Joey Smallwood

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Joey Smallwood (center)

Joseph Roberts "Joey" Smallwood CC (December 24, 1900 - December 18, 1991) was the last Father of Confederation in Canada, bringing Newfoundland into Confederation in 1949.

Joey Smallwood was born in Gambo, Newfoundland and grew up in St. John's. As a teenager he worked as an apprentice at a newspaper and moved to New York City in 1920. In New York he worked for a socialist newspaper and met his wife, Clara in 1925. Back in Newfoundland in 1926 he founded a newspaper of his own in Corner Brook.

In 1928 he acted as campaign manager for the Prime Minister of the dominion, Sir Richard Squires. He also ran as a Liberal candidate in Bonavista in 1932, but lost the election. He continued to work for various newspapers and hosted a radio program beginning in 1937 that talked about Newfoundland's history and culture.

In 1946 he became a delegate at the National Convention, which was organized to make recommendations to the British government about the constitutional future of Newfoundland which would be placed before the people of the country in a constitutional referendum. Smallwood supported joining Canada, arguing that union with Canada would bring economic prosperity. He was a member of the delegation that travelled to Ottawa to discuss union. He created yet another newspaper, The Confederate, to promote Confederation. The referendum was successful, and in 1949, as leader of the Liberal Party, Smallwood was elected Premier of the new province. He ran Newfoundland virtually unchallenged for 22 years and won 6 elections. The seventh resulted in a tie in 1971.

He remained premier until 1972, and remained a member of the House of Assembly until 1977. After resigning from politics he launched and was editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, publishing the first two volumes in 1981 and 1984. He died in 1991, before the entire Encyclopedia was published.

In 1986 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. A Marine Atlantic ferry, the M/V Joseph and Clara Smallwood honours Newfoundland and Labrador's most prominent political family.

Preceded by:
Commission of Government
1934-1949
Premier of Newfoundland
1949-1972
Succeeded by:
Frank D. Moores
1972-1979
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