Friday, January 20, 2017

Spotlight on our Heritage #2: Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the second in a series of features prepared for Heritage Week 2017 (February 13 – 20), entitled Spotlight on our Heritage. The blog series celebrates 150 years of history, and reflects upon New Brunswick’s role in Confederation. This particular "spotlight" draws from the Fredericton Region Museum exhibition A Ship Full of Troubles: New Brunswick and Confederation, which was co-curated by STU and UNB graduates Nathan Gavin and Caleb Goguen. 

Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley
(Bibliothèque et Archives 
nationales du Québec,
Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley 

Samuel Leonard Tilley was born into a small United Empire Loyalist family in Gagetown, New Brunswick. As an adult, Tilley became deeply involved in the growing abstinence and temperance movements, and became the leader of the Sons of Temperance in New Brunswick before he began his political career. Tilley also co-owned a pharmacy in Portland (now part of Saint John).

Samuel Leonard Tilley was elected to the House of Assembly as a representative of Saint John in 1850. In 1854 he joined the “Smashers” and was re-elected under Charles Fisher, and serving as Provincial Secretary.

Tilley became Premier of New Brunswick on March 19, 1861, after Charles Fisher was forced out of his seat. Serious talks of Confederation arose the following year. Tilley’s pro-Confederation stance would eventually lead to his defeat in the 1865 election, but he was later re-elected to the House of Commons in 1867, after the passing of Confederation. Tilley became Minister of Finance twice: first in 1872, and then again in 1878. He also became Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick twice: once in 1873, and then again in 1885.

In politics Tilley was a strong reformer, striving for prohibition, education reforms, railway development, and Confederation. He attended all three of the Confederation conferences, and is credited for coining the phrase “Dominion of Canada” for the newly created country.

Tilley retired in 1893, after a long career in politics, and died in 1896. His death was rumoured to be attributed to blood poisoning from stepping on broken glass in Rothesay. Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley was buried in Fern Hill Cemetery in Saint John.

Join with us in celebrating Canada’s 150 during New Brunswick Heritage Week, February 13 to 20, 2017! 

For more information please visit the NB Heritage Week 2017 web site... or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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