1892 Edmonton municipal election

The 1892 Edmonton municipal election, held February 10, 1892, was the first after the incorporation of Edmonton as a town in the North-West Territories on January 9, 1892,[1] and was held to elect the new town's first town council (consisting of a mayor and six aldermen) for a one-year term.[2] Matthew McCauley was acclaimed as Edmonton's first mayor, Voters elected six aldermen -Colin Strang, Daniel Fraser, Edward Carey, James Goodridge, John Cameron, and Philip Daly - from a field of fourteen candidates.

Matthew McCauley, who was acclaimed as mayor in the 1892 election
Colin Strang
Daniel Fraser
Edward Carey
James Goodridge
John Cameron
Philip Daly



In 1891, the Canadian Pacific Railway's main line, which had passed well south of Edmonton, was extended northward into Strathcona, then known as South Edmonton.[3] Edmonton came to fear that the presence of the railway across the North Saskatchewan River would result in it being surpassed by its southern neighbour, and calls for the railway to be brought to Edmonton grew louder (this objective would be achieved in 1905).[4] As part of these efforts, it was judged appropriate to apply for a town charter, which was granted effective February 15, 1892, when the first town council was to be sworn into office. The election of the first council was fixed for February 10.[5]



Nomination day was February 3, one week before the election, and nominations were accepted between ten am and noon.[6] All nominated candidates ran as independents, as political parties did not begin to make their appearance until after Edmonton was incorporated as a city in 1904.[7]

Mayoral nominations


Matthew McCauley was nominated by George Sanderson and Colin Strang and was the only mayoral candidate nominated. As such, he was declared elected by acclamation.[8]

Aldermanic nominations


Although there would eventually be fourteen candidates contesting the election, on nomination day there were seventeen nominated.[8]

Candidate Nominated By
A. F. DeGagne A. D. Osborne, John Kelly Accepted
J. Knowles John Kelly, T. H. Stewart, Thomas Henderson Accepted
Kenneth McLeod Thomas Henderson, John Kelly Accepted, but withdrew just after the poll opened[9]
George Sanderson Thomas Henderson, S. S. Taylor Accepted
James McDonald W. S. Robertson, S. S. Taylor Accepted
E. Rayner M. S. Connor, J. G. Lauder, J. R. Michael Declined
John Alexander McDougall W. Fielders, S. S. Taylor Accepted
Edward Carey John Alexander McDougall, W. Fielders Accepted
Colin Strang W. Fielders, S. S. Taylor Accepted
James Goodridge Colin Strang, Edward Loopy Accepted
John Cameron Colin Strang, W. Johnstone Walker Accepted
John Kelly W. S. Robertson, Joseph Henri Picard Accepted
Donald Ross Alexander Taylor, J. G. Lauder Accepted
Philip Daly James Ross, E. Rayner, James McKernan Accepted
James Ross Robert Vance, W. McKay, Philip Daly, A. D. Osborne, Kenneth McLeod, John Kelly Accepted
Daniel Fraser W. S. Robertson, Charles Sanderson Accepted
George Thompson A. H. Goodwin, M. S. Connor, R. F. Shaw, T. G. Lauder, E. E. Rayner Declined



As Edmonton had yet to be incorporated at the time of election, most questions facing any municipality would have to be addressed in some form by the new council. The Edmonton Bulletin, in a February 6 editorial, listed several that it thought that candidates should be addressing:

  • the level of taxation
  • whether to incur liabilities for public purposes or to "live within our means"
  • whether to implement some system of fire protection, or whether the substantial space between most of the town's buildings was sufficient protection itself against fire
  • whether to levy taxes by a straight property tax, or whether to implement other taxes (such as dog taxes, drag taxes, boarding house taxes, poll taxes, etc.)
  • how many municipal liquor licenses to issue
  • what scheme of police protection to adopt
  • how to establish productive industries[10]

Additionally, in a February 13 editorial the Bulletin reminded the new council that the major purpose of incorporation had been to either construct a railroad bridge across the North Saskatchewan River or, in the event that Canadian Pacific Railway was not amenable to the idea, construct a traffic bridge to lead to the train station in South Edmonton.[11]



Candidate activity


The campaign was a lacklustre one; the Bulletin claimed on February 6 that only Philip Daly had even bothered to release his policies and called upon the candidates to organize a public meeting on one of the campaign's last days.[10] Several of the aldermanic candidates - Strang, Goodridge, Daly, and Fraser - made campaign speeches at the nomination meeting, but these were brief and promised only that the candidate would serve the town to the best of his ability if elected.[8] On election day itself, the Bulletin reported "light canvassing" by several of the candidates, and none at all by others.[9]



The Edmonton Bulletin, the town's only paper, did not make any specific endorsements. However, it did advise voters that

in municipal matters the only money handled comes directly sooner or later from the pockets of the individual ratepayers and therefore that a man who is liable for a large amount of taxes is more apt to be careful of expenditure than one whose taxes are not as important an item to him.[5]

The election


Voter turnout


Eligibility to vote in the election was restricted to "men, unmarried women and widows, being British subjects over 21 years of age, who have been owners or householders within the municipality for a period of not less than three months next preceding the day of voting".[6] Of these, 234 cast ballots (although five of these were spoiled) out of an estimated eligible voter base of 200.[9] Elections officials attributed this to an "unexpected population spurt".[2]

Election staff


The election was overseen by Returning Officer A. G. Randall, who was assisted by Deputy Returning Officer E. J. Bangs, Election Clerk J. C. F. Brown, Poll Clerk J. R. Michael, and Constable F. Shaw (who provided a mounted police patrol at the poll through election day).[9]



(bold indicates elected, italics indicate incumbent)


Candidate Votes %
Matthew McCauley Acclaimed



The alderman were elected through Plurality block voting with each voter being able to cast as many as six votes each.

Candidate Votes
Colin Strang 134
Daniel Fraser 128
Edward Carey 124
James Goodridge 117
John Cameron 113
Philip Daly 107
John Alexander McDougall 91
A. F. DeGagne 88
George Sanderson 88
Donald Ross 67
John Kelly 60
James Ross 55
James McDonald 37
J. Knowles 15



After McCauley's acclamation, the Bulletin commented that this event, "while, no doubt, very pleasing to gentleman, is not less satisfactory to the large majority of the ratepayers of the town" and praised the new mayor as a man of "energy and good judgment that, shown in lesser offices in the past, has won for him the public confidence."[10]

Only a few months later, Mayor McCauley would lead a mob of Edmontonians in disrupting the operation of a federal office, in the "Rat Creek Rebellion."


  1. ^ "Location and History Profile: City of Edmonton". Alberta Municipal Profiles (PDF) (Report). Alberta Municipal Affairs. October 15, 2021. p. 50. Retrieved October 19, 2021. Ordinance of the North-West Territories, Ordinance #7 1891-92, Effective Date January 9, 1892
  2. ^ a b City of Edmonton: Edmonton Elections[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Esdale Press and McDermid Engraving, Edmonton:Alberta's Capital City[permanent dead link], 1914, pp. 8
  4. ^ Esdale Press and McDermid Engraving, Edmonton:Alberta's Capital City[permanent dead link], 1914, pp. 9
  5. ^ a b "Incorporation", Edmonton Bulletin, January 30, 1892
  6. ^ a b "Municipal Election", Edmonton Bulletin, January 30, 1892
  7. ^ Masson, Jack. Alberta's Local Governments, 1994, p. 459
  8. ^ a b c "Municipal Nominations", Edmonton Bulletin, February 6, 1892
  9. ^ a b c d "Town Council Elections", Edmonton Bulletin, February 13, 1892
  10. ^ a b c "Town Council", Edmonton Bulletin, February 6, 1892
  11. ^ "The New Council", Edmonton Bulletin, February 13, 1892