City council voted unanimously in favour of a recommendation to rename the Civic Holiday Monday in Sault Ste. Marie as Sir William H. Hearst Day.
The recommendation to council came from the Committee to Honour Sir William H. Hearst, chaired by Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker, with the support of the Township of Hearst.
"I have a deep interest in Hearst's career," said Shoemaker, who was also present when Hearst was honoured on the Sault Ste. Marie Walk of Fame in 2013.
Shoemaker said he began to research Hearst's career when he was in high school.
The councillor said it is "shocking" the city has not honoured Hearst more in light of his many achievements.
It was also decided the committee would come forward to council, at a later date, with a report on the possible establishment of academic scholarships at Algoma University and Sault College in recognition of Sir William H. Hearst.
A committee was struck in February to find a way to honour Hearst, who served as member of provincial parliament for Sault Ste. Marie from 1909 to 1919 (the Sault incorporated as a city in 1912) and as Premier of Ontario from 1914 to 1919 (the first Premier from Northern Ontario).
Hearst served as premier during World War I, and it was during his term as premier Hearst passed ground-breaking legislation giving women the right to vote in Ontario.
Other highlights of Hearst’s time as premier include the setting up of Ontario’s first workers’ compensation system, a mothers allowance, the passing of the first Forest Fire Prevention Act, provision of government loans to returning soldiers to establish farms and a proposed minimum wage, which was later put in place by Hearst’s successor.
The committee to honour Hearst included Shoemaker, Councillor Susan Myers, Chris Tossell of the Municipal Heritage Committee and three high school students, one from each of the area’s school boards.
Shoemaker, in a report to council, noted it is not uncommon among other communities to rename the Civic Holiday in honour of an individual, pointing to Simcoe Day in Toronto, Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Joseph Brandt Day in Burlington, John Galt Day in Guelph and Alexander Mackenzie Day in Sarnia.