By Tom Gillespie
BALLINA born Edward Whelan had the excellence of changing into the daddy of Canadian Confederation.
Born in 1824, he was considered one of Prince Edward Island’s delegates to the Quebec Convention. He was additionally a journalist, orator and advocate for accountable authorities.
In 1831, on the age of seven, his household all moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rising up in Halifax, he was significantly influenced by Joseph Howe – the excellent orator of his time in Nova Scotia – the place he labored as a printing apprentice, in addition to Fr. Richard Baptist O’Brien, a dynamic Irish priest who was a gifted orator in addition to Whelan’s trainer at St. Mary’s College in Halifax.
In accordance with Wikipedia, these two influences led Whelan to desert his research on the age of 18 to take up a place as editor of The Register, an Irish-Catholic, liberal newspaper.
In August 1846, Whelan was elected as an assemblyman for St. Peters in Kings County. He remained an assemblyman till the final yr of his life however had sporadic attendance.
Critics of Whelan level out that his political voice lacked the fervour and genius that was obvious in his printed work.
Within the autumn of 1846, Whelan sought to embark on one more newspaper enterprise, particularly The Examiner. This publication almost failed, however he managed to maintain it going.
Whelan then devoted a lot of 1850 to talking at conferences concerning the idea of accountable authorities. This led to Whelan’s rise in stature and in April 1851, he was named to the Government Council and likewise appointed the Queen’s Printer.
Inside this new authorities function, Whelan spent a lot of his time defending the key liberal reforms concerning the Free Training Act, extension of the franchise, and the Land Buy Act. These liberal reforms weren’t with out controversy, and Whelan took the brunt of the criticism.
In 1864, the union of the British North American colonies was the subject of the day. Although the Liberals have been towards Confederation, Whelan supported Confederation as he noticed it as a chance for PEI to realize extra management of its personal affairs.
Whelan was chosen to be one of many delegates to the Quebec Convention. Attending this convention made Whelan a fair stronger proponent.
Regardless of his advocacy, few politicians and residents have been persuaded and Whelan grew to become disillusioned.
Whelan’s stance on Confederation, in addition to different points, led him to turn into remoted inside the Liberal celebration.
Within the election of 1867, Whelan was defeated for the primary time in 21 years. There is no such thing as a single trigger for his defeat. He had misplaced help from his conventional supporters by denouncing the Tenant League and Fenianism.
Furthermore, his help of Confederation was unpopular with the individuals of PEI. On all three of those points, his opponent, Edward Reilly, had the sting.
Nonetheless, Whelan believed that the defeat got here from the disapproval of the newly appointed cleric of St. Peters, Father William Phelan, a supporter of Reilly. Whelan felt that the clergy had unduly influenced the election.
Whelan felt very bitter about this defeat and by the autumn of 1867 his well being slowly deteriorated.
Whelan died on December 10, 1867.
My colleague Terry Reilly, in his 2012 e-book ‘Superb Mayo Tales’, particulars the life and occasions of 14 outstanding Mayo individuals together with Whelan.
Terry wrote: “Edward was the son of an infantryman, in all probability a militiaman from Leinster stationed in Ballina, most definitely within the army barracks.
“Younger Edward attended faculty in Ballina, a vivid scholar with a vivid if in the end troubled future forward of him in one other land removed from Eire.
“In June 1830 The Ballina Neutral newspaper reported circumstances within the city as follows: “Half famished, begging poor milling aimlessly across the streets of the city, minor pilfering however no main meals theft reported …. constabulary referred to as upon to cope with elevated nocturnal exercise’.
“The next yr the Whelan household set sail for Canada.”
Terry continued: “Edward arrives a mere boy in Halifax together with his widowed mom in 1831. They’d gone throughout the Atlantic in an emigrant crusing vessel and, after alighting at one of many wharves, had the nice fortune to satisfy the influential Hon. Joseph Howe who was taking an early morning stroll.
“Amongst the human cargo of emigrants he observed a girl standing with a toddler in her arms, and a small vivid boy, Edward Whelan at her aspect. Approaching them, he positioned his hand on the boy’s head, made some enquiries of the mom and on the finish of the dialog, attracted by the boy’s method, he took him by the hand to his own residence and Whelan was educated for his life’s work in Mr. Howe’s printing workplace.
“A part of the wonderful coaching given to apprentices within the professions in these days got here from having the youth reside within the properties of their employers. When was to amass coaching and experience for his future work together with his stint on The Register, the place he grew to become resistor.
“By now he had turn into an completed public speaker, having honed his debating expertise by membership of the Younger Males’s Catholic Institute. He constructed up a popularity for being a refined public speaker. He was marked out as a younger man to be famous. He grew to become recognized with these agitating for reform of the political system managed by Household Compacts within the Maritime Colonies who managed the media, the printed press and ensured the general public acquired a tailor-made message.
“Joseph Howe really useful the companies of his younger protege, and so it was, on the age of 19, Edward Whelan sailed from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island.
“On the age of 21 he was chosen as a candidate to signify the Second District of King’s County within the Home of Meeting. He carried the day together with his cogent reasoning and highly effective oratory.
“Whelan’s rise to fame was meteoric, changing into the excellent member of the Liberal Reforming Get together which gained Accountable Authorities for Prince Edward Island in 1851.
“Because the summer time of 1867 superior Whelan confirmed indicators of failing well being and at midday on Tuesday, December 10, he handed away on the age of 43.
“His funeral was one of the crucial imposing ever witnessed.”