Based on the Patrons of Industry of Michigan that had formed in 1889, it declared itself independent of the American group in 1891. It was dedicated to upholding and encouraging the moral, social, intellectual, political and financial situation of rural Ontarians and to preserve the way of life that existed in farming communities in the late nineteenth century against encroaching industrialization. The Patrons' membership exceeded 30,000 at its peak.
It nominated candidates in the 1894 Ontario provincial election. Sixteen members of the Legislative Assembly were elected with Patrons of Industry support -- 12 Liberals, one Conservative, and three who ran only under the "Patrons of Industry" banner.
The party was soon divided on the question of cooperation with the Ontario Liberal Party. The party achieved few gains for farmers, and the group was virtually extinct by 1900.
It has been argued by some that the Patrons represented a constant left-wing element in the Canadian Electorate, represented today by the New Democratic Party.