1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Blake, Edward

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BLAKE, EDWARD (1833–  ), Irish-Canadian statesman, eldest son of William Hume Blake of Cashel Grove, Co. Galway, who settled in Canada in 1832, and there became a distinguished lawyer and chancellor of Ontario, was born on the 13th of October 1833 at Adelaide in Middlesex county, Ontario. Educated at Upper Canada College and the university of Toronto, Blake was called to the bar in 1856 and quickly obtained a good practice, becoming Q.C. in 1864. In 1867 he was elected member for West Durham in the Dominion parliament, and for South Bruce in the provincial legislature, in which he became leader of the Liberal opposition two years later. On the defeat of John Sandfield Macdonald’s government in 1871 Blake became prime minister of Ontario, but resigned this office the same year in consequence of the abolition of dual representation. He declined the leadership of the Liberal party in the Dominion parliament, but, having taken an active part in bringing about the overthrow of Sir John Macdonald’s ministry in 1873, joined the Liberal cabinet of Alexander Mackenzie, though without portfolio or salary. Impaired health soon compelled him to resign, and to take the voyage to Europe; on his return in 1875 he rejoined the cabinet as minister of justice, in which office it fell to him to take the chief part in framing the constitution of the supreme court of Canada. Continued ill-health compelled him in 1877 again to seek rest in Europe, having first exchanged the portfolio of justice for the less exacting office of president of the council. During his absence the Liberal government was driven from power by the elections of 1878; and Blake himself, having failed to secure re-election, was for a short time without a seat in parliament. From 1880 to 1887 he was leader of the opposition, being succeeded on his resignation of the position in the latter year by Mr (afterwards Sir) Wilfrid Laurier. In 1892 he became a member of the British House of Commons as an Irish Nationalist, being elected for South Longford. But he did not fulfil the expectations which had been formed on the strength of his colonial reputation; he took no very prominent part in debate, and gave little evidence of his undoubted oratorical gifts. In 1907 he retired from public life. In 1858 he had married Margaret, daughter of Benjamin Cronyn, first bishop of Huron.

See John Charles Dent, The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841 (2 vols., Toronto, 1881); J. S. Willison, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Liberal Party (2 vols., London, 1904).