William C. Riggs
William C. Riggs (Bill) served as 26th mayor of Windsor from August through December of 1969, following Mayor John Wheelton’s early retirement from the position.
In perhaps the most unusual mayoralty contest ever conducted in Canada, William C. Riggs won the appointment of mayor of Windsor by drawing the highest card from a deck – the queen of hearts. Following the early resignation of Mayor John Wheelton, four aldermen received nominations to fill the vacant position for the five month gap until the next term. Things became interesting when each alderman nominated received two votes from council. According to procedures laid out by the Ontario Municipal Act, in the event of a tie for the mayor’s position the matter would be determined by a draw cast by the clerk. City Clerk John B. Adamac suggested a card draw, which was unanimously supported by council. Riggs pulled the queen of hearts, which beat out his opponents who drew jack, seven, and five respectively.
Prior to his appointment as mayor, William Riggs had been a member of council for 19 years and was well known for being an outspoken political figure who told it like it was. Born in Bournemouth, England in 1896, Mr. Riggs came to Canada with his parents in 1903, first settling in Belleville, Ontario. In 1915 he enlisted with the Canadian Army, and served in France with the 33rd Battery for three years. In 1920 he joined the staff of the composing room at the Windsor Star, and stayed with the paper for the duration of his 42 year career. As an active trade unionist he was involved with numerous boards and organizations, but it was his appointment to the Windsor Public Library Board in 1936 that launched his public career. He served as an MPP for Windsor-Walkerville as a CCF candidate from 1943-1945, and in 1946 was elected to Windsor City Council as alderman, a position he for the most part held until 1969, when he was appointed mayor. Following his brief stint as mayor he retired from politics at the age of 73. He served on the Windsor Public Library board for twenty years, in addition to many others including Windsor Housing and the Mental Health Council. Bill Riggs passed away in 1974 at the age of 77.
Shields, Bill. “It was in the cards for William C. Riggs.” Windsor Star, July 29, 1969.
Shields, Bill. “Bill Riggs calls shots.” Windsor Star, August 2, 1969.
Riggs dies at 77. The Windsor Star, January 3, 1974.