Tim Hudak is the new leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, beating rivals Frank Klees and Christine Elliott to replace John Tory.

Hudak, 41, took the lead in the first round of voting, and his rivals were never able to catch up.

In the second round of voting, Hudak had 4,128 electoral ballots.

Klees, his closest rival, trailed at 3,299 votes, while Elliott -- the wife of federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty -- was third with 2,903.

In the first round of voting, right-wing candidate Randy Hillier only managed 1,013, so was cut from the second round. His votes were re-distributed to his supporters' second choice.

More than 40,000 party members in Ontario's 107 ridings were eligible to vote.

Hudak replaces John Tory, who resigned his post last March. On Saturday, supporters paid respects to Tory's term as leader, while gently referencing his losing battles in provincial politics.

Former premier Bill Davis called Tory the best premier Ontario never had. Tory lost the 2007 election after promising to extend public funding to religious schools beyond Catholic institutions -- a sensitive subject that most political leaders tried to avoid.

Tory never recovered from the political misstep, and he was soundly defeated by Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. Tory also failed to win a seat.

But a tribute video focused on Tory's decency and fair-mindedness, and noted that he managed to eliminate the party's $10 million debt after taking control in 2004.

On Saturday, he warned his party that they should unite under the next leader to protect their future.

"I was blessed with the tireless support of many, but I did not have as the party's leader at all times -- as one must -- the benefit of a fully united caucus and party," he said.

"That is history, but the responsibility we have as people who want to see this party win is to make sure we learn from history."

With files from The Canadian Press