(1833–1912), Ontario premier 1871–2. Of Irish Anglican background, Blake gained entree to Ontario politics through his lucrative legal career, and his premiership led to federal politics. Minister without portfolio in Alexander Mackenzie's Liberal government, he resigned after the election of 1874. High public expectation and frustrated leadership ambitions produced his liberal nationalist reform rebellion against party leadership (his famous Aurora speech, Canada First). Returning to cabinet as minister of justice in 1875, he established the Supreme Court of Canada. Liberals turned to him as party leader in 1880 after their 1878 National Policy election loss. His intense reform and party-consolidation efforts led to episodic ‘neurasthenic’ collapse; Blake pondered resigning and, after Liberals failed to win in 1887, did. He broke with the Laurier Liberals over unrestricted reciprocity. His legal practice, partly active throughout his political life, culminated in successful arguments before the JCPC in the 1890s for greater provincial constitutional powers. An Irish nationalist MP in the British Parliament after 1892, he laboured to resolve the Irish Question. His efforts ended in 1907 with a stroke and a return to Canada. Blake's weaknesses—nervous energy, overweening intellectuality, and gluttony for work—were also the sources of his political and formidable legal success.
From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: History of the Americas.