BLAKE, PATRICK, businessman and politician; b. 6 March 1846 in Charlottetown, eldest son of John Blake (d. 1865) and Catherine Keoughan; m. there first 20 Feb. 1870 Annabella Enman, and they had three daughters and a son; m. there secondly 15 April 1901 Emma Gertrude Quirk; they had no children; d. 20 Nov. 1909 in Charlottetown.
In 1865 Patrick Blake, aged 19, and his brother Maurice were granted partnerships in the prosperous butchering business started in Charlottetown by their father, a native of Tipperary (Republic of Ireland). Operating as Blake Brothers from the Market House on Queen Street, they expanded the business to include exporting cattle and wholesaling goods.
After successfully establishing the business, Patrick Blake pursued political endeavours. Prior to the 1880s there was a general lack of interest in municipal politics, but during that decade a number of leading businessmen became involved. Blake sat on city council from 1880 to 1882. Running in the Conservative favour, he was elected to the provincial House of Assembly the following year for Charlottetown and Royalty. On 27 March 1890 he was elected speaker of the house, but in February 1891 he resigned to run in Queens in the upcoming federal election, along with fellow Tory Donald Ferguson. They were defeated by Liberal incumbents Louis Henry Davies* and William Welsh.
In assembly debates on various bills, Blake had opposed any restriction on the activities of the “ordinary pedler,” championed justice for “honest men” in debt proceedings, and spoken out for the right of “poor people” to keep pigs in the city. A devout Roman Catholic, he combined his religious convictions with a sound appreciation of political realities. For instance, in a letter to federal prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald* in 1884 regarding the appointment of a provincial judge and a new lieutenant governor [see Jedediah Slason Carvell*], he wrote: “If Catholics are ignored in these important appointments and an election takes place in Queen’s county, the Liberal Conservative candidate would be sure of defeat.” Blake was above all a pragmatist in matters pertaining to the financial management of the province, which he equated to handling a private business.
Blake’s position on the terms of confederation with Canada, the issue that dominated provincial politics for the entire period he was an elected member, was never ambiguous. Opposed to union, he strongly supported provincial addresses in 1884–86 to the governor general and the queen that cited the dominion’s failure to carry out a key promise, the maintenance of continuous communication with the Island by steamship.
In all pursuits, the agricultural community remained a priority for Blake. He supported agricultural education, experimentation to improve livestock and crops, and increased funding for the provincial exhibition, where he was a noted judge. He became a director in 1890 of the association that operated the annual event. In the assembly in 1886 he had commended his government, headed by William Wilfred Sullivan*, for the encouragement it gave to farmers.
Toward the end of his career as an assemblyman, Blake became increasingly involved with the Charlottetown Board of Trade. Invited in March 1887 by Jacques Grenier, president of the Chambre de Commerce du District de Montréal, to attend a congress of Canadian and American boards, a group of Charlottetown businessmen gathered to reorganize the board that had been discontinued. In June a new board was established and Blake was a founding member. He served as vice-president in 1892 and president from 1893 to 1896, and in 1901 he sat on the board’s council. During his time as an officer he expressed deep interest in commercial concerns of the day, ranging from freight rates and connections to the mainland to the erection of a bridge across the Hillsborough River.
About 1901 Blake moved to Sydney, N.S., where he formed a provisioning firm, P. Blake and Company. He returned to the Island shortly before his death, in 1909 at the city hospital in Charlottetown. Known as a generous man, he had contributed to charities regardless of their religious affiliation. Patrick Blake was eulogized in obituaries for his energy, his capabilities as an honourable businessman and politician, and his kindly disposition.
NA, MG 26, A: 145221–24. PARO, Ace. 2334/2–3; Ace. 3147/1, 4; Ace. 3156/5; Ace. 3271/1; RG 19, marriage licences; RG 20, 7–8, 224–33; Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island, Estates Div. records, liber 7: f.148; liber 18: f.98 (mfm.). St Dunstan’s Roman Catholic Basilica (Charlottetown), RBMB. Charlottetown Guardian, 23–24 Nov. 1909. Charlottetown Herald, 24 Nov. 1909. Daily Patriot (Charlottetown), 20 Nov. 1909. Island Farmer (Summerside, P.E.I.), 24 Nov. 1909. Almanacs, Harvie’s P.E.I., 1868–81; P.E.I. calendar, 1836–73. Canadian men and women of the time (Morgan; 1898). Directories, Charlottetown, 1914; P.E.I., 1864–1905. Illustrated historical atlas of the province of Prince Edward Island . . . ([Toronto], 1880; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1972). Mercantile agency reference book, July 1909: 281. P.E.I., House of Assembly, Journal, 1883–90.