Sir John Douglas Hazen

C. W. GILCHRIST September 1 1934

Sir John Douglas Hazen

C. W. GILCHRIST September 1 1934

Sir John Douglas Hazen



ONE blustery day last winter a group of prominent citizens stretched legs under dining tables on a big C.P.R. liner at West Saint John.

They came to hear Leading Citizen Bennett formally open a new milliondollar port unit.

Shipping chiefs, political Solons, business tycoons there were. Conspicuous for his absence was New Brunswick’s chief justice.

But few of the diners realized that if Sir John Douglas Hazen, P.C., B.A., LL.D., K.C., K.C.M.G., had not once held an ace in the hole in a political poker game, Saint John's winter port might never have been.

It happened in the early 1890's. Sir John A. Macdonald was in the saddle and Sir George E. Foster was handling the Government’s money bags.

Saint John had spent a million dollars on a grain elevator, docks, trackage. Promises of big business evapor• ated like Bay of Fundy fog. No shipping came.

Steamship men claimed they dared not chance Fundy's tides, rocks and shoals, so Ottawa paid the Government mail subsidy to lines operating out of Portland, Maine.

New Brunswick delegations swarmed to Ottawa, got more promises.

The Beaver Steamship Line came forward, said: “We’ll open a service to Saint John if we get the mail subsidy.” More delegations. More promises. No action.

John Douglas Hazen, M.P., and colleague John A. Chesley, M.P., then hastened to the capital.

To them Sir George E. Foster said: "Run along home. The Order-incouncil is about to be passed. Saint John will have news of it before you get back."

It hadn’t. It didn’t. The two Johns waited days, signed a joint telegram: "If Beaver Line does not receive mail subsidy within forty-eight hours our resignation goes forward to the Speaker of the House.”

It took less than forty-eight hours. And that was the beginning of Saint John’s history as a national port.

Distinguished Political Record

SIR JOHN DOUGLAS HAZEN is a descendant of one of the first two white families to settle on what is now the site of Saint John. That was eight years before the Loyalists came.

He is thankful that he is able to show a better family history than certain other public dignitaries of the province who boast of their Loyalist ancestry. The first Hazen on this side of the water was Edward, who moved from Northumberland, England, to Massachusetts in 1648.

Born in the country village of Oromocto, the son of a sheriff, Hazen early escaped that environment, studied under Str George R. Parkin at the Fredericton Collegiate School, captured a B.A. from the University of New Brunswick before his nineteenth birthday.

He dabbled in newspaper work, wasn't such a good poker player so took up the study of law. paid his way by reporting court news, became an attorney as soon as he was old enough to be admitted to the bar.

At twenty-two he was mixing in politics, stumped for the Provincial Conservative party against the strongly

entrenched Liberals led by Hon. A. G. Blair.

Hazen wasn’t ready for his first nomination when it came three years later in 1885. He accepted after protests, lost the hopeless fight after a game campaign, but showed his vote-pulling powers by getting himself elected mayor of Fredericton three years later. He served for two terms.

His thirty-first birthday saw him in a seat in the House of Commons, representing Saint John City and County. He held it until Laurier and his Liberals were swept into power on the crest of the Remedial Bill tidal wave in 1896.

Returning to provincial politics, Hazen entered the New Brunswick Legislature as a Member for Sunbury three years later, became leader of a slim Conservative Opposition.

Followed a trek of good New Brunswick Liberals to Laurier cabinet posts, and Hazen hammering, fighting every inch of the way. Campaign guns loaded with political investigation powder routed the Liberal forces under Hon. C. W. Robinson’s command in 1908.

Many Liberals swung over to the Hazen cause, and he formed a government with thirty-one supporters as against twelve Liberals, led it until Robert Borden marched to Ottawa under his reciprocity banner in 1911, returned to the Dominion political arena as Minister of Marine, Fisheries and Naval Affairs.

War flamed. Hon. John Douglas Hazen batted for Sir Sam Hughes as acting Minister of Militia, accompanied Sir Robert Borden to England in 1916, was a member of the Imperial Conference and the Imperial War Cabinet, was knighted by the King.

In 1918 he sat with the International Fisheries Commission.

Sir Douglas left Ottawa on the formation of Union Government, and can now claim to have sat in the House of Commons with every Prime Minister of Canada since Confederation with one exception — Rt. Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King.

He entered when Sir John A. Macdonald was Prime Minister. Abbott, Thompson, Mackenzie Bowell, Tupper, Laurier, Borden, Meighen, Bennett have been seatmates.

In 1917 Sir Douglas was appointed to the Supreme Court of New Brunswick as Chief Justice of the Appeal Division.

Even those to whom his judgments aren’t good news have to admit that he is six and a half feet a gentleman.

His judgments are like textbook models of perfect English, edited with Pulitzerian skill. He is a stickler for commas.

He has no particular hobby; his home is his castle — adc..-ess Hazen Castle, Hazen Avenue, Saint John, N.B.

He has no intention of retiring. Like Elbert Hubbard, his motto might be:

“Get your pleasure out of your work or you’ll never know what real pleasure is."

One day early in June this year leaders of the legal profession, the judiciary. flocked into Sir Douglas’s chambers at Fredericton.

They came to extend congratulations on his seventy-fourth birthday, to wish him many more years on the bench.

"The Chief Justice of Ontario is ninety,” Sir Douglas reminded them.