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HARTMAN, JOSEPH, farmer, educator, and politician; b. 16 Jan. 1821 in Whitchurch Township, Upper Canada, son of John Hartman and Mary Webb; m. 1 June 1843 Mary Ann Cosford, and they had three sons and three daughters; d. 29 Nov. 1859 in Whitchurch.

Joseph Hartman’s Quaker parents emigrated from Columbia County, Pa, to Upper Canada in 1807, settling on a farm in Whitchurch Township where Joseph was born and raised. Not strong in health, he became a school teacher and in 1844, at the early age of 23, was named superintendent of education for the township. He continued to farm, however, and in 1848 was able to purchase 160 acres in Whitchurch which his father had leased shortly after arriving in Canada.

Hartman entered local politics in 1847 and served on the Home District Council for three years. His political ascent began in 1850 with the reorganization of local government brought about by the Municipal Corporations Act [see Robert Baldwin]. Elected to the township council, he was chosen Whitchurch’s first reeve, an office he held until his death, and as reeve he sat on the county council. In 1853 he became warden of the United Counties of York, Ontario, and Peel. He did not stand for office in 1854 but was selected warden again in 1855, this time for the United Counties of York and Peel, and served for four subsequent terms, one of the longest wardenships in the history of the province.

It was this solid base of local influence that facilitated Hartman’s move into provincial politics. In the general elections of 1851 he decisively defeated tory Hugh Scobie and Baldwin himself in the riding of York North, the old constituency of the recently resigned co-leader of the great reform coalition. Hartman’s margin of victory over James Hervey Price* in 1854 was a much narrower one, but he was returned again in 1857 with an overwhelming majority.

Hartman also gained support by aligning himself with the radical Clear Grits, now developing as a potent electoral force. One of the Grits who supported Francis Hincks* and Augustin-Norbert Morin*, Hartman crossed over to the opposition when their government failed to introduce legislation secularizing the clergy reserves. A New Connexion Methodist, he vigorously opposed state aid to religious bodies and sectarian school legislation. In May 1855 when Étienne-Paschal Taché*’s school bill was introduced in the assembly late in the session after many Upper Canadian members had returned home from Quebec, Hartman joined forces with George Brown* in an unsuccessful attempt to recommit the bill for six months. The Taché bill, which allowed any 10 Roman Catholic freeholders in Upper Canada to elect trustees to manage a separate school in their district, was passed by Lower Canadian votes, with most of the westerners still present voting against it. That summer Hartman called for dissolution of the union. He was eventually won over to Brown’s political solution, representation by population, and in 1857 participated in the Toronto Reform Convention, further allying himself with Brown, the emerging leader of a new reform party.

Above all else, Hartman reflected the concerns of his constituency; he addressed temperance meetings, advocated retrenchment, and proposed legislation on a number of minor municipal reforms. Himself a farmer representing a predominantly agricultural district, he was involved in various unsuccessful efforts to improve transportation in his riding. In 1855 he presented a bill to incorporate the Port Perry and Whitchurch Junction Railway Company, of which he was a shareholder, and in 1856 he helped found the Toronto and Georgian Bay Canal Company. A year later he was appointed chairman of a parliamentary committee to study the canal’s feasibility and the possibility of government aid. Perhaps not surprisingly, Hartman’s committee, which consisted of two fellow shareholders, Angus Morrison* and John William Gamble*, and four others through whose ridings the proposed canal would run, favoured the plan. Their involvement, which by later standards would constitute a conflict of interest, is fairly typical of situations that could easily arise in a developing Upper Canada at mid century.

Another aspect of Hartman’s life which typifies the era was of a more tragic nature. His family had a long history of consumption or tuberculosis, for which there was then no cure. Joseph contracted the disease years before his death and was forced to wage a long debilitating struggle against its effects before finally succumbing at age 38.

Eric Jarvis

AO, MS 451, York County, King and Whitchurch township cemeteries, Aurora cemetery record; RG 8, ser.I-6-A, 11: 122; RG 22, ser.305, Joseph Hartman; ser.94, 8–9. PAC, RG 1, L3, 232: H14/186; 554: 12. York North Land Registry Office (Newmarket, Ont.), Deeds, Whitchurch Township, 3, nos.33135–36 (mfm. at AO, GS 6424). Can., Prov. of, Legislative Assembly, App. to the journals, 1857, app.61; Journals, 1857: 26, 138, 190; Statutes, 1854–55, c.195; 1856, c.118. Doc. hist. of education in U.C. (Hodgins), vols.11–13. Jaradiah, the scribe [Joshua Winn], Chronicles of the north riding of York, giving a brief historical account of the late parliamentary contest (Newmarket, 1854). The legislation and history of separate schools in Upper Canada: from 1841, until the close of the Reverend Doctor Ryerson’s administration of the Education Department of Ontario in 1876: including various private papers and documents on the subject, ed. J. G. Hodgins (Toronto, 1897), 69, 94–95, 110. Examiner (Toronto), November–December 1851, July 1854. Globe, 23 July 1855; 30 Nov., 2, 3 Dec. 1859. New Era (Newmarket), 1852–59. North American (Toronto), 4 Nov. 1851. North York Sentinel (Newmarket), 1856. Commemorative biographical record of the county of York, Ontario . . . (Toronto, 1907). History of Toronto and county of York, Ontario . . . (2v., Toronto, 1885), 2: 438, 454. J. M. S. Careless, Brown of “The Globe” (2v., Toronto, 1959–63; repr. 1972). Historical sketch of Whitchurch Township: centennial celebration of municipal government, 1850–1950 ([Stouffville, Ont., 1950]). James Johnston, Aurora: its early beginnings (Aurora, Ont., 1963). C. B. Sissons, Egerton Ryerson, his life and letters (2v., Toronto, 1937–47). Eric Jarvis, “The Georgian Bay Ship Canal; a study of the second Canadian canal age, 1850–1915,” OH, 69 (1977): 125–47.

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Cite This Article

Eric Jarvis, “HARTMAN, JOSEPH,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 24, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hartman_joseph_8E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hartman_joseph_8E.html
Author of Article:   Eric Jarvis
Title of Article:   HARTMAN, JOSEPH
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1985
Year of revision:   1985
Access Date:   April 24, 2024