My family was politically active. We voted. Regularly. Never missed an opportunity to exercise our franchise. We always took the responsibility, and the privilege, of being able to cast a ballot very seriously.
We campaigned for candidates. I spent many hours dropping off campaign literature before I was even old enough to vote. My father, in particular, often lead campaigns for candidates with whom he was close. We were never candidates. We just managed the political campaigns for those who sought elected office.
Ellen’s family, on the other hand, is full of elected officials both in Canada and the United States. One of her great grandfathers was the Mayor of Livermore, California. Several of her cousins were the Mayor of Berlin, later Kitchener, Ontario. Her cousins have been Members of Parliament at both the provincial and federal levels, and a second great uncle was a Canadian Senator. Recently, I found another politician ‘hanging’ in her family tree – Jonathan Joseph Merner (pictured below from his official Parliament of Canada biography).
Jonathan, Ellen’s first cousin, three times removed, was born in Blake, Huron County, Ontario, then Canada West, and raised on the family farm. His father, Gottlieb Merner, was a younger brother to Sen. Samuel Merner and had immigrated with his family to British North America around 1837 or 1838 from his native Switzerland. When Jonathan was quite young, his family moved to the village of Hay in Huron County, Ontario where Jonathan attended school. Eventually, Jonathan struck out on his own, finding employment with Mr. D. D. Steinbach, a general merchant in Zurich, Ontario. His experience with Steinbach enabled Jonathan to open his own successful mercantile shop, which would come to include a large evaporator and apple jam factory.
On September 21, 1911, Jonathan was elected to represent the federal riding of Huron South in the Parliament of Canada as a member of the Conservative Party. He represented the people of his riding in southwestern rural Ontario for the next ten years, losing his Parliamentary seat in the December 1921 election.
Jonathan died of an embolus during pancreatic surgery at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Windsor. Ontario on February 25, 1929. His death registration lists his occupation at the time of his death as Retired Builder.
Interestingly, Jonathan’s biography on the Parliament of Canada website lists his date of death as February 26, 1929. For the government being off by one day might be close enough; for a genealogist, it’s wrong.