William Earl Rowe
20th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
In office
May 1, 1963 – July 4, 1968
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor GeneralGeorges Vanier
Roland Michener
PremierJohn Robarts
Preceded byJohn Keiller MacKay
Succeeded byWilliam Ross Macdonald
Leader of the Opposition
In office
August 1, 1956 – December 13, 1956
Preceded byGeorge A. Drew
Succeeded byJohn Diefenbaker
In office
November 1, 1954 – February 1, 1955
Preceded byGeorge A. Drew
Succeeded byGeorge A. Drew
Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
In office
November 29, 1956 – December 14, 1956
Preceded byGeorge A. Drew
Succeeded byJohn Diefenbaker
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Dufferin—Simcoe
In office
October 29, 1925 – April 8, 1963
Preceded byRiding created
Succeeded byEllwood Madill
Ontario MPP
In office
June 25, 1923 – October 1, 1925
Preceded byEdgar James Evans
Succeeded byRiding abolished
ConstituencySimcoe South
Personal details
Born(1894-05-13)May 13, 1894
Hull, Iowa, U.S.
DiedFebruary 9, 1984(1984-02-09) (aged 89)
Newton Robinson, Ontario, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative
Treva Alda Lillian Lennox
(m. 1917)
RelationsArza Clair Casselman (son-in law)
Children4, including Jean
OccupationFarmer, Rancher

William Earl Rowe, PC (May 13, 1894 – February 9, 1984), was a politician in Ontario, Canada. He served as the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1963 to 1968.


Rowe was born in Hull, Iowa, United States, of Canadian parents in 1894. He moved to Ontario with his family at the age of two and grew up to become a farmer and cattle breeder. In 1917, he married Treva Alda Lillian Lennox. Together, they had four children, one of which died during labour.


He was reeve of the township of West Gwillimbury from 1919 to 1923. Rowe served as a Member of Provincial Parliament from 1923 to 1925, when elected to the House of Commons, where he served until 1935.

From 1936 to 1938, he was leader of Conservative Party of Ontario, but he did not have a seat in the legislature and so George S. Henry remained Leader of the Opposition.

In the public mind, the cause of labour was identified with the American Congress of Industrial Organizations and communism. During the 1937 provincial election, when Liberal premier Mitchell Hepburn was railing against the CIO's attempt to unionize General Motors and the supposed threat posed by organized labour, Rowe refused to take a stand against the CIO and repeatedly asserted that "the issue was not law and order but the right of free association." The Conservatives were then strongly associated with the Orange Order, which had long held a pro-labour position. Rowe's stance resulted in George A. Drew breaking with the party to run unsuccessfully as an "Independent Conservative" in the 1937 election in opposition to Rowe's position.

Rowe failed to win his seat in the 1937 provincial election but successfully ran in a by-election held in November 1937 to regain the seat in the federal House of Commons from which he had resigned two months earlier to run in the provincial election. He was succeeded as leader by his former rival, Drew. Drew went on to serve as Premier of Ontario in the 1940s before he moved to federal politics.

Rowe served in the House of Commons until 1962. On two occasions (1954–1955 and 1956) when Drew, who had by this point become federal PC leader, was unable to perform his duties because of ill health, Rowe served as acting leader of the official opposition.

From 1958 to 1962, he and his daughter, Jean Casselman Wadds, were the only father and daughter to ever sit together in Parliament.

Later life

Rowe was lieutenant governor of Ontario from 1963 to 1968. A champion and supporter of agriculture and rural affairs, particularly harness horse racing,[1] he died in 1984 at Newton Robinson, Ontario.


The Honourable Earl Rowe Public School, in Bradford, Ontario, and Earl Rowe Provincial Park, near Alliston, are named in his honour.


  1. ^ [1]|Bradford Witness