A distinguished political career, Part 2

William Oscar Sealey (1859-1940)

During his time as a Member of Parliament for Wentworth, W. O. Sealey actively campaigned for agriculture, trade and commerce in the legislature. He advocated an “embargo against the export of Canada’s raw materials until manufactured into finished products, as well as an embargo against articles coming into Canada that can be reasonably and easily produced here.”

The list of his accomplishments is long, but probably his most lasting impact in the legislature was his Bill initiating free rural delivery of mail in Canada. On October 10, 1908, the first ever rural mail delivery “in the British Empire took place between Ancaster and Hamilton bringing mail to 37 households.”

Present at the “gala” ceremony on Hamilton Road in front of Walter Vansickle’s home were, according to The Dundas Star, “fifteen rigs, forty people, two telephone poles, one mail box, seven bedraggled sparrows, an inquisitive dog and a very drizzly rain.”

In 1911, Mr. and Mrs. Sealey were invited to attend the Coronation of His Majesty King George V and Queen Mary in London and spent two months attending the festivities. His distinguished political career in Canada was reported in newspapers in England and he was a popular and frequent speaker, describing and promoting Canada.

On their return to Canada, W. O. Sealey faced another election campaign for his parliamentary seat. Despite his apparent popularity, his political career was short-lived, as he lost his seat in on September 21, 1911 to the Conservative candidate.

He turned his interests to construction and real estate, specialising in medium-priced houses and later to apartment building.

Although Mr. and Mrs. Sealey did not live in Waterdown after 1893, the village remained an important part of their lives. They returned frequently to attend local events and were members of Knox Presbyterian Church and organisers of the Eaton Family Reunion in 1926 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the family’s settlement in Carlisle.

In 1929, Sealey purchased the old Waterdown School site and presented the land to the village for a park, requesting that it carry the name of his family. Accepting the gift, Reeve Speck said, “It will be always known as Sealey Park, and will remain a silent witness to your goodness.” W. O. Sealey died on January 7, 1940 and was buried in the Hamilton Cemetery, York Street.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at archives@flamboroughhistory.com.

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 20 June 2008.


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