The Minister

Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Ballantyne
245th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) BattalionBallantyne

Mr. HUGHES: The hon. gentleman on his return from overseas, was one of the most wrathy men I ever met.

Mr. BALLANTYNE: Disappointed.

Mr. MCMASTER: The remarks of the ex-Minister of Militia may be very interesting, but I would ask him to speak a little louder, so that we all may get the benefit of them.

Mr. HUGHES: I was saying that the present Minister of the Marine and Fisheries, on his return from England was—I will not say the maddest man, but one of the most intensely disappointed men that it has ever been my privilege to meet.

(Debates, 10 Apr 1918, 597)

Born on 9 August 1867, Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne was a Montreal industrialist and millionaire through marriage. He raised the 245th Battalion in late 1916 and departed for England with less than three-hundred volunteers in May 1917. After the breakup of his unit, Ballantyne became one of the hundreds of unemployed senior officers in London.

Unable to find a useful military or administrative position, he returned to Canada. Although Ballantyne did not yet have a seat in Parliament, in October 1917, he was appointed Minister of Public Works and Minister of Marine and Fisheries in the Borden Government.

A Liberal supporter before the war, during the December 1917 federal election Ballantyne ran as a Unionist candidate in the riding of St. Lawrence—St. George. During the campaign, Liberal MP Rodolphe Lemieux mocked him as a “safety-first colonel.” Ballantyne had offered to revert in rank but military officials denied him a field post due to his age. Defending himself against Lemieux’s accusation, Ballantyne responded, “I thought the only manly and straightforward thing to do was to return to Canada.”

245thPosterIn the election result, Ballantyne was one of the only Unionists to win a seat from Quebec. Although he secured the civilian vote by over 900, the military totals gave him a healthy margin. The soldier vote was 2088 to 131 for his opponent.

In Parliament, former Minister of Militia Sam Hughes used Ballantyne’s experience overseas in order to criticize the government’s handling of the surplus officer problem. Reflecting his own feelings of bitterness and anger over his dismissal from Cabinet in November 1916, Hughes claimed Ballantyne had been “thrown out like a buccaneer.”

Ballantyne disputed Hughes’ characterization, stating, “I knew full well, however, before I left that this [battalion] system would prevail, and I can find no fault with the treatment accorded me.” Defeated for re-election in 1921, Ballantyne was later appointed to the Senate by R. B. Bennett in 1935, where he served until his death in 1950.

Digitized Service File (LAC):


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