Dr. Patrick's great-grandfather, Thomas 1st who was from Tipperary, Ireland had immigrated to the Eastern Townships of Québec in 1822. In 1833, his grandfather and father moved further west into Ontario. In 1864, Thomas Alfred was born on a farm in Middlesex County. After high school, he taught school until he commenced studies in medicine at the Western University of London. Following his graduation, Dr. Patrick spent some time in Michigan, then returning to Ontario. With his American experience, he had acquired a taste for adventure, and decided he would come west. He arrived in Saltcoats in April of 1889 where he established a practice. In 1890, he arranged for his fiancée, Marion Griffith to come west to be married. She arrived in Birdle, Manitoba accompanied by her sister, and it was there that she and Doctor Patrick were wed on March 8. They stayed in Saltcoats until 1894, when the family moved to Yorkton.
Doctor Patrick started being in the political spotlight when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories on October 26, 1897, after F.R. Insinger resigned. At that point, the territorial government was engaging in debates about the formation of two provinces. He declared himself in favour of one province in a speech before the Assembly on Sept. 29, 1898. He felt because of the area's low population it should still be governed federally. By 1901 however, he was an advocate of the two-province concept. Due to a large influx of immigrants at the time, he felt that now the people should have a greater voice in the affairs of the West. This would be his platform from then on throughout his years of service. In the 1902 campaign, Dr. Patrick described his involvements as follows:
In the ensuing Territorial elections of 1902 I sought re-election in Yorkton as an opponent of the Government, and as an advocate of the establishment of two provinces between the International Boundary and the 60th Parallel, divided into approximately equal areas by the 110th Meridian and bounded on the west by British Columbia and on the east by the existing boundary with Manitoba produced north to the 60th Parallel. I was the only candidate who sought election in 1902 on a platform restricted to the two-province issue.
In the 1902 election there were 35 members elected or re-elected to the Legislature, and as the lone member to campaign on the creation of boundaries for two-provinces as outlined in his statement, which was ultimately to be the accepted choice, it certainly appears that the concept can be credited to Dr. Patrick.
The people of Yorkton constituency, impressed by his campaign, gave Dr. Patrick a large majority — 408 votes compared to 141 for James E. Peaker. In his victory statements, Patrick thanked his supporters, and made special mention of the assistance of many ladies "who honoured us by their attendance at meetings, and who, by their advocacy of the cause may fairly claim that if they were unable to vote in person, they at least voted by proxy."
Dr. Patrick ran again in the election of 1904, but lost to Doctor Edward L. Cash, another Yorkton medical practitioner turned politician.
When all the records and reports together are considered, it soon becomes obvious that a passionate debate amongst the political and business circles, the ordinary citizen of the West and the rest of the country was taking place. These were not politically boring times.
By January of 1905, dispatches from Ottawa indicated that the establishment of two provinces was in the making. The news caused a stir and was the subject of newspaper editorials all across the country. The local editor speculated that the dividing line would be the 4th principal meridian of the Dominion Land Surveys, because it cut the large territory in question in half. It was tossed around that the new eastern province's name would be Assiniboia, and the western one Alberta. But, the name "Saskatchewan" which in the Cree language meant "swiftly flowing waters" was ultimately chosen, probably because the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers bore the name already.
On July 18, 1905 the Senate passed Bills # 69 and #70 establishing the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, using boundaries exactly as suggested and lobbied by T.A. Patrick. Saskatchewan officially became a province on September 1st, 1905, with Regina as its capital.
Dr. Patrick was an out-spoken pioneer of local and provincial issues of conservation and education. Patrick Park in Yorkton is named in his honour. In the 1930s, he belonged to a Commission investigating drought conditions in the southern part of the province. In education, he was elected to the Senate of the University of Saskatchewan in 1913. Interestingly enough, he was an advocate of making the French language mandatory instead of optional for matriculation, even at the cost of removing Latin as obligatory and making it optional. He wanted the University of Saskatchewan to be a leader on the bilingual issue for all Canadian Universities, proclaiming that it was in the interest of national unity.
He was also involved in business, as he played a role in the development of the Yorkton Enterprise. The Yorkton Printing and Publishing Company was founded December 21, 1896. Patrick was a long-time shareholder, and in the early years wrote editorials. In 1993, he was honoured by the Board of Trade, for being involved in the betterment of the Province and the Community.
Dr. T.A. Patrick died in 1943, his wife Marion having passed away in 1934. Both are interred in the City of Yorkton Cemetery. They had four children, Mabel, Gertrude, Edith and George. Readers are referred to the book PIONEER OF VISION authored by C.J. Houston and C. Stuart Houston for more information on this Yorkton pioneer.
Terri Lefebvre Prince,
City of Yorkton Archives,
City of Yorkton,
37 Third Avenue North,
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3