Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker may have been born in Scotland but his history and connections to Prince Edward Island run long and deep. His great, great, grandfather George Brown was one of the Fathers of Confederation.
George Brown came to Prince Edward Island in the summer of 1864 and played a pivotal role in the creation of the greatest country in the world. Now, 155 years later, his great, great grandson Peter could be on the brink of creating the first Green government in the world, right here on that same Island.
George Brown was a Scottish-Canadian journalist, and liberal parliamentarian who founded the Toronto Globe (now the Globe and Mail) newspaper, and was a key member of the Fathers of Confederation. The Canadian Encyclopedia describes him as an articulate champion of the grievances and anger felt by many underrepresented Canadians. In the 1830s, he led the Reformist Movement which played a major role in securing national unity by mobilizing citizens to demand a more representative and responsible form of government.
Today, like his great, great grandfather, Peter Bevan-Baker is also a leading figure in reforming politics. He too articulates the grievances of many people and is inspiring them to consider a new way of doing politics.
“Until I came to Canada we really knew very little about George Brown. It was just not a big part of family lore. But when I came, my dad said we have an ancestor who lived in Canada, and we should try and find out about him,” said Bevan-Baker.
Peter went on to describe his great, great, grandfather. “He was a pretty gruff person by all accounts. He was 6 feet 4 inches tall and quite dour. He was an intense man involved in politics and business, and didn’t marry until very late in life. But on a trip back to Scotland he met a woman called Anne, who was an incredibly important moderating and softening influence on him. After this, he became open minded and there was a real change on his outlook on life,” said Bevan- Baker.
He said family history indicates that it was Anne’s presence at that time of turbulent political shuffling between the Grits and Tories, that encouraged Brown to support John A MacDonald in making confederation work. Until then the two had been bitter enemies. That agreement allowed them to come to Charlottetown in 1864.
When asked how he thinks of himself in connection with George Brown, Bevan-Baker (who also married an Ann), responded quietly.
“It’s funny, I find it really interesting that what started here in Charlottetown, has come full circle in my life. I know my great, great, grandfather was an honorable and very bright man, and a fantastic orator, and that he was a principled man. And I like that, because politics and principle don’t always go together. But I am proud of what he did, and I think he might be proud of what we are doing here now."
Article by Nancy Willis and Phil Ferraro