In the mid 1950s The Daily Times Gazette from Oshawa and Whitby, Canada, re-printed “The History of Oshawa” by M McIntyre Hood, who was the author of several books about Oshhaw. The following text was scanned from this re-print.

Thomas Conant, who was a great grandson of the original settler, Roger, is mentioned as a traveller in this history and on one of his journeys he visited, in 1894, the Conants at Lyndon Hall, Rutland. The text of his article “To the Conants of America” is reproduced here.


At this stage In the history of Oshawa the Conant family, because of a constant association of over 160 years with the development of the community comes very largely into the picture. This period has covered six generations of Conants who have lived in and around Oshawa. For much of their story we are indebted to the late Thomas Conant, father of the late Hon. G D. Conant , former Premier of Ontario. Thomas Conant, in his two excellent books on the early history of Ontario. ''Upper Canada Sketches'' and ''Life in Canada'' has preserved the early records of his family and from them much pertinent information is available.

The Conant family has had a long and distinguished history. It is a matter of record that one of its ancestors came originally from Normandy with William the Conqueror in 1066, and later some of them settled in England. In Rutland county and in Devonshire. The Oshawa Conants are descended from the Devonshire branch of the family. In the parish register of East Budleigh, in Devon, are entries of the birth of John Conant in 1520 and his son, Richard Conant in 1548. The farm lands on which they lived joined to those of Sir Walter Raleigh, famed in history, Richard Conant was the father of the Roger Conant who sailed from England in the year 1623 as one of the Pilgrim Fathers, and settled in what is now Massachusetts.


Roger Conant did not remain long with the settlement at Plymouth Rock. He moved to Natucket, and for a time lived on the island in Boston harbour now known as Governors Island, but for many years given the name of Conant's Island. He became associated with the Dorchester Company of traders, and in 1624 was made governor of the company’s post at Cape Ann. In 1626 he built the first house in city of Salem, Massachusetts, and founded that city. For three years he was governor of the state - the first of its governors - and was the head of affairs for the colony. In 1668, a section of what is now Salem was incorporated as the Village of Beverley, Roger Conant made an effort to have it named Budleigh, after his birthplace, but his petition, still preserved in the Massachusetts archives, was not granted. He died on November 19, 1678 in his 88th year.

At the time of the American Revolution, about 100 years later there were three brothers, Conants of the sixth generation from Roger the Pilgrim, in Massachusetts. Two of them joined George Washington's army and one of them, Daniel Conant. was wounded at the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. The third brother, Roger, however refused to join the patriot army, and remained loyal to King George III. After the war and the declaration of independence, Roger Conant resolved to flee to Canada. He owned some 13,000 acres of land and disposed of his large holdings for $5,000 in gold. In 1777 he set out with his family from Boston in a covered wagon drawn by two horses, followed by an ox cart laden with household goods and farm implements. He stopped for a time at the Hudson River, and then went on to Geneva, New York.


Leaving his family there. Roger Conant came on to Canada, and in October, 1778 he arrived in Darlington township of Durham County, just east of Oshawa. The first crown grant of land was made to him on December 31, 1778. It consisted of lots 28, 29, 30 and 31. Broken Front, Darlington, and the south halves of lots 28, 29 30 and 31, on the first concession of Darlington. In all, these amounted to about 1,200 acres. Roger Conant, however, did not settle there at that time. He made a small clearing and built a house, and then returned to his family at Geneva.

Roger Conants first home in Darlington township.

It was not until four years later that Roger Conant, with his family came to settle near Oshawa. On October 5, 1792. he arrived at the mouth of the Niagara River, and crossed on a flat, bottomed scow to Newark. then the capital of upper Canada. He and his family were met there by Governor Sir John Graves Simcoe. The governor tried to persuade him to go north to the Lake Simcoe area, but he was determined to go to the Darlington area. Governor Simcoe told him to blaze the limits of the land he wanted promising he would be granted this land when he did so.


Following the lake shore, camping at night. fording many streams, the party reached the site of York now Toronto, then a cluster of Indian wigwams with a few houses in process m erection. The river Don being too deep to ford, they hired Indians to take them over in canoes. The wagons were taken apart, ferried across in sections, and put together again, after which the little family proceeded along the broken shores of the lake. Finally they reached their destination and proceeded by blaze the area he wished. He blazed some 800 acres of land and, true to his promise. Governor Simcoe duly made out the patents for this land east of the Oshawa Creek.

It was late in the year, but the family lived in tents, on a location with Barber's Creek, later known as Arnall's creek and the lake as two sides of triangle for defence from the wolves, leaving only one side to be protected. Quickly the house which had been built in 1778 was made ready for habitation, and there the family spent its first winter in Canada.


Roger Conant had brought his $5000 in gold with him from the sale of his Massachusetts property. But there were no neighbours or travellers with whom to do business. He therefore decided that only in the fur trade could he make money. So be made his way to Montreal by canoe and had three Durham boats built. These were broad-beamed open flat boats strongly built for rowing and towing these he filled with blankets, traps, knives, guns, flints, ammunition, tomahawks and beads bought in Montreal to trade with the Indians for furs.

Mr. Conant pursued his trade with the Indians vigorously. Disposing of the goods he had brought from Montreal by bartering them for large quantities of firs. He took these to Montreal and there sold them for gold. In a remarkably short time he accumulated a considerable fortune. Much of this he invested in increasing his considerable holdings of land along the north shore of Lake Ontario.

In his fur business be came into keen competition with the Hudson’s Bay Company. but so successful was he and other settlers and fur traders that the company gradually gave up trading in the Oshawa district. and confined itself to regions farther north. At this time, about 1798. the HBC had its trading station at Bluff point, just east of Oshawa Harbour

It was an arduous and pleasant life in these pioneer days. There was excellent hunting and fishing and a comfortable home with a well-stocked library. Salmon were so plentiful that one day in 1805, while paddling his canoe to where the harbour now is, the salmon partly raised the canoe out of water and were so close together that it was difficult for him to get his paddle into the water. He then went into the packing business and shipped salmon in barrels to the United States for an excellent price, with the proceeds of one these ventures he bought another farm of 150 acres on the Lake Ontario shore.


Roger Conant and his family were well established in the settlement that is now Oshawa when the war of 1812 to 1814, between Great Britain and the United States sent the country into a turmoil. The peaceably disposed and struggling settlers, trying to subdue the forest and to procure livelihood were horrified to have a war on their hands. They could ill afford to leave their small clearings to go and fight but Canada was their home and they were determined to defend it. All those of adult age in the district were loyal and obeyed the summons to join the militia and begin active service.

Roger Conant, like the others although he was over 60 years old, joined the militia. But he early ran foul of the intolerance of the Family Compact. One day he was requisitioned to take an ox cart load of war material along the lake Ontario shore to Oshawa. While in York, in conversation with some friends, he expressed the view that Britain should arrange its affairs with the United States and not drag Canada into war. He also was critical of some of the actions of the British authorities in their conduct of the war. In spite of the fact that he had proved his loyalty by joining the militia. he was brought before a court-martial and fined 80 pounds. About $320 in present day money. He continued to serve, however. with the rest of the settlers, who made their way to York in a motley throng. There was no pretence at uniforms. Few had boats or canoes in which to make the trip.

Roger Conant, a stable of fleet saddle-horses, was employed by the commanding officers as a dispatch rider. Thus in the militia and as dispatch rider, his time was fully occupied at the business of war. He was 62 years of age, but so pressed were the authorities for men that age did not debar them from service.

On the outbreak of war. Roger Conant had considerable wealth in both land and gold. Fearing for the safety of his gold, he rode from his home to that of his brother in law, Levi Annis, at Scarborough, to hide his money. Removing a large pine knot from one of the logs in the wall of the house, he placed his gold and silver in the hole re-inserted the knot and made it smooth. No one ever suspected its presence there. Three years later, when the war was over, he again visited Levi Annis at Scarborough. The pine knot was removed, and the treasure - about $16,000 in value was drawn forth intact.

On another occasion in 1812 he was visited by three Indians, who asked permission to rest before the open fireplace for the night. Permission was granted when Mr. Conant noticed knives hidden in their sleeves. He had no doubt as to their purpose, robbing and possibly murder. Seizing an axe and a rifle hanging on the wall, he shouted to the Indians. ''None you stir. If you do, I'll kill the first one who gets up. Stay just where you are until daylight.'' Then a squaw entered and pleaded for release of the Indians. But Mr Conant was obdurate and after an all-night vigil, he allowed them to go one at a time. Never again during the war was Roger Conant molested by the Indians.

After the capture of Detroit, many prisoners of war were brought through the district on their way to Quebec. On the way, they were fed either at Moode Farewell's tavern, where Harmony now is or at the Conant homestead.

Several of the settlers of the Oshawa district took part in the fighting when the Americans landed at York on April 26, 1813. After landing they advanced on Fort York. Roger Conant was one of the garrison within the fort. When it was seen that the defenders were so hopelessly outnumbered that further defence was impossible, the word was passed around that the fort was to be blown up. With others, Roger Conant dropped over the wall of the fort just as it blew up and killed a great number of Americans. Thirty three miles away at his homestead, his family heard the great explosion that marked the blowing up of the fort.

Peace at last came on January 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. Roger Conant went back to his trading, his farming, hunting and fishing and lived on his homestead until his death in 1821. He left five sons and two daughters.

Of the eldest son. Eliphalet, all trace has been lost and there are no known descendants of him today.

Abel, another son, had an immense tract of land in Scarborough township, on the Danforth Road. Abel's son, Roger left a most respectable and interesting family in the State of Michigan.

Barnabas, another son of Roger, disappeared, and all trace of him is lost. Jeremiah, another son, died about 1854 in Michigan and nothing is known of his family. The youngest son , Thomas, remained with his father and continued living on the old homestead until he came to an untimely end 1838, during the rebellion of that time. He, however, provided the direct on of descent of the Oshawa Conants as be was the grandfather of the late Hon. G. D. Conant.

Roger Conant’s, daughter, Rhoda, became the wife of Levi Annis. From this union there came a numerous and most progressive family of which many members still in Ontario and Durham Counties.

Polly, another daughter, married John Pickell, member of one of the other pioneer families mentioned previously. They left a small family, descendants of which still live in Darlington township.

Roger Conant died a very large real estate owner. His land stretched east and west of the site of Oshawa. But in his will, no mention was made of his hoard of gold. It was reported at various times after his death that he had buried it. But in spite of all the searches made for it, no one has ever unearthed it.

Roger Conant was an outstanding figure in the early days of what is now the City of Oshawa. He did much to open up the district and bring it under cultivation. He left to Oshawa a line of descendants who have done great things for their community. And the present home of Mrs. G. D. Conant stands on part of the land he left when he died 134 years ago.

Homestead in Oshawa
Old Conant homestead, Port Oshawa, built in 1811

Having come this far with the Conant family story, it seems appropriate to continue that story and follow it through its varied paths up to the present day. So the sad tale of Thomas Conant, the colourful careers of his son Daniel, his grandson, Thomas, and his great grandson Gordon Daniel, will now be unfolded.


The line of the Conant family in Oshawa came down to the present day from the original settler, Roger Conant, through his youngest son Thomas Conant. As was shown previously, all his other sons left the district, and mostly went to the United States. Thomas Conant was but a young boy when his father settled in Darlington township east of the Oshawa Creek. What would have been a career of great usefulness to the young community was rudely cut short when in 1838, at the time of the rebellion of that period, he was ruthlessly murdered by a drunken dragoon.


Some stories of Thomas Conant have come down to the present day. In the fall of 1806, he went on a walk through the woods, to the home, three miles north, of the young woman who later became his wife. Snow had not yet fallen, but the ground was frozen. It was midnight when he started his walk back through the woods. When about halfway home, he heard the baying of wolves. Knowing he could not travel faster than the wolves, he hurried on quietly, watching for a tree he could climb.

In a very few minutes, the wolves were upon him, in full cry, eyes protruding, tongues lolling and ready to devour him. A near by beech tree. which his arms could encircle, furnished his means of escape. He climbed and climbed, while the wolves surrounded him and watched his every motion, never ceasing their dismal howls all through the night. Thus he kept his lonely vigil. To lose his hold meant certain death. Morning came at last, and with its first peep of daylight the wolves left and were seen no more. When they were gone, he looked around and found that with all his climbing he had ascended a very few feet from the ground, but just out of reach of the wolves’ jaws as they made frantic jumps to reach him. He climbed down, and hurried home. The next spring, in March 1807, he married the girl that he had been visiting on the night he escaped from the wolves.

Thomas Conant followed in the footsteps of his father as a fur and general trader. He became a man of great physique. six feet two inches in height and of commanding talents. He was an industrious and generous citizen, and because of what his father had left him, and his own success in his business undertakings, he was a man of great wealth for his time and was the owner of large tracts of land both in the present boundaries of Oshawa and west, as far as Whitby, as well as to the east of the Harbour. He possessed great ability, and was in the prime of life when cut down on February 15, 1838. His grandson, Thomas Conant, tells the story of his assassination in his book, ''Upper Canada Sketches.''

On the day of his murder, Thomas Conant was walking alone on the Kingston Road, between Oshawa and Bowmanville, as was quite common in these days. He was unarmed, and was proceeding on his business. As he went eastward, he saw a man named Cummings sitting on his horse in front of a tavern on the south side of the road. Mr. Conant had not quite reached the hotel, but saw Cummings partake of two large drinks of liquor, and then start to ride towards Oshawa. Coming up to him Mr. Conant, who knew him well, spoke to him and said, ''Good day, Cummings, drunk again, as usual'.

Cummings, who was a dragoon and a dispatch bearer, dreaded above all things to be reported drunk while carrying dispatches, and lost his temper in an instant. Putting spurs to his horse, he attempted to ride Mr. Conant down. Mr Conant was too quick for him and caught the horse by its bridle as he approached. Cummings then raised his sword, and without a word of warning, struck Mr. Conant on the head, fracturing his skull. Death followed a few hours later.

An informal inquest was held. Because the three witnesses of the murder were looking out of the tavern window, through the glass of the window, the evidence was not admitted, and Cummings went unpunished. He did, however, reach an unhappy end. He lived for a few years as a hopeless drunkard, until one day, in Port Hope, he fell under the wheels of a loaded wagon and was crushed to death.

Next in line of succession of the Conant family was his son, Daniel Conant. By the time he grew up as a young man, surveyors were at work plotting out the townships which later became part of Darlington, East Whitby and Whitby township. Settlers were coming very rapidly to occupy the lands as they were surveyed. The settlements at this time were for the most part close to the lake, although the building of the Kingston Road had opened up new land for settlement along that road. Thus in what later became the village, town and city of Oshawa there were at first two distinct settlements. There were the homes in the clearings east and west of the Oshawa Creek. Then farther north on what is now King Street, there was another area of settlements.

In the earliest days the Indians had had a trail which led north from the mouth of the creek through the woods, to Lake Scugog where Port Perry now stands. Gradually this trail became a wagon road. As clearing of the forest progressed, it was widened and improved, until in due course it became a broad road extending from the lake to what are now referred to as the Four Corners. This later became the present day Simcoe Street and the main road north to Port Perry.

The lives of these early settlers were simple. They lived in log houses. There were no stoves in those early days. All cooking, as well as heating, was done by a large fireplace. A crane on hinges hung there and could be swung over the fireplace at leisure, attached to it was a rod from which could be suspended large pots, baking irons and other utensils, thus the first cooking was done, and the first corn and wheaten cakes baked, in what is now Oshawa.

Some built ovens of stones out of doors. They were conical in shape and open in the centre. An immense fire would be built in this outdoor oven, and when burnt down to real live coals, would be drawn out, leaving the stones thoroughly heated. Into the cavity in which the fire had been, the bread would be inserted and the door closed up. Enough heat would remain in the stones to bake at least two batches of bread. This seems like a great waste of firewood, but wood was of little account at that time. Today with all the modern heating and cooking appliances, a fireplace with log fires is more a luxury than a necessity.

Daniel Conant inherited all the ambition and energy of his grandfather. As a young man he acquired a fleet of ships which sailed the Great Lakes. He was a lumber producer and one of the outstanding lumber dealers of his day. His education was meagre by today’s standards, but it was sufficient to enable him to do an enormous business. He amassed wealth, extended the family holdings of land, and did a great deal for his community and province. His lumber was used very largely for building the homes of the settlers coming into Oshawa district. He along with David Annis, another early settler, and a kinsman, built the first lumber mill in the district. It was located on the bank of the present Creek just north of Thomas Street. Parts ofthe old mill dam site can still be seen at that point. The mill had a capacity of 4,000 feet of lumber per day.

Lumber Mill
Conant and Annis Lumber Mill
on Oshawa Creek


Daniel Conant had some adventurous escapes at the time of the rebellion of 1837. His son, Thomas, in his books, speaks of the rebels as ''patriots'' indicating the side on which the family sympathies lay. Many 0f the United Empire Loyalists, who resented the domineering and high-handed actions of the authorities, were suspected of being rebels, even if they took no part in the uprising.

An officer named Colonel Ferguson, in command of the militia at Whitby, was excessively zealous in his loyalty. He felt it his duty to search the district for rebels and rebel sympathizers. One winter night, at midnight, he came with a party of troops, surrounded the home of Daniel Conant and ransacked it thoroughly. He turned all its inmates out into the snow while he searched it. Several times during that winter he raided the Conant home, but never found anything to incriminate Daniel Conant.

One farmer of the district, son of a United Empire Loyalist from Massachusetts, was also a victim f Colonel Ferguson's raids. He was not a rebel, but he was suspected just because of his origin. In order to avoid being captured and lodged in jail, he changed his quarters every few days and never slept in a house. Usually he slept in the grain-bin of a farm. But because of this life or a fugitive through the winter, he died in the early spring of 1838.


At this time Daniel Conant was a very large vessel owner. At the earnest request, entreaties and tears of some 70 patriots, who were being hounded by the authorities, and whose lives were in danger, he took them in mid-winter across Lake Ontario to Oswego, N.Y., in his ship, "Industry". After picking up patriots who came out from the shore in canoes, and with a fine sailing breeze, it headed across the lake to the haven of refuge 60 miles away.

When the ship reached the other side, it was found that the north wind had driven floating ice before it, and for three miles out from the land there was a solid ice mass. They sailed along its outer edge, seeking a passage to shore, but in vain. Finally, a sailor climbed out on the bowsprit and by hanging from it, and pushing ice blocks out of the way with his feet cleared a passage for the vessel. At night, the cold became intense, and the ship was frozen hard in the midst of the ice. There was firm footing on it, and the patriots clambered ashore, some fell through gaps in the ice, and had to be hauled to safety, but finally they all reached shore and were welcomed by hundreds of people who had watched their struggles. However, a south wind sprang up, and the ship was carried away and it finally became a wreck, and was stranded on the shore of Oak Orchard, N.Y.


Daniel Conant, John Pickell , the mate of the ship. and the other officers had another perilous trip home. They walked back to Niagara in the spring of 1838 and crossed the Niagara River at its mouth, a point closely guarded. By noisy protestations of loyalty, John Pickell got the party through the guards, and it disappeared into the thickness of the forests. Hamilton was reached in due time, but a detour was made around the north of Toronto. Finally, proud of having saved the lives and fortunes of 70 patriots, Daniel Conant arrived back at his home in Oshawa.

It is of interest to note two things here. Many of' the rebels were exiled to Van Diemen's Land, 91 in all going there. Only 13 of them ever returned to Canada.

Another is that Benedict Arnold, who has gone down into history as a traitor, was given a grant of18,000 acres near Oshawa, and a gift of 10,000 pounds by the British government, but he never came here to settle on his land.


To Daniel Conant goes the credit for giving Whitby a deep water harbour. As a vessel – owner, using the port of Whitby, he knew the need for this. So when an engineer named Smith made a contract to build docks there on deep water. Daniel Conant became security for Smith' s bonds to the amount of $4,400, a large sum in those days. Smith, however, disappeared and Mr Conant had to make good his bond. He sold some of his ships liquidated his wheat crop from 150 acres of land. and also sold 1,200 acres of land in Whitby at $2.00 an acre to make up the amounts. But Whitby got its first deep water harbour.

Daniel Conant continued to be trader with great success until he died in 1879. He was a great benefactor to his community. The poor came to him as a friend, and never came in vain. It is recorded that at his funeral, hundreds of poor men, as well as their more fortunate neighbours, followed his bier to the grave, a striking tribute to the regard in which he was held by the community he had helped to build.

Next in the line of successions which brings us down to the Conant family at the present day was Thomas Conant, son of Daniel Conant. Thomas Conant was the father of the Hon. G. D. Conant, so well and favourably known to the Oshawa of the present generation. and who was the fifth generation from the original pioneer, Roger Conant.


With this article we will bring the story of the Conant family up-to-date, so as to complete the record of its contribution to Oshawa. We do so because this is one of the few Oshawa families in which it has been possible to trace a direct line of descent for six generations from its original settler, Roger Conant, who first set foot in this district in October, 1792. We have followed the careers of this Roger Conant, his son Thomas and his grandson, Daniel. We have not attempted to trace the other members of the family whose careers were lived out elsewhere. The Conants, however, by marriage, have knit connections with other families notable in the district since its earliest days, such as the Annis family and the Gifford family, which became closely related with the Conants.


Next In the line of succession after Daniel Conant, to whose experiences our last article was deeded was his son, Thomas Conant, a great grandson of the original settler, Roger. This Thomas Conant has left behind him a splendid record of early life in the Oshawa district and indeed through Ontario as a young province, in the two books to which we have already made mention, his ''Upper Canada Sketches'' and ''Life in Canada,'' books which are very interesting reading today.

Thomas Conant made a name for himself as a traveller and as an author. Records of some of his journeys are contained in his books, and also in articles which he contributed to the Ontario Reformer, the forerunner of The Times-Gazette. In his lifetime, methods of transportation for extensive travel were not what they are today, so it is quite noteworthy that Thomas Conant made two trips around the world, visiting Europe, Asia, Africa, seeing the countries of the far east. From first-hand knowledge and experience, he learned much of how people lived in these lands which, from the standpoint of the time required to reach them, were far more distant than they are today.


One great world event in which Thomas Conant became involved was the American civil war of 1861 to 1865. It is recorded that during this war some 80,000 young men went from Ontario and Quebec, south to the United States and joined the army of the North. Many went from Oshawa and the surrounding district, attracted by their love of adventure, and by the bounties, ranging from $800 to $1600 which they received on enlisting.

When the war was at its height Thomas Conant went to the United States and visited the Northern armies. His father, Daniel had sensed the golden opportunities for trade, and as a young man fresh from college, Thomas Conant went south to look into them. Leaving home on June 18, 1864, he went to New York, and on to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.


In Washington he visited the hospitals filled with wounded, and he was filled with horror at their sufferings, and the terrible conditions under which they were being given such care as was possible. While there, Mr. Conant was offered $800 to enlist, but the idea did not appeal to him.


One of the high lights of this trip was a visit to President Abraham Lincoln in the White House at Washington . On being ushered into the President's office, his first thought was ''What a tall awkward man , and how badly his clothes fit.'' In his record of the visit, Thomas Conant does not reveal the business he discussed with President Lincoln. But he was granted a pass to go wherever he chose in Virginia and about the vicinity of Washington. He visited the Army of the Potomac, in which there were 90,000 men. He had the impression of walking along miles of streets of canvas houses. He was caught in the mad scramble to the defence of Washington when the Southern army crossed the Potomac at Williamsburg, and after some exciting experiences returned home to Oshawa.


In association with his father in business Thomas Conant lived quietly until his zest for travel took him on his trips around the world. He completed his days quietly with his books and his voluminous writing in the Conant home at 1050 Simcoe Street South.

GORDON DANIEL CONANT In that house, on January 11, 1885, Gordon Daniel Conant, fated to become the most outstanding of his line was born. This fifth generation son of the family became outstanding because he devoted himself to public services to a greater extent than any of his Oshawa forbears.

Educated at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall, Gordon D Conant began the practice of law in Oshawa about the year 1912. Soon, however, this flair for public life became apparent, and in 1914 he was elected deputy-reeve of the town of Oshawa. The following year he became reeve of the town of Oshawa. In the midst of the first world war, in 1916 and 1917 he served Oshawa as its mayor. He was a member of the old Water Commission from 1920 to 1927. In 1928 he returned to the city council as an alderman. When thee first Public Utilities Commission was elected in 1930. Mr. Conant was one of its original members, and served on it for two years.


In many fields of public endeavour in Oshawa. Mr. Conant gave of his talents and time to the community. He helped to organise the Chamber Commerce, was its vice-president in 1928 and 1929. And its president in 1930 and 1931. He was for many years a member of the Board of directors of the General Hospital, and its president from 1926 to 1932. He was president of the Oshawa Rotary Club in the year 1928-1929. In the legal profession he had a brilliant career. In 1933 he was appointed as King's Counsel. In 1934, he became Crown attorney for Ontario County, a position he held until in 1937, he became Liberal candidate for the Ontario Legislature.


Mr Conant had been active in politics even in his student days. On opening practice in Oshawa in1912, he became secretary of the South Ontario Liberal Association, and held that office for 25 years. In the general election of October 6, 1937, he was elected member of the Ontario Legislature for Ontario Ridings A few days later, his appointment to the cabinet as Attorney-General for Ontario was announced. He filled that important office with distinction. On October 15, 1942. Mr. Conant became Prime Minister of Ontario and held that office jointly until May of the following year. He then retired from political life, and became Master of the Supreme Court of Ontario.

Hon G. D. Conant
Hon G. D. Conant, Premier of Ontario

Mr Conant was the central figure in many important matters. When the second world war came he had already organized the security forces which guarded Ontario's electrical stations. He made the first tax agreement with the federal government, as a war measure. He piloted through the Ontario Legislature the first Ontario Labour Relations Act. He made the first agreement with Quebec for the development of jointly owned electric power sites on the Ottawa River, later making possible the Des Joachims and Cave Rapids power plants. He was a great Canadian and has left his mark on the life of Ontario.

In 1952, Mr. Conant retired from his official post and returned to his practice of law in Oshawa, taking into partnership with him his son Roger, who following the family tradition, is now deputy-reeve of the town of Ajax. Mr. Conant died on January 2, 1953. in the house in which he was born 67 years before, a house built on land which had passed down through the family from generation to generation. The family name and traditions are being carried on by his two sons. Douglas and Roger, and their children.

This completes for the present the story of the Conant family from its beginnings down to the present day. From time to time, through its history, references will be made to it. It is a story which covers the life of Oshawa from 1792 down to 1955.

Hon GD Conant