Edward Blake was born in the township of Adelaide, county of Middlesex Ontario, E in 1833. He is the eldest son of the late Hon. Wm. Hume Blake, himself a man of marked ability, and grandson of the late Rev. Dominick Blake, rector of Killegan and Lough Richland, Ireland; his mother was the daughter of Wm. Hume, of Humewood.
The subject of this sketch was educated in his earlier years, by Messrs. Wedd and Brown, and later at the Upper Canada College.
In his youth, Edward Blake showed signs of possessing in the bud the talents of elocution and a retentive memory; the former of which, in its full blossom, has gained for him the reputation of being one of the most eloquent speakers of the day, whilst the latter has in no small degree contributed to his success in his profession. He graduated at Trinity College, Toronto, and concluded a brilliant University career, by being Chancellor’s Medalist, and taking first-class honors in classics. He was called to the Bar of Upper Canada, in Michaelmas term, 1856, and took his degree of M.A., in 1858; received his silk gown within the first decade of his legal career, having been created a Q.C. in 1864; became a Bencher of the Ontario Law Society in 1871 was for a time examiner and lecturer in equity for Upper Canada; at present is chancellor of the Toronto University since 1876, and head of the well known firm of Messrs. Blake, Kerr, Boyd and Cassels, of Toronto. His ability as a lawyer is probably unexcelled in Canada, and the highest judicial appointments have been within his reach, but he has declined promotion when it was offered him, first in the chancellorship of Ontario, in December, 1869, and subsequently in the chief justiceship of the Supreme Court of the Dominion, in May, 1875.
Mr. Blake’s professional success has been principally achieved in the Courts of Equity, but his unsurpassed power of cross examination has secured for him considerable practice in Common Law. Thoroughly mastering the salient features of his cases, he is concise in his arguments, and confines himself to the points at issue. In the conduct of his suits he is apparently Diffident and anxious to a degree quite incompatible with his undoubted ability, arising possibly from a conscientious desire to promote to the utmost of his power, the interests of his clients. Mr. Blake enjoys at this moment, the highest reputation amongst all classes of his brethren at the Bar irrespective of their political creeds and opinions.
Mr. Blake commenced his political career in 1867, having been elected for West Durham, to the House of Commons, and for South Bruce in the local Parliament, at the first general election after the Confederation. In 1871, he was returned to the’ local House from South Bruce, and by acclamation to the Commons from West Durham, but decided to sit for the former only. At the opening of the ensuing session, he moved an amendment in reply to the speech from the Throne, which was carried; the Ministry in power did not resign without accepting a defeat on a motion of dismissal, upon which they vacated office, and Mr. Blake became Premier of Ontario; and President of the Council (without salary), but resigned both, as well as his seat in the Ontario Assembly, in October, 1874. At the election in 1872, was re-elected as member for West Durham, and simultaneonsly to the House of Commons for South Bruce; preferring the latter seat for special reasons, by repeated re-elections, represented that constituency uninterruptedly until the general election of 1878, when he was defeated; but at the special election in Nov. 1879, he was again returned by acclamation to the Commons.
Hon. Edward Blake was sworn of the Privy Council in November 1873, and was a member (without office) of Mr. Mackenzie’s administration from that date, until February, 1874, when he resigned. In May, 1875, he was induced to accept the portfolio of Minister of Justice in the same Government, and in 1876 went to England on political business; in June, 1877, exchanged this portfolio for the office of President of the Council, which he was compelled to relinquish in January, 1878, on account of ill health.
Mr. Blake is a member of the Anglican church, and President of the Young Men’s Christian Association, of Toronto.
His wife is a daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Cronyn, Lord Bishop of Huron.