In 1904 Ames, running in the constituency of Montréal-St Antoine, won election to the House of Commons as a Conservative and served in federal politics until 1920. Late in 1919 he was appointed a financial director to the Secretariat of the League of Nations in Geneva, and also held other posts with the league. He is best remembered, however, for a series of articles published first in the Montreal Star and then in 1897, in a book entitled The City Below the Hill. It was one of the earliest sociological descriptions of the working-class district of west-end Montréal, and expressed Ames's conviction that poverty and the social problems associated with it were less a consequence of laziness and intemperance than of sporadic and irregular employment at inadequate rates of remuneration. He was convinced that the poor, if given the opportunity, would work to escape the poverty of slum life. In the companies with which he was associated, Ames tried to promote progressive employment practices, but in later life his reformist zeal was diverted to national and then to international politics, where he worked in the interests of imperial trade and international peace.
Author T.D. REGEHR