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Alfred Boultbee, member of Parliament for the constituency of East York, is son of Felix and Mary (Samuel) Boultbee, of “Bittern Cottage,” Hampshire, England, where he was born on the 5th of March, 1829. His father was for many years in the service of the East India Company. His maternal grandfather was the late Chief Justice Samuel, of Bengal, India.
In 1836 Felix Boultbee emigrated with his family to Canada, and settled in the township of Ancaster, county of Wentworth, where he engaged in farming. About the year 1840, the subject of our sketch had the misfortune to lose both his parents, leaving him the eldest of five children. The family were left in straitened circumstances, and Mr. Boultbee well merits the distinction of being a self made man in all respects. He began life without the benefit of much schooling, but succeeded by hard study in the intervals of farm labor, to educate and fit himself to become a student at law. In 1845 he entered the office of the late William Notman, of Dundas, where he remained five years; was admitted as an attorney in 1850, and was called to the Bar, U. C., Trinity term, 1855; after being admitted as an attorney and spending about six months in Toronto, settled at Newmarket and began practice, remaining there until 1872, when he formed an advantageous partnership with the late J. M. Fairbairn, M.P.P., and removed to Peterboro’.
In 1874, Mr. Fairbairn’s failing health caused him to leave home for a trip in the South, where he died. This was a severe blow to the interests of Mr. Boultbee, and in consequence thereof he removed to Toronto and opened an office, remaining here ever since. During the whole term of Mr. Boultbee’s career in Newmarket he was an active, public spirited citizen, and filled many offices with much credit to himself, and advantage to the people. He was a prominent member of the Agricultural Society for several years; was also reeve, grammar school trustee, Captain of a company of volunteers, and president of the Mechanics’ Institute. In connection with other gentlemen he also started the North York Sentinel, and edited the same for a number of years. Being by far the most active, energetic man in the place, it seemed to naturally devolve upon him to be the leader in local public affairs, and being of active temperament, he never shirked his duty.
In 1867 Mr. Boultbee contested North York for the Provincial House, against the Hon. John McMurrich, and was defeated by 206 majority. At the general election four years later, he contested North York again, against the same opponent, and after a very spirited campaign succeeded in reversing the previous result and gaining the seat by tive majority, holding the same for four years, during which time he was a very active member of the Municipal Law Amendment Committee. In consideration of his practical business ability, he was also placed upon the Railway, Private Bills, and Standing Orders Committees, which are the three most important in the House, and Mr. Boultbee was the only private member placed upon all three. Ten days prior to the election for the Commons in 1875, no candidate being available in North York, Mr. Boultbee was prevailed upon to enter the lists, but was defeated by 366 votes. At the general election in 1878, after a most thorough and able canvass of a certain portion of the constituency, which he thought would change the result, he was returned to the Commons for East York, defeating Mr. James Metcalfe by a majority of sixty-seven votes. This is the first time that the constituency has been represented by a Conservative, and the success and credit therefore is wholly due to the very able manner in which he conducted the campaign. During the political campaign previous to the election in 1878, he was the Political Secretary of the U. E. Club, and probably the most active and useful agent of the Conservative party in Canada, and the unexpected and brilliant success of the party, was very largely due to his indefatigable efforts. He was intimately associated with Sir John Macdonald and other political leaders, and made himself thoroughly acquainted with every constituency in Ontario, personally advocating and speaking for the Conservative cause in nearly every county.
In the Local House Mr. Boultbee was in the minority, and took a decided stand in opposition to the Government expenditure, and especially against the alleged wasteful timber policy, arguing strongly in favor of economy and general retrenchment. In the Commons his natural ability has had new scope, and he has taken an active part in the proceedings, speaking at much length on’ the National Policy, and other prominent measures. He also conducted the part assigned him in the Letellier affair with much credit and ability.
Mr. Boultbee’s political views were, in early life, in sympathy with the Reform party, being what was called a follower of Baldwin. But of late years, being unable to agree conscientiously with the practice of that party, he has gradually become a zealous supporter of the Conservative party. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and was instrumental in organizing Tuscan Lodge in Newmarket, became its first W. M., and subsequently held an office in the Grand Lodge.
On June 17, 1857, at Hamilton, Mr. Boultbee was married to Caroline Augusta, daughter of the Hon. George Hamilton, one of the early pioneers in that place, and from whom the town was named.
Mr. Boultbee’s life has not been a very eventful one, yet he has been remarkably active and energetic, almost since he was a boy. Beginning as he did with nothing, and having to educate himself, the success which he has attained may serve to encourage many a youth who
has been similarly situated in early life.