Henry J. Friel

Henry James Friel
Mayor of Bytown
Assumed office
Preceded by Joseph-Balsora Turgeon
Succeeded by John Bower Lewis
Mayor of Ottawa
Assumed office
Preceded by Alexander Workman
Succeeded by Moss Kent Dickinson
Mayor of Ottawa
In office
Preceded by Robert Lyon (politician)
Succeeded by John Rochester (politician)
Personal details
Born 1823
Montreal, Quebec
Died May 16, 1869
Religion Roman Catholic

Henry James Friel (1823 May 16, 1869) was mayor of Bytown in 1854 and then of Ottawa in 1863 and 1868-1869.[1]

He was born in Montreal of Irish Catholic parents in 1823. His family moved to Bytown, which was later renamed Ottawa, in 1827. In 1846, he purchased the Bytown Packet, a local newspaper, with John George Bell. He sold this paper in 1849; it was eventually to become the Ottawa Citizen. In 1858, he established a new paper, the Ottawa Union; he eventually sold it to a rival paper, the Ottawa Times in 1866.

Friel was elected to Bytown's first town council in 1847. He was defeated the following year, but elected alderman in 1850, 1853 and 1854, when he was elected mayor. He also served on the executive of the Bytown Mechanics' Institute.

The municipality of Bytown became the new city of Ottawa in 1855. Friel was elected alderman there from 1855 to 1858 and in 1864, 1865 and 1867. In 1863, he was a member of the first Board of Police Commissioners for Ottawa. The board, with the aim of avoiding unnecessary expense, originally concluded that there was no need for a salaried police force in the city. However, in May that same year, the militia had to be called in to control a riot in the city. In 1865, a bylaw was introduced establishing an official police force. In 1868, while mayor, Friel posted a proclamation announcing a $2,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the assassin of Thomas D'Arcy McGee.

He died in Ottawa in 1869 of pneumonia while still in office. His funeral sermon was delivered in Notre-Dame Cathedral (Ottawa) on Wednesday, 19 May 1869 by Aeneas Mcdonell Dawson.


  1. Dave Mullington "Chain of Office: Biographic Sketches of Ottawa's Mayors (1847-1948)" (Renfrew, Ontario: General Store Publishing House, 2005)
  • Dawson, Aeneas Mcdonell (August 17, 2011), Sermon Delivered In The Cathedral Of Ottawa At The Funeral Of The Late H. J. Friel, Esq., Mayor Of Ottawa, On Wednesday, 19th May, 1869 by Aeneas Mcdonell Dawson, Ottawa, Ontario: Nabu Press This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction 

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