'Just Call Me Mitch': The Life of Mitchell F Hepburn


637 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-3468-3
DDC 971.3'04'092




Reviewed by Gerald J. Stortz

Gerald J. Stortz is an assistant professor of history at the University
of Waterloo.


The biography of Mitch Hepburn, one of Ontario’s most controversial
premiers, has long been anticipated; it has been worth the wait. York
University historian John T. Saywell has done a magnificent job of
capturing the spirit of this most unusual individual.

At first glance, Mitch Hepburn seems to be at odds with Ontario’s
staid conservative images. His image is certainly at odds with that of
other successful provincial premiers—such as William Davis, whose most
famous quote may be “Bland works.” Yet, as Saywell so ably
illustrates, Hepburn was the right man in the right place at the right
time. In the midst of the Depression, when Ontarians resented government
bureaucracy and big business, Hepburn was able to portray himself as one
of the people, although his administration actually had a close
relationship with millionaire industrialists. Because of his image, his
followers were, until the end of his career, willing to overlook
Hepburn’s womanizing and his heavy drinking. This is the story of a
true populist, who, some would say, ruined the provincial Liberal party.

At first glance, it might be argued that this volume is too long.
However, Saywell uses the book’s length to advantage, so that by the
end the reader feels on intimate terms with “Mitch.”


Saywell, John T., “'Just Call Me Mitch': The Life of Mitchell F Hepburn,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/30249.