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|William H. Temple|
Bill Temple at his campaign victory party in 1948.
|Preceded by||George Drew (Progressive Conservative)|
|Succeeded by||Alfred Hozack Cowling (Progressive Conservative)|
|Died||April 9, 1988
|Political party||Co-operative Commonwealth Federation/|
|Children||Phyllis and William Jr.|
|Religion||United Church of Canada|
|Years of service||1942-45|
|Battles/wars||Battle of the Atlantic|
|War||World War I|
|Branch||Royal Naval Air Service|
William Horace (Bill) Temple (1899 - April 9, 1988), nicknamed "Temperance Bill" or "Temperance Willie", was a Canadian democratic socialist politician, trade union activist, businessman and temperance crusader. As a youth he worked for the railroad. During World War I, and World War II he was a soldier in the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Between the wars, he was a salesman, and then he started a clothing import business. In 1948, he defeated the incumbent premier of Ontario in his own legislative seat, in the electoral district of High Park. He was defeated three years later and went back into the clothing import business. In his later years, he lead the political fight to maintain the prohibition on selling alcohol in Toronto's west-end, winning three referenda in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He died in the spring of 1988, a few months before another referendum on lifting the restrictions on alcohol in the area.
Temple was born in Montreal, and was one of five children. His father was a railway conductor, and the family moved with him to Toronto in 1909. After completing grade 8, due in part to his father's alcoholism, he took a job as an office boy with the Grand Trunk Railway for $5 a week.
At the age of 17 Temple went to fight in World War I, joining the Royal Navy Air Service as a fighter pilot before transferring to the Royal Air Force, where he destroyed three Royal Air Force planes and no enemy ones. In 1942, during World War II, he was a flying officer on intelligence operations for the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed in Sydney, Nova Scotia and Gander, Newfoundland.
After World War I, Temple was hired as a shipping clerk for Toronto's Arrow shirt company. In 1921, he was transferred to Winnipeg, where he worked as a salesman for the company.
It was in Winnipeg where Temple, who had been a staunch Conservative, was captivated by the speeches of Winnipeg socialist clergyman and politician J.S. Woodsworth and became a socialist in 1921.
When Temple was transferred by Arrow to Kitchener, Ontario in 1933, he became president of the local CCF organization. His employer disapproved of Temple's socialist activism and told him to choose between politics and his job. Temple chose politics, putting himself out of work when the Depression was at its worst. Temple borrowed $5,000 from his sister and went to England, where he obtained samples of cashmere sweaters, Dack slacks and Burberry coats, and returned to Canada to find retail outlets. His import business continued until the war, when he enlisted in the RCAF.
In 1943, Flying Officer Temple, took leave, to become the Ontario CCF's candidate in the west-end Toronto riding of High Park in the provincial election. He was narrowly defeated by George Drew, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, by a mere 400 votes. Drew became Premier of Ontario as a result of the election.
Temple ran in the June 1945 federal election as the CCF candidate in High Park. He placed third. Undeterred by his previous electoral defeats, he ran again in the High Park riding, this time at the provincial level, in the 1948 Ontario election. Temple castigated Drew for softening Ontario's liquor laws, claiming the Premier was the captive of "liquor interests" due to the government's decision to allow liquor sales in cocktail bars. While Drew's party swept to victory across the province, Drew himself was defeated by Temple, and decided to resign as premier and move to federal politics.
He continued to hound Drew after being elected. In the fall of 1948, Drew become the leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives. He needed a seat in the federal parliament and contested a by-election in the Ottawa-area electoral district of Carleton in order to win a seat in the House of Commons. The federal Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was determined to defeat him, so they ran Eugene Forsey as their candidate. Temple was brought up from Toronto to appear at a political meeting with Drew, and accused the Tory leader of being "a tool of the liquor interests" and also made suggestions about Drew's sobriety. Throughout the evening Drew grew more red-faced and explosive, every time Temple spoke. Finally, after Drew misheard Temple calling him dishonest, the two men were restrained before the could come to physical blows with each other. A riot was barely averted, and the meeting had to be terminated. However, on 20 December 1948 Drew soundly defeated Forsey, and went on to sit in Parliament.
As a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Temple fought for temperance and for housing for World War II veterans. Temple remained in the Ontario legislature until his defeat in the 1951 election. After his defeat, he returned to the clothing import business until his retirement in the late 1960s.
Temple remained an activist in the CCF and its successor, the Ontario New Democratic Party, for much of his life but resigned from the NDP in 1987, stating that he "cannot possibly accept the liquor policy of the party."
He remained active in West Toronto where he founded the Inter-Church Temperance League. When the community joined the city of Toronto in 1909, it did so on condition of remaining a "dry" district where alcohol sales were prohibited, as they had been since 1904. Temple and his Temperance League fought for half a century to maintain that regulation despite attempts by the city to reverse it. Over the years, several plebiscites were held on allowing alcohol sales, and Temple and his supporters successfully fought against permitting alcohol sales in referendums held in 1966, 1972, 1984. He died several months before a 1988 plebiscite, but had already begun the campaign, and his supporters credited him with their victory.
He acquired the nickname "Temperance Willie" while serving in the RCAF. His anti-liquor attitudes formed in his early years as a result of his father's alcoholism as well as his Methodist upbringing and experiences in the military.
He admitted to having a few drinks during World War I, "Of course I've had a drink, you cannot go through two world wars without taking a drink," he told the Globe and Mail but added "I think I had a few on Nov. 11, 1918, but I don't really remember having any since."
It was not until after Temple's death that neighbourhoods in the area finally voted to allow alcohol sales beginning in 1994 in the St. Clair West area, and ending in The Junction in 2000, when the last dry region in west Toronto became wet.
Temple was also a supporter of trade union rights throughout his life, and walked on countless picket lines. In the fall of 1973, during a strike by The Canadian Textiles and Chemical Union at Artistic Woodworking in North York, while on the picket line, he was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer. When Temple's case was brought to trial, the officer who had allegedly been assaulted (who was twice Temple's size and more than half his age) claimed in testimony that he had smelled alcohol on Temple's breath. This caused more offence to Temple than the claim that he had committed an assault, and a long series of character witnesses testified that Temple had never consumed anything stronger than ginger ale as long as they had known him. The charges were dismissed.
Temple was raised a Methodist and was a member of the United Church of Canada, where he attended every Sunday, although in the latter years of his life he said his religious views were probably closer to the Unitarian Church.
Temple was predeceased by his son, William Jr., in 1956. His wife, Mary Temple, served for a period as an alderman on the Toronto City Council for Ward 7 from 1959 to 1969, and had previously served as a school trustee for the ward. She also served as Chair of the Toronto School Board.
Temple died on April 9, 1988, in the Queensway General Hospital, after a short illiness at the age of 89.
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