Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Sir Richard Cartwright


Cartwright, Sir Richard John (1835-1912), statesman, was born in Kingston, Upper Canada, on December 4, 1835, the son of the Rev. Robert David Cartwright and Harriet Dobbs, and grandson of the Hon. Richard Cartwright. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. On returning to Canada, he went into business, and became president of the Commercial Bank of the Midland District. In 1863 he was elected as a Conservative to the Legislative Assembly of Canada for Lennox and Addington, and in 1867 he was elected for the same constituency to the Canadian House of Commons. In 1870 he was an unsuccessful rival of Sir Francis Hincks for the office of finance minister, and thereafter he drifted into the ranks of the Liberal party. From 1873 to 1878 he was minister of finance in the Mackenzie administration, In 1878 he was defeated in Lennox and Addington, but was elected for Centre Huron; and he continued to sit in the House of Commons continuously until 1904, first for Centre Huron (1878-82), then for South Huron (1882-87), and lastly for South Oxford (1887-1904). In 1896 he became minister of trade and commerce in the Laurier administration; in 1904 he was appointed to the Senate; and in 1909 he became government leader in the Senate. On four occasions, in 1897, in 1902, in 1907, and in 1911, he was acting prime minister, during Sir Wilfrid Laurier's absence; he was for nearly forty years the chief spokesman of the Liberal party in regard to fiscal matters; and the vigour and trenchancy of his speeches won for him the sobriquet of "the Rupert of debate".


He died at Kingston, on September 24, 1912. He married, in 1859, Frances, eldest daughter of Col. Alexander Lawe, of Cork, Ireland ; and by her he had six sons and three daughters. He was created a K.C.M.G. in 1879, and a G.C.M.G. in 1907; and in 1902 he was appointed a member of the privy council. He was the author of a pamphlet entitled Memories of Confederation (Ottawa, 1906).


See Sir R. Cartwright, Reminiscences (Toronto, 1912), and W. L. Grant, Sir Richard Cartwright (Canadian Magazine, 1913).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 8.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College