Ferguson, George Howard

George Howard Ferguson, lawyer, Conservative politician, premier of Ontario 1923-30 (b at Kemptville, Ont 18 June 1870; d at Toronto 21 Feb 1946). He personified Ontario in the 1920s: a mix of 19th-century values and 20th-century ambitions. As premier at the climax of industrialization's first great wave, he set a style of government that prevails still. Confident that industry, protected by the tariff, and the development of natural resources would provide work and wealth for all, his government tried to create the climate and facilities conducive to private investment in Ontario's forests, mines and factories. Yet his administration did not permit untrammelled exploitation; measures to conserve and regulate were instituted. Action to meet the social problems of industrialization was slow and parsimonious, yet at times innovative, designed to extend educational and medical services to all regions and groups. He lifted some of the restrictions placed on Ontario's bilingual schools by the infamous Regulation 17 (1912), his earlier answer to mounting FRENCH CANADIAN NATIONALISM and a factor in national disunity during WWI. A master of brokerage politics, he maintained harmony among the classes and regions of Ontario.