Meet William Andrew White III, The First Black Canadian to Run for Federal Office in Canada

William Andrew (Bill) White, III, OC was a Canadian composer and social justice activist, who was the first Black Canadian to run for federal office in Canada.


Born on February 7, 1915, in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was the son of a Baptist minister, the brother of famed Canadian concert singer Portia White, labor union leader Jack White, and television performer Lorne White. He was the father of software designer W. Romney White, folk musician Chris White, Toronto physician Laurie White, social activist and politician Sheila White and professional musician Tim White.

He was the first black Canadian to run for federal office in Canada when he was the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation candidate in the electoral district of Spadina, Canada in the 1949 election; he was not elected.

In 1970, White was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and joined the Order in 1971. The Order of Canada appointment was for “services to the community and his contribution to better relations and understanding between people of different racial background.” In 1976, White received the Scarborough Citizen of the Year.

His older sister, Portia White was a famous Canadian classical vocalist who has been declared “a person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada, Bill White died in New Zealand on January 23, 1981.

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