1913 Alberta general election

The 1913 Alberta general election was the third general election for the Province of Alberta, Canada. The writ was dropped on 25 March 1913 and election day was held 17 April 1913 to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Elections in two northern districts took place on 30 July 1913 to compensate for the remote location of the riding. The method to elect members was under the First Past the Post voting system with the exception of the Edmonton district which returned two members under a plurality block vote. The writ period for the general election was very short being 23 days.

1913 Alberta general election

← 1909 25 March 1913 (1913-03-25) 1917 →

56 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
29 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Arthur Lewis Watkins Sifton (cropped).jpg Edward michener (cropped).png C M O'Brien.png
Leader Arthur Sifton Edward Michener Charles M. O'Brien
Party Liberal Conservative Socialist
Leader since 1910 1910 1909
Leader's seat Vermilion Red Deer ran in Rocky Mountain (lost)
Last election 36 seats, 59.3% 2 seats, 31.7% 1 seat, 2.6%
Seats before 33 6 1
Seats won 39 17 0
Seat change Increase6 Increase11 Decrease1
Popular vote 47,748 43,737 1,814
Percentage 49.23% 45.10% 1.87%
Swing Decrease10.1 Increase13.4% Decrease0.7%

Map of 1913 Provincial electoral districts

Premier before election

Arthur Sifton

Premier after election

Arthur Sifton

Premier Arthur Sifton led the Alberta Liberal Party into his first election as leader, after taking over from Alexander Rutherford. Premier Rutherford had resigned for his government's involvement in the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Scandal but remained a sitting member. Sifton faced great criticism for calling the snap election, after ramming gerrymandered electoral boundaries through the legislature, running up the provincial debt and neglecting on promised railways. The Socialist Party carried the banner for labour- and farmer-minded voters in five constituencies; in others, Independent candidates were of distinctively leftist sentiment.

Edward Michener, the official opposition leader of the Conservative Party, ended up capitalizing on anger toward the Sifton government. He would lead the largest opposition to date in Alberta history. The Liberals would win a comfortable majority of seats despite being almost even in the popular vote. The Socialist Party vote would collapse and lose their only seat as Charles M. O'Brien went down to defeat at the hands of a Conservative.

Events leading to the electionEdit

The campaignEdit

Premier Arthur L. Sifton

The writ of election was issued after a sitting of the house on the night of 25 March 1913. The premier dropped the election writ and dissolved the house after he ensured that the governments legislation on new electoral boundaries had been given Royal Assent. The new boundaries gave the Liberals an advantage, not only were they blatantly gerrymandered to their favour, but the opposition and even private citizens had a tough time figuring out what district they were in.

Edward Michener Leader of the official opposition.

Day one of the campaign brought controversy as it was reported that Hotel organizers and Liquor establishments were being expected to donate generously to the Liberal campaign in order to get licence renewals for their establishments.

Arthur Sifton, his lieutenant Charles Cross and Liberal candidate Alexander Grant MacKay each won nominations in two electoral districts. The Calgary Herald (a Conservative newspaper) surmised that Sifton and Cross were so scared of the electorate they felt they might not win if they ran in just one district. It accused Premier Sifton of having little confidence in his ability to return his government to power.

The Liberal government in order to prevent possible vote splitting made promises of concessions to trade unions and labour organizations so that they would not publicly support leftist candidates.

The Conservative Party protested the snap election by filing a legal injunction in the Supreme Court, to prevent the election from being held on 17 April 1913. The grounds for the injunction were based on the date of nomination closure being in violation of statue. The writs were issued with nomination day being 10 April 1913. The Conservatives argued that this was 10 hours short of the 16 full days prescribed in the Elections Ordinance, and the election should be ruled invalid.[1]

Election issuesEdit

Calgary Herald cartoon satirizing Premier Arthur Sifton's promised railroads.

The big issues of the election centred on the Sifton government's lack of infrastructure building in Southern Alberta.

The ballooning Alberta debt which in a few years had gone from C$2 million to C$27 million was talked about often.

Gerrymandered boundariesEdit

Prior to the dropping of the writ the Sifton government forced a bill through the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The bill was entitled Bill 90: An Act to Amend an Act concerning members elected to the Legislative assembly of Alberta It was introduced in the assembly on 20 March 1913 and given Royal Assent on 25 March 1913.[2]

The bill increased the number of electoral districts in the province by 15. The boundaries did not contain equal population with one riding Clearwater only containing 74 people enumerated. Calgary Centre was the largest population wise with 20,000 people enumerated. The bill drawn with a line at the centre of the province gave 30 seats to the north half of the province with 26 seats in the south.

The Conservative and Socialist opposition vigorously opposed the bill, but failed to pass any amendments. The bill was jammed through third reading in the 25 March legislative sitting and given Royal Assent that evening, just shy of the writ of elections being dropped.


A ad that appeared in the Nanton News 10 April 1913 effectively highlights campaign issues, the ad was run by Conservative J.T. Cooper to attack his opponent Liberal John Glendenning

The Liberal campaign was dubbed "Siftonism" inferring that Sifton was a disease that needed to be cleaned from Alberta. The media at the time picked up on that, and roasted the Liberal party. The Conservative party attacked the Liberals on the Railway Scandal and Lack of provincial infrastructure.


The final result was the Liberal Party, under its new leader, Arthur L. Sifton, won a third term in office, defeating the Conservative Party, which was once again led by Edward Michener.

The opposition received a much higher proportion of the votes and increased its seat count to 17 from 2, while the Liberals again got more votes than the Conservatives and won many of the new seats, allowing them to hang onto a majority.

The votes were split almost evenly between the Conservatives and Liberals with a difference of 4 percent separating the two parties. In the Rocky Mountain constituency, the Socialist vote doubled but the vote for the Conservative went up even more, to make that candidate the winner, and the Socialists lost their only seat in the Assembly.

Oddly, the Assembly did not have its full complement of MLAs after the election, as C.W. Cross was elected to two seats. When this happened elsewhere, such as Laurier's election as MP in both the North-West Territories (including part of what would be Alberta) and Quebec, the double winner resigned one of the seats. But Cross held both seats until the next general election.


Party Party Leader # of
Seats Popular Vote
1909 Elected % Change # % % Change
  Liberal Arthur L. Sifton 51/541 2 36 38/391 +8.3% 47,748 49.23% -10.03%
     Conservative Edward Michener 56 2 17 +750% 43,737 45.10% +13.4%
  Independent 14 1 - -100% 3,639 3.75% +0.36%
Socialist Charles M. O'Brien 5 1 - -100% 1,814 1.87% -0.73%
  Liberal-Labor Arthur L. Sifton 23 * - * 4 4 *
  Independent Liberal 1 1 - -100% 47 0.05% -2.57%
Total 129/132 41 55/56 +36.6% 96,985 100%  
Source: Elections Alberta


  1. Charles Cross ran in and won in two ridings.
  2. Arthur Sifton and Alexander G. MacKay ran for the Liberals in two districts but only won in 1 district.
  3. Liberal-Labor candidates were a result of the Liberal Labour coalition struck by Premier Sifton prior to the election, these candidates ran in place of Liberals. See also Liberal-Labour (Canada).
  4. Liberal-Labor popular vote is included in Liberal vote.
Popular vote
Seats summary
Party name Calgary Edmonton1 North Central South Total
Liberal Seats: 0 1 11 15 11 38
Popular vote: 32.1% 40.3% 37.9% 32.5% 19.8%
Conservative Seats: 3 2 1 5 7 18
Popular vote: 50.5% 31.5% 38.3% 44.1% 55.5%
Total seats: 3 3 12 20 18 56
Parties that won no seats:
Socialist Popular vote: 5.5% 1.0% 3.1% 1.2% 2.8%
  Independent Popular vote: 0.1% 0.2% - - 0.1%
Independent Liberal Popular vote: 0.1% 0.2% - - 0.1%

Members of the Legislative Assembly electedEdit

For complete electoral history, see individual districts

3rd Alberta Legislative Assembly
District (# on map) Member Party
  Acadia (1) John McColl Liberal
  Alexandra (2) James Lowery Conservative
  Beaver River (4) Wilfrid Gariépy Liberal
  Bow Valley (5) George Lane Liberal
  Centre Calgary (6) Thomas Tweedie Conservative
  North Calgary (7) Samuel Bacon Hillocks Conservative
  South Calgary (8) Thomas Blow Conservative
  Camrose (9) George P. Smith Liberal
  Cardston (10) Martin Woolf Liberal
  Claresholm (11) William Moffat Liberal
  Clearwater (12) Henry William McKenney Liberal
  Cochrane (13) Charles W. Fisher Liberal
  Coronation (14) Frank H. Whiteside Liberal
  Didsbury (15) Joseph Stauffer Liberal
  Edmonton (16) Charles Cross Liberal
  Albert Ewing Conservative
  Edmonton South (17) Herbert Crawford Conservative
  Edson (18) Charles Cross Liberal
  Gleichen (19) John Peter McArthur Liberal
  Grouard (20) Jean Côté Liberal
  Hand Hills (21) Robert Eaton Liberal
  High River (22) George Douglas Stanley Conservative
  Innisfail (23) Fred W. Archer Conservative
  Lac Ste. Anne (24) Peter Gunn Liberal
  Lacombe (25) William Puffer Liberal
  Leduc (26) Stanley Tobin Liberal
  Lethbridge City (27) John Smith Stewart Conservative
  Little Bow (28) James McNaughton Liberal
  Macleod (29) Robert Patterson Conservative
  Medicine Hat (30) Nelson Spencer Conservative
  Nanton (31) John M. Glendenning Liberal
  Okotoks (32) George Hoadley Conservative
  Olds (33) Duncan Marshall Liberal
  Pembina (35) Gordon MacDonald Liberal
  Pincher Creek (36) John Kemmis Conservative
  Ponoka (37) William A. Campbell Liberal
  Red Deer (38) Edward Michener Conservative
  Redcliff (39) Charles Pingle Liberal
  Ribstone (40) James Gray Turgeon Liberal
  Rocky Mountain (41) Robert Campbell Conservative
  Sedgewick (42) Charles Stewart Liberal
  St. Albert (43) Lucien Boudreau Liberal
  Stettler (44) Robert L. Shaw Liberal
  St. Paul (45) Prosper-Edmond Lessard Liberal
  Stony Plain (46) Conrad Weidenhammer Conservative
  Sturgeon (47) John R. Boyle Liberal
  Taber (48) Archibald J. McLean Liberal
  Vegreville (49) Joseph S. McCallum Liberal
  Vermilion (50) Arthur Lewis Sifton Liberal
  Victoria (51) Francis Walker Liberal
  Wainwright (52) George LeRoy Hudson Conservative
  Warner (53) Frank Leffingwell Liberal
  Wetaskiwin (54) Charles H. Olin Liberal
  Whitford (55) Andrew Shandro Liberal

Charles Cross was elected in both Edson and Edmonton and represented both ridings until 1917

30 July 1913Edit

District (# on map) Member Party
  Athabasca (3) Alexander Grant MacKay Liberal
  Peace River (34) Alphaeus Patterson Conservative


  1. ^ Application by law clerk to stop election Edmonton Daily Bulletin 5 April 1913

See alsoEdit