The Ontario Green party was hoping to make history on Wednesday night by electing a party member to the legislature for the first time, but the high expectations came up short.

Candidate Shane Jolley, running in the southwestern riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, was considered the party's best shot at earning a seat.

Jolley garnered 35.1 per cent of the vote, but lost to Progressive Conservative candidate Bill Murdoch, who received 45.4 per cent of the vote.

Jolley, a married father of three who sells organic and sweatshop-free clothing out of an "alternative'' bicycle shop in Owen Sound, had been running close behind Murdoch, the incumbent and veteran politician.

Opinions polls showed Jolley had almost 30 per cent support. He won nearly 13 per cent of the popular vote when he ran for the Greens in the 2006 federal campaign.

"Voters in this riding have never been afraid to make history," an optimist Jolley told CTV's Andria Case before the results were known.

If any Green candidate had earned a seat, they would have become the first elected party member to hold a seat in Canadian politics.

The Ontario Greens had a candidate in every riding for the first time.

Party leader Frank de Jong, who only won about 10 per cent of the vote in the Toronto riding he was running, said the political landscape has changed.

"We've tripled our vote and we've come third in many ridings," he told CTV's Naomi Parness after the results were in.

"We're thrilled. It's a huge gain. Politics will never be the same in Ontario again."

The 51-year-old elementary school music teacher was hoping for a Liberal minority and a referendum win that would have overhauled the electoral system. He didn't get either.

De Jong was confident he had swayed voters on his proposals to shift the tax burden to pollutants rather than income and to compensate farmers for ecological services.

He has vowed to remain on as party leader for as long as members wish to keep him.

A Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey released last week suggested support for the Greens across Canada is on the rise.

Polls leading up to election day in Ontario suggested the Greens had about 10 per cent popular support.

With files from The Canadian Press