Stuart Alexander Henderson (1863-1945)

Stuart Alexander Henderson (1863-1945) was a barrister in Victoria. His residential address was listed in the 1917 Victoria City Directory as 1160 Richardson Street, a house built in 1910 and which is still standing.

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Stuart Henderson comes into Butchart Gardens History in December 1917 when he was running for Parliament in Victoria as the Laurier-Liberal candidate in the December 1917 federal election. In a campaign speech at Victoria’s Columbia Theatre (now demolished) on 12 December, Stuart Henderson accused Robert Butchart and Captain James Troup of being war profiteers.

Stuart Alexander Henderson outside the courthouse in Hazelton in 1919 during the trial of Simon Gunanoot (BC Archives photo A-04797)
Stuart Alexander Henderson outside the courthouse in Hazelton in 1919 during the trial of Simon Gunanoot (BC Archives photo A-04797)

Here is the Daily Colonist report of this speech:


Mr. Henderson, Laurier-Liberal, Finds Little Time to Speak Because of Enthusiasm of Platform Supporters

Mr. Stewart Henderson, Liberal candidate for Victoria, is suffering somewhat from the energetic efforts of his political friends, who lent their spell-binding efforts to assist him in his campaign. For the second time this week Mr. Henderson, at the Columbia Theatre last night, found himself relegated to a greatly depleted audience and confined to a mere fraction of his expected time within which to make known to Victoria electors his stand on the issues before the electors. Mr. A.B. Clabon, of Vancouver, had his own message to deliver and he entirely forgot his friend Mr. Henderson in the energy and length of his denunciation of the late Borden Administration and in eulogy of the “old man” in which off hand manner he referred to Sir Wilfrid Laurier. After Mr. Clabon had talked for an hour, nearly two-thirds of the audience bad departed and Mr. Henderson, after touching upon but one or two of his points, was forced to conclude with the admission that had he had more time he would have “just pulverized” the arguments advanced by the Unionists. But he found time to declare 8lr Wilfrid to be the greatest national intellect in Canada and Sir Robert Borden the “prince of bunglers, owned and operated by the interests.”

The theatre was well filled when the meeting started and at times the remarks of the speakers were given hearty applause. Mr. F. H. Stephenson occupied the chair and his eulogy of the various speakers was couched in hearty language.

Mr. Hector Stewart, Laurier-Liberal candidate in Nanaimo riding, was another speaker who appeared for Mr. Henderson after ho put in a word for himself in front of an Esquimau audience. The tenor of his remarks can I be gauged from his statement that “the Union Government was formed nominally by Borden, but actually by Sir Clifford Sifton and worked in the interests of the horde of grafters who are fattening on the pangs of the common people.” As a member of the audience audibly remarked, “Pretty poor pickings, that.”

Trump Cards Again

Two returned soldiers. Privates Young and Waite, who have figured prominently at previous Opposition gatherings, were again on the platform, the former, replying to the letter from his former overseas comrade, G. W. Farquhar, which appeared in the press. Mr. Young roundly berated the Borden Administration, blamed the troubles of the soldiers upon it and declared only through Sir Wilfred Laurier’ would the needed reinforcements for the front be secured. Waite repeated his former arguments, gave a word picture of the “scandalous conditions in England” especially waxing sarcastic about the officers who refused to revert to privates to go to France and declared it to be a shame that dependents of soldiers had to resort to charity in the shape of the patriotic fund. He said he had resigned from the Great War Veterans’ Association and that a lot of returned men would vote for Laurier.

Mr. Stewart wandered from the Canadian Northern projects on Vancouver Island to conscription in the United States; declared Sir Joseph Flavelle to be “the king of grafters” and “Bob” Rogers his first lieutenant; asserted that in 1911 Sir Thomas White and seventeen others of “them interests” had signed an alliance in connection with the construction of the G. N. R. and said that all government contracts let had to go to Sir Thomas White and his associates. Mr. Stewart was strong for the “masses” and against the “classes” and for the interests pf the “common people.” He demanded the return of the Laurier Liberal candidates, including himself. He hinted at some dire scheme worked at Duncan on Tuesday night, whereby dodgers distributed about the streets announcing the time and place of his meeting had been quickly picked up by a lot of boys with the result that he had trouble in finding the hall. He made the startling statement that the enumerators could disfranchise a man with the stroke of the pen and asserted the Government had been afraid to appoint Liberal returning officers because they are too honest.

An Hour With Mr. Clabon

For one solid hour Mr. Clabon ran the charges in superlative fashion on the sins of omission and commission of the Borden Government. All the arguments used by the Laurier Liberal candidates in the campaign, arguments so familiar to Victoria electors, were used but nothing new or startling developed. He outstayed his welcome, for as his forensic efforts waxed stronger, his audience declined.

Mr. Clabon waxed eloquent over what he declared to have been lack of “square deal” for the soldiers, and when, to his oft repeated query, “Don’t you believe me?” a returned soldier stood in the audience and declared he was satisfied the men got the square deal, Mr. Clabon started off on a tirade that lasted fully ten minutes, during which time the flow of words almost overwhelmed the battle-stained hero who stood, evidently awaiting an opportunity in the verbal avalanche to get in a word. But the stream of oratory want on until others in the audience, in sympathy with the returned man, shouted “Give him a chance; let him speak.” The Mr. Clabon heisted long enough to permit the returned man to remark, “We were all willing to sacrifice to win this war and get it over with.”

Mr. Clabon’s efforts at any rate impressed the chairman, who declared as he waved his arms, “Just think. If a few Grits [Liberals] in that cabinet can clear up the whole mess, gee whiz, what would it be like if the while bunch was Grits?”

Mr. Henderson At Last

Mr. Henderson admitted the hour was late but he politely stated he was fortunate in having such earnest champions of “the cause” to assist him. He referred to a letter which a Mr. Pringle, of Victoria, had written to Sir Wilfred Laurier, asking what his action would be if returned to power, in regard to voluntary enlistments and conscription. Sir Wilfred’s reply, which Mr. Henderson took it upon himself to say, “the bought up press would refuse to publish” but would appear in “our own paper”, was as follows:
“I am in receipt this moment of your favor of 30 November and I hasten to reply. You say that ‘many voters in this riding would like to feel assured that if elected you would use your best possible efforts to effect voluntary enlistment of Quebec’s proportion in comparison with the rest of Canada, and that you would take that attitude if elected, irrespective of the proposed referendum to the people of Canada on the question of conscription, as well as of the result of such vote.’ I can answer you at once that this is exactly what I intend to do, and you can make my position known as broadly as you desire.”

Mr. Henderson then turned his attention to the Imperial Munitions Board. “There is that firm of Evans, Coleman & Evans, which does a great deal of buying for the [Imperial Munitions] Board. Mr. Butchart and Capt. Troup are the board’s chief representatives here, they tell me, without salary. But in this company of Evans, Coleman & Evans there are the following shareholders: Mr. Butchart, Capt. Troup, H.A. Ross, a son-in-law of Mr. Butchart; F. Butchart, of Owen Sound; Lieutenant-Governor F. S. Barnard and G.H. Barnard. These are the people who are making money out of munitions by getting orders, outside of lumber, who are making the great profits. That Imperial Munitions Board was granted $10,000,000 by the people of Canada for the building of ships, and Messrs. Butchart and Troup were selected by Sir Joseph Flavelle, who is head of the Imperial Munitions Board, and E.R. Wood, second in command, who is a director of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and of the C.N.R. and vice president of the Todd Inlet Cement Company [the Vancouver Portland Cement Company]. So you see right here under your very noses that when they talk of selected draft conscription what really is intended is selective graft conscription.”

[Source: Daily Colonist, 13 December 1917, page 11]

Here is a reply to Stuart Henderson’s speech from Victoria businessman Edward Gawlor Prior, which appeared in both of Victoria’s daily newspapers:

“The Imperial Munitions Board

Sir. — In your issue of today I notice a letter from Mr. R. P. Butchart, in which he takes exception to remarks reported to have been made by Mr. Stuart Henderson. the Laurier-Liberal candidate, on the 12th Inst., at the Columbia Theatre, in regard to the Imperial Munitions Board and the firm of Evans, Coleman & Evans. Now, anyone who personally knows Mr. Butchart and Capt. Troup knows that no two men of higher character and more unblemished reputation could have been chosen in British Columbia as directors of the Imperial Munitions Board. They do not need anyone to champion them on that score, but as my firm has had large business tran­sactions with the Board in connection with the shipbuilding industry carried on under their control, I think it is only fair and just that I should state what our experience with them has been.

So far as I have been able to as­certain. and my firm watches pretty carefully, no supplies of any magni­tude in the way of iron and steel needed for the ships have ever been obtained from any firm without tenders having first been invited from the principle wholesale dealers in B.C. and often from those in Seattle. as well as from manufacturers in the East.

Messrs. Evans. Coleman & Evans are competitors of ours in business, but we have never had any cause of complaint about not having been given an even chance with them and other firms in obtaining orders for supplies from the Board. It has invariably been a Question of price and delivery with us.

In two or three instances, which came to my personal knowledge, orders might easily have been given to Messrs. Evans, Coleman & Evans without tender, because they happened to have the goods in stock, but which orders were given to other firms who had to bring the materials from the East, and this because they were a fraction lower in price.

My experience is that Mr. Ross, who supervises all tenders and contracts, gives every large firm in B.C., in our experience anyway, an equal opportunity to supply the Board.

It is a great pity that whenever an election takes place there is pretty sure to be some candidate who deems it “good business” to try by innuendos to blacken the character of any men who are holding public positions of trust: and this without having even a shred of proof of illdoing on their part:

Surely during this grave crisis that we are passing through such men might rise to broader, nobler and more in­tellectual flights of imagination.


1401 Government Street, Victoria. B.C., Dec. 14, 1917.”

[Source: Daily Colonist, 15 December 1917, page 12]

Stuart Alexander Henderson (left), Simon Gunanoot (center) in Hazelton during Simon Gunanoot's murder trial, 1919 (BC Archives photo F-03836)
Stuart Alexander Henderson (left), Simon Gunanoot (center) in Hazelton during Simon Gunanoot’s murder trial, 1919 (BC Archives photo F-03836)

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