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Saint John, New Brunswick
Man of the People
A Saint John businessman who embraced socialist ideas,
Warren Franklin Hatheway spent his life trying to better the lot of the working class.


Man of the Prople, Warren Franklin Hatheway
Hatheway as Saint John Board of Trade president, 1884.
(Courtesy of the New Brunswick Museum)

By Valerie Evans

    THE ENDING of the obituary in the Saint John Evening Times Star, of October 30, 1923 for Warren Franklin Hatheway stated, "A good citizen has passed away."
   Frank Hatheway was more than a good citizen. He was an extraordinary man, thinker ahead of his time. He was trying to solve social pibblems most of the population did not even recognize. He was a fighter but not-a revolutionary. He believed change should come through the government and he used all his many skills in getting government to do the right thing, especially for the labouring class.
    A prolific writer, in 1906 he published The Mechanic and Labourer and the Cry of Labor. In this he strongly advocates change through the government process. "You forget your strongest weapon - the ballot. You men of labor belong to the first order ... of labor from which all wealth and art evolve, see to it that you advance with the time, that you get the share of life and liberty due to every decent man, and do not allow yourselves to be thrust back into tireless rounds of unending work by the ruthless hand of the millionaire."
    Sadly, very few New Brunswickers now know about W. Franklin Hatheway. There are no monuments to him, and there seems to be no mention of him in books about noteworthy New Brunswickers. Frank Hatheway is a great man who has been unjustly over looked by history.
    One of the most generous of all Hatheway's known gifts was a grant in 1916 of a large tract of rocky, wooded property at Ragged Point in north end, Saint John. It was to be used as a Labour Park or for the erection of a Labour Temple. In 1918 he added another portion Ao the original gift making a total of about 74 acres.
    This was an outstanding endowment and was presented with a simple stated purpose: "The Primary object of this trust is the establishment of a labour park ... for the recreation and educational and moral improvements of the members of labor Unions their families and friends." This was an outright gift with only one restriction - "no spirituous or malt liquor, wine or other intoxicating liquor can be sold either'at the park or the temple." An understandable stipulation, as he and his wife were strong teetotallers.
    Unfortunately the dream of a Labour Park is still that - a dream. For many years the land was leased by the Saint John and District Labour Council to tenants who had summer cottages out there. About 1980, the land was sold as the summer cottages became year round houses. There is now a subdivision built on part of the land providing a magnificent view of the St. John River. The money received from the sale has been invested and was planned to be used to acquire property elsewhere. To date this has not happened. At the present- time, The Hatheway Trust is administered by members with representation from unions associated with the Saint John Building and Construction Trades Council and Saint John and District Labour Council.
    Much of Hatheway's work benefitted all New Brunswickers. He formed the Fabian League of Saint John, a, socialist educational organization that' wanted social change made through. democratic reforms. The original society was founded in London in 1884 by a group of middle-class intellectuals who named their group for an ancient, Roman general. As President of the local Fabian League, Hatheway had become interested in the idea of compensation for workers injured or kille& on the job, and the.1pague adopted the idea. Hatheway and other members wrote and spoke to any group that would listen and eventually sent a delegation to Fredericton to discuss it with the Liberal Premier Lemuel Tweedy.
   The result was that in 1903, the Premier agreed to introduce legislation to create a Workman's Compensation Act for New Brunswick. One of the earliest, Workmen's Compensation Statutes in Canada, it is commonly known as "The Hatheway Act." The accomplishment of this feat was especially difficult because Hatheway, the main proponent, was not even an elected member of the Legislature and had never been a member of the Liberal party.
    This was an important stepping stone for labour rights in this Province but was only one of the many ways in, which Hatheway used his position and wealth to help working people. In anage when the boss was king and labourers were only as good as their muscle and sinew' he stood up for them and tried to ease their lives in many ways.
   Another example was the Factory Act' meant to regulate the conditions in New Brunswick factories. This was the first form of workplace health and safety in this province. Hatheway was instrumental in getting this act passed in 1905. It was put in place to ensure that factories were reasonably clean and safe, that there were washing facilities and bathrooms in separate locations for men and women. He also served as a volunteer factory inspector.
    BORN IN Saint John on September 16, 1850, W.F. Hatheway was one of Thomas Gilbert Hatheway and Harriet E. (Bates) Hatheway's I I children. His greatgrandfather, Ebenezer Hatheway, served as a captain of Loyalist troops in the Revolutionary War. In June 1783 Ebenezer with his wife, Mary, three children and one servant arrived in Saint John on the Symmetry. He had been a captain in the royal service but disagreed with his colonel and resigned. He then fitted out and commanded a privateer which was captured with officers and crew. In New Brunswick, Ebenezer was granted 112 acres in Burton upon which he built a house. He died in 1811 survived by his wife and seven sons.
    Young Frank was educated in the St. John Grammar school and by private tutors. He was a gifted linguist and was French Consul for Saint John for many years. After completing his schooling, he went as a clerk with Small and Hatheway Steamboats in Saint John. This firm was jointly owned by his Uncle Frederick, known as King of the Riverboats, who in 1849 entered into partnership with Otis Small and formed the Union Line Steamship Company. In 1865, they built the Empress for the Saint John-DigbyAnnapolis run. After Frederick died, he was succeeded by his brother, C.H. Hatheway in 1866.
    Perhaps Frank did not like working with Charles or maybe he just wanted a change but in 1868, he signed on as clerk with Messrs. Turnbull and Company. In 1878 he went into the wholesale grocery business in partnership with James S. Harding. Five years later, he bought his partner out and became sole owner of the company.
    That same year, on February 19, he married Ella B. Marven at Grace (Anglican) Church on Main Street. He was quite tall, around 6 feet, carried a cane, thin and dapper looking, and always neat as a pin. Frank and Ella had two daughters, Miriam and Grace. The younger daughter, Grace, had been living in Philadelphia where s ' he did research work on industrial and social economy. She returned to Saint John and in 1936 she drowned off one of the beaches in West Saint John at the age of 51.
   Although Frank was a good business man and was reasonably well-off, he was not a millionaire. The Hatheway family lived at 24 Elliot Row in a wooden house they rented from Elizabeth Melick. Ralph Wood was the son of W. Milner Wood and the stepson of Miriam (Hatheway) Wood. Although he did not meet any members of the Hatheway family until they were quite old, he remembers Ella as a "pet."
    "I just loved her," he says. "She worked on votes for women and I used to tease her by saying, 'Women don't know anything.' She would hit the roof, in a good natured way." According to Wood, Miriam was very proper and lacked both her mother and father's sense of humour.
    Wood liked Frank and considered him "a nice old gentleman." He remembers one incident when a business associate called and told Frank that there was trouble in Turkey and there might even be a war which would make some difficulties for the business. Frank replied, "Maybe we should buy a lot of Turkish Delight."
    About 1890 Hatheway put into his business a plan whereby his employees received a share of the profits in addition to their own wages. In 1898 he made the company a limited liability company called W.F. Hatheway and Company Limited and admitted several of his employees as active partners. This was a revolutionary idea at the turn of the century and it has been said that he was the first businessman in Canada - perhaps in the British Empire - to include his employees in his business. The company was later bought by Jones Schofield and then about 1946 they sold it to Atlantic Wholesalers. Neither of these companies continued to use employees as partners.
    Hatheway was a member of the Saint John Board of Trade for many years and at the annual meetings in 1893 and 1894 he was unanimously elected president. During his time in office, they had a -large increase in membership. He was a member of several Board committees including a manufacturers committee, tariff and customs regulations and Creditors Relief Act.
    In 1899 he chaired the Taxation Committee and on a motion made by him, it was resolved, "That this committee recommends that in place of the present system of taxing personal property and income within St. John, there be substituted a system of taxing by means of a business tax, a household tax, a system of business licenses and a special tax on persons not coming under those headings." Later the committee tried to amend this resolution but Hatheway was.not willing to alter his resolution in anyway.
    He was described in a contemporary newspaper as "a scholar, a man of learning with the esprit of high culture and more than that, a thinker on the most elevated lines of a school the most modern, the most opposed to routine." He was described in a contemporary newspaper as "a scholar, a man of learning with the esprit of high culture and more than that, a thinker on the most elevated lines of a school the most modern, the most opposed to routine."
    This was proven by his time in politics. In 1896, Frank Hatheway became chairman ofthe Independent Party that broke from the Conservative Party. In 1903, along with G.V. McInerney, William Shaw and John E. Wilson he contested the provincial election in Saint John and was defeated. Five years later he was elected to the Provincial Legislature. As a member he supported many ideas - more money for education and agriculture, the establishment of agricultural and technical colleges in the province, free ,school books and kindergartens, more fishing leases for Indians, preservation of the forests, the end of long-term and perpetual forest leases.
    One of his ideas which was considered very radical at the time was women's suffrage. In voting it down, one government member said, "Politics could make women worse, but never better ... putting women into politics would be like putting one good apple into a bucket of bad ones."
    Hatheway did not live long enough to see all of his ideas become law but women were granted the right to vote before his death.
   In 1922 Hatheway suffered a heart attack and was confined to his home where he died in October 1923. With the generosity and thoughtfulness that had marked his life, in July 1923 he added a codicil to his will, "in recognition of the loyal and faithful way in which the warehousemen, autotruckmen and teamsters have worked always in the interests of the W.F. Hatheway Co. Limited and particularly in recognition of the services of the late Mr. James Keenan, teamster and also of the services of the present William McColgan and John Keenan, teamsters."' He bequeathed the sum of $200 to both of those men and $300 to the mother of John Keenan. He also left $100 to each of the warehousemen and duto-truck drivers who were in his employ for a period of not less than two years.
    Bill Farren is a member of The Hatheway Trust Committee. "I have great respect for Frank Hatheway" says Farren. "He was one of those people who come along who can see things others can't. It is very important to reinstall his thoughts, his ideologies in people today. He was a very community-minded citizen, which is one of the things I absolutely love about him. It has taken a long time but when we get our park land as he wanted, we hope to finally accomplish what Mr. Hatheway wanted and provided for in his will. We want to use this to honour his thoughts and beliefs about labour and labour's friends."
    It has indeed been a long time coming and deserves to be rectified now; the time for excuses is past. Frank Hatheway was a proponent of,labourers in a time when they had very few champions in the governing group. Workers are in a much better position today than they were 84 years ago but a Labour Park or Temple would give them a place to tell their story and to show pride in their accomplishments. By setting up this endowment, Frank Hatheway was not looking for fame; he wanted labourers to appreciate themselves and their work. He stood up and was counted, and the members of the Trust and the union members they represent owe it to him to ensure that his money is used to establish a Labour Park or Temple as he wanted.
   Formerly a curator at the New Brunswick Museum, Valerie Evans is a writer living in Saint John who writes a column on seniors for the Saint John Times Globe.

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