Charles Winnans Cox was born near London, Ontario in 1882, and ventured out west during his teenage years, working as a ranch hand in Alberta. Cox had relocated to Port Arthur by 1908, and was working as a timber contractor by 1912, taking out pulpwood from Black Bay. By the early 1920s, Cox was the most prominent timber operator in the area, obtaining pulpwood from Nipigon, Hurkett, and Black Bay, and supplying such companies as the Hammermill Paper Company and the Detroit Sulphite Pulp and Paper Company. Cox incorporated his company, Charles W. Cox Co. Ltd., in 1924, and also worked as a general contractor.
In the Provincial Election of 1934, Cox ran as a Liberal for the Port Arthur riding and was elected with nearly 60 per cent of the vote. He was appointed Minister Without Portfolio by Premier Mitchell Hepburn in 1936. In 1937, Cox’s face was burned and scarred by acid after an affair with a 32-year-old school teacher ended badly. The incident proved to hurt his provincial political career, as he was elected again, but was not made Cabinet Minister. He held this seat until 1943, the entire term concurrent with his service as Mayor of Port Arthur. Later, Cox represented the Fort William riding at Queen's Park for one term.
Cox was first elected Mayor of Port Arthur in 1934 and served an astounding 16 years in office, nearly all of it consecutively. During his time as Mayor, Cox used his powers of persuasion to convince the government to choose Port Arthur to be the site of a new mental health hospital, rather than Fort William.
In 1948, Cox decided to retire as Mayor of Port Arthur, but then chose to run in the Fort William Mayoral election. Unsurprisingly, he was defeated by the Fort William politician Hubert Badanai. He did win the Fort William seat in the provincial election of that year. His last political victory was his election once more as Port Arthur's Mayor in 1952, defeating incumbent Frederick Oliver Robinson by 113 votes.
Born: July 7, 1882 in Westminster Township, Middlesex County, Ontario
Died: March 28, 1958 in Port Arthur, Ontario at the age of 75
Member of Legislative Assembly: Liberal MLA Port Arthur Riding 1937-1945, Liberal MLA Fort William Riding 1948-1951
Mayoral Candidate: Port Arthur Mayoral Candidate 1933, 1950, 1953; Fort William Mayoral Candidate 1949
Mayor: 1934-1948, 1952
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