Harnum, Hon. Ewart John Arlington (1910-1996)

Lieutenant Governor, 1969-1974

Harnum was born in 1910 on Sound Island in Placentia Bay. He graduated from Bishop Feild College and started working for Dale and Company in 1928. In 1930 he joined Bowring Insurance and, in 1949, moved to Mutual Life Insurance of Canada. In 1952, he left Mutual life to join W.U. Knowling Insurance and finally formed his own company in 1956. He owned Harnum Insurance Agencies until his retirement in 1974. Harnum was involved with several professional insurance associations including the Newfoundland Board of Insurance Underwriters, the Newfoundland Insurance Agents Association, and, as its first president, the Insurance Institution of Newfoundland. Harnum became Newfoundland's lieutenant governor in 1969.

Harnum's appointment came at a politically intense time. Smallwood's Liberals were on the way out while Frank Moores' Progressive Conservative party was gaining momentum. In the 1971 election, the PC's won a majority but it was so slight that if a Tory speaker was elected, the Liberals would have more seats. Harnum faced the possibility of having to choose a party to form the government. But it never came to that. One Independent was elected and another seat was being contested. Both parties worked hard to gain the Independent's support while votes for the contested seat were recounted. Moores appealed to Harnum to call a sitting of the House during the recount. Harnum replied that he would consider the matter. But when the PC's eventually won the contested seat and the Independent decided to back the Liberals, he was forced to call a sitting ­ the Tories now held 19 seats and the Liberals 20, and a dissolution. The subsequent election gave the PC's a clear majority.

Harnum remained active in community affairs after his term ended in 1974. That year he became president of St. John Ambulance. In 1978, he served as chair of the Canadian Games for the Physically Disabled. He was also involved with the Newfoundland Board of Trade and the St. Thomas' Anglican Church. For more than forty years, Harnum was a mason with the Grand Lodge of Scotland. He received a Doctor of Laws from Memorial University in 1975. He died in St. John's on February 29, 1996.

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