William Earl Rowe

George A. Drew Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario John Keiller MacKay

William Earl Rowe

20th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
In office
May 1, 1963 – July 4, 1968
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor GeneralGeorges Vanier
Roland Michener
PremierJohn Robarts
Preceded byJohn Keiller MacKay
Succeeded byWilliam Ross Macdonald
Leader of the Opposition
In office
August 1, 1956 – December 13, 1956
Preceded byGeorge A. Drew
Succeeded byJohn Diefenbaker
In office
November 1, 1954 – February 1, 1955
Preceded byGeorge A. Drew
Succeeded byGeorge A. Drew
Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
In office
November 29, 1956 – December 14, 1956
Preceded byGeorge A. Drew
Succeeded byJohn Diefenbaker
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Dufferin—Simcoe
In office
October 29, 1925 – April 8, 1963
Preceded byRiding created
Succeeded byEllwood Madill
Ontario MPP
In office
June 25, 1923 – October 1, 1925
Preceded byEdgar James Evans
Succeeded byRiding abolished
ConstituencySimcoe South
Personal details
Born(1894-05-13)May 13, 1894
Hull, Iowa, U.S.
DiedFebruary 9, 1984(1984-02-09) (aged 89)
Newton Robinson, Ontario, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative
Treva Alda Lillian Lennox
(m. 1917)
RelationsArza Clair Casselman (son-in law)
Children4, including Jean
OccupationFarmer, Rancher

William Earl Rowe, PC (May 13, 1894 – February 9, 1984), was a politician in Ontario, Canada. He served as the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1963 to 1968.


Rowe was born in Hull, Iowa of Canadian parents in 1894. He moved to Ontario with his family at the age of two and grew up to become a farmer and cattle breeder. In 1917, he married Treva Alda Lillian Lennox. Together they had four children, one of which died during labour.


He was reeve of the township of West Gwillimbury from 1919 to 1923. Rowe served as a Member of Provincial Parliament from 1923 to 1925, and was then elected to the House of Commons, where he served until 1935.

From 1936 to 1938, he was leader of Conservative Party of Ontario though, as he did not have a seat in the legislature George S. Henry remained Leader of the Opposition.

In the public mind, the cause of labour was identified with the American Congress of Industrial Organizations and communism. During the 1937 provincial election when Liberal premier Mitchell Hepburn was railing against the C.I.O's attempt to unionize General Motors and the supposed threat posed by organized labour, Rowe refused to take a stand against the C.I.O. and repeatedly asserted that: "the issue was not law and order but the right of free association." At the time the Conservatives were strongly associated with the Orange Order which had long held a pro-labour position. Rowe's stance resulted in George A. Drew breaking with the party in order to run as an "Independent Conservative" in the 1937 election in opposition to Rowe's position.

Rowe failed to win his seat in the 1937 provincial election and successfully ran in a by-election held in November 1937 to regain the seat in the federal House of Commons he had resigned from two months earlier to run in the provincial election. He was succeeded as leader by former rival Drew. Drew went on to serve as Premier of Ontario in the 1940s before moving to federal politics.

Rowe served in the House of Commons until 1962. On two occasions (1954–1955 and 1956) when George Drew, who had by this point become federal PC leader, was unable to perform his duties due to ill health, Rowe served as acting leader of the official opposition.

From 1958 to 1962, he and his daughter, Jean Casselman Wadds, were the only father and daughter to ever sit together in Parliament.

Lieutenant governor

Rowe was lieutenant governor of Ontario from 1963 to 1968. A champion and supporter of agriculture and rural affairs, particularly harness horse racing,[1] he died in 1984 at Newton Robinson, Ontario.

The Honourable Earl Rowe Public School in Bradford, Ontario, and Earl Rowe Provincial Park, near Alliston are named in his honour.


  1. ^ [1]|Bradford Witness