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Graduate Students

Elliott, Bruce - M.A

The Dominion Election of 1911 and 1917 in Huron County - Dr. Evans, advisor

        This thesis will provide new building stones from one area - Huron County - in Western Ontario for the basis of a general study of the federal elections of 1911 and 1917. Both campaigns have been studied chronologically, but attempts have been made at the same time to assess the efforts and ability of the parties to adapt their platforms to the local conditions, and to add some interpretations of other aspects of the electioneering.
The electoral results for both elections in the Huron constituencies have been analsysed. Whenever possible a poll by poll analysis has been made. Voting trends, breaks with past trends, the influence of the racial and the religious background of the electors, have all been discussed along with the effects of the electioneering by various newspapers published in the county and outside, the candidates and imported speakers.
         In both 1911 and 1917 the Liberals under Laurier appeared to have the platform that would be popular in the rural Huron ridings, but the Conservatives in 1911 and the Unionists in 1917 countered with emotional appeals and won every constituency in the county. The traditional views that in 1911 the loyalty cry and the opposition of the business community to reciprocity won the general election for the Conservatives, while in 1917 the split between English and French Canada over conscription won the election for the Unionists, are shown by the results in Huron to be superficial and to ignore the complexity of the voting process. The Huronites who voted for one party in 1911 or in 1917 did not do so for the same reason or for the same combination of reasons. Neither election locally was synonymous with a referendum on a national issue. In every polling subdivision, the totals were the product not just of one or even two big issues but of a combination of many factors of varying importance and as diverse as the influence of the press, the quality of the candidates and their campaign, the strength of party organizations, the individual elector's voting habits, his economic interests, his religious and racial backgrounds, the organizations of which he was a member such as the Orange Lodge or the Women's pro-Unionist movements of 1917, and, of course, the appeal - both practical and emotional - of the platforms of the opposing parties.