Lt. Col. Thomas Ashmore Kidd
The Sash Our Forefathers Wore
Thomas Ashmore Kidd was born in Burritts Rapids, Ontario on May 1st, 1889 to parents Thomas Albert Kidd and Esther Ennis.
In 1910, Thomas joined the 56th Grenville Lisgar Regiment and was prepared
In 1910, Kidd joined the 56th Grenville Lisgar Regiment and was prepared when growls of the First World War threatened. Four years on, “he became a member of the first Canadian military contingent to be sent to Europe in August of 1914,” Dale stated. Serving in France with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the lieutenant-colonel was severely wounded in the Battle of Ypres in April 1915. “Shortly thereafter, he returned home to Kingston a decorated hero and resumed his business career.”
The veteran plunged back into civilian life and community service. The local boys hockey league, Kingston General Hospital and Queen’s University boards benefitted from Kidd’s time, igniting an interest in politics. As well, he was a devoted Orangeman. Active in the Grand Orange Lodge of Canada, he twice held the office of Grand Master, from 1930 to 1933 and 1940 to 1947. (The Loyal Orange Association in Canada is “a Christian, Patriotic, Benevolent and Protestant Society” with a mission statement of “Working Together for Family, Community and Country.”)
Kidd married Eva Richardson (1898 to 1950) in 1920, the daughter of a local prominent family. Her father, the Hon. Henry Richardson, was a politician, senator, and president of J. Richardson and Sons Limited (international grain exporters) until his death in 1918.
The new Mrs. Kidd inherited a property from her late grandfather, the beautiful red brick home at 100 Stuart St. Built for James Richardson in approximately 1869, Kidd House is now part of the health sciences campus.
Along with connections through his in-laws, Kidd’s family also had political teeth. His uncle, Edward Kidd, was a member of Parliament for Carleton, serving from 1900 to 1905 and again from 1909 to 1912. A cousin, George Nelson Kidd, was a member of the provincial Legislature from 1905 to 1908.
Vying for city council, Kidd was elected alderman for Sydenham Ward, serving from 1924 to 1926. A member of several committees, including charities and industries, according to Dale, the freshman politician was also finance committee president and Kingston Board of Works chairman. Council duties were a good warm-up for advancing on to the next level of government.
Winning nomination as Conservative candidate for Kingston, Kidd challenged William Folger Nickle for a place in the provincial Legislature. Nickle had resigned his cabinet post to “protest the government’s decision to run for re-election on the platform of repealing the Ontario Temperance Act and allowing government controlled liquor sales,” according to Queen’s University Archives. A solid prohibitionist, Nickle ran as an independent candidate.
“Kidd’s status as a member of one of the most influential Tory families in the area made the outcome of the contest fairly certain,” Dale said. Receiving 60 per cent of the vote, Kidd won the election in 1926.
On re-election in 1929, Thomas Kidd was appointed Speaker of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly the next year. At that time, new powers were given to Speakers. Among the changes, the Speaker was now authorized to “name” Legislature members who “continued to talk after being asked to cease.” Naming meant the offending politician could be kicked out of the day’s sitting.
Elected again in 1937, Kidd was appointed chief party whip by Conservative Leader William Earl Rowe. (Rowe later became lieutenant-governor of Ontario.) Kidd resigned in 1940 to step up the ladder into federal politics.
Failing in his first attempt, the resolute Kidd campaigned next time around and was voted into the House of Commons in 1945. The earnest veteran used his platform concerns of constituents that affected many Canadians.
Kidd produced specific examples to describe problems that government could rectify. He fought for constituents, immigration rights, education, railway issues and more. No doubt a matter close to his heart, Kidd brought forward pension rights for military veterans of both wars, in whose cases benefits were slashed.
Attending university after the war, veterans had to keep a B average or above or lose their funding, even after the grade was improved. As well, medical benefits were cut at dire moments, and pensions were at risk.
One situation had Parliament’s attention on May 12, 1948. Kidd described how a career soldier was discharged with full pension and benefits. A stroke in January 1948 left the man “totally disabled and unlikely to recover. Here is a veteran with 20 years of continuous service in the permanent force, yet, the pension board has reduced his pension from 100 per cent to 40 per cent.” There were many more such grim instances for Kidd to bring before the government.
Kidd lost the election in 1949 to Liberal candidate William Henderson. A lawyer, Henderson was appointed judge to Supreme Court of Ontario in 1965. Justice Henderson is considered a founder of Amherstview.
Returning home to Kingston, Kidd continued in business. His beloved wife, Eva, died in 1950 and Kidd died at age 84 on Dec. 19, 1973. There were no children to survive them. According to the newspaper notice, visitation was held at the stately Kidd House.
Defending the country, fighting for constituent rights, participating in KGH and Queen’s operations, Thomas Ashmore Kidd earned lasting recognition in Kingston. But … who are Taylor and Davies?
Susanna McLeod is a writer living in Kingston.