1917 Alberta general election

The 1917 Alberta general election was the fourth general election for the Province of Alberta, Canada, held on 7 June 1917 to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

1917 Alberta general election

← 1913 7 June 1917 (1917-06-07) 1921 →

58 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
30 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  Arthur Lewis Watkins Sifton (cropped).jpg Edward michener (cropped).png
Leader Arthur Sifton Edward Michener
Party Liberal Conservative
Leader since 1910 1910
Leader's seat Vermilion Red Deer
Last election 39 seats, 49.2% 17 seats, 45.1%
Seats before 39 17
Seats won 34 19
Seat change Decrease5 Increase2
Popular vote 54,212 47,055
Percentage 48.14% 41.79%
Swing Decrease1.1% Decrease3.3%

  Third party Fourth party
William Irvine Canada (cropped).jpg
Leader None William Irvine
Party Alberta Non-Partisan League Labor Representation
Leader since n/a 1917
Leader's seat n/a ran in South Calgary
Last election pre-creation pre-creation
Seats before n/a 0
Seats won 2 1
Seat change Increase2 Increase1
Popular vote 2,700 3,576
Percentage 3 3.17%
Swing n/a Increase3.2

Premier before election

Arthur Sifton

Premier after election

Arthur Sifton

Because of World War I, politics was largely on the back burner in the minds of Albertans this election. Eleven Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) were acclaimed under Section 38 of the Election Act, which stipulated that any member of the 3rd Alberta Legislative Assembly, would be guaranteed re-election, with no contest held, if members joined for war time service.[1] Eleven MLAs were automatically re-elected through this clause. In addition, soldiers from Alberta fighting overseas elected two members-at-large.

In 1917, the main issue facing the nation was conscription. In Alberta, where support for conscription was high, the incumbent Liberal government of Arthur Sifton decided to break with federal Liberal leader Wilfrid Laurier and support Conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden's efforts to form a coalition government. The two major parties both supported conscription, but growing labour and farmer activism, and the entry of women into politics, both as voters and candidates, made the election exciting enough that 30,000 more votes were cast than in the previous election (although they were nothing like the high numbers that would be cast in the 1921 election).

The Liberals won a fourth term in office, defeating the Conservative Party of Edward Michener. Premier Sifton would then resign in October 1917 in order to serve in the federal Unionist government of Prime Minister Borden.

This is the most recent time that the Liberals won an Alberta provincial election. The 1917 election was the tightest majority ever formed in Alberta history, with the combined opposition equaling to 70.59% of the MLA's on the government benches.

This was the first election in Alberta that women (those who were British subjects or Canadian citizens more than 20 years of age who were not Treaty Indian) had the right to vote and run. Two women were elected to the opposition benches in the legislature that year. One of these, Louise McKinney, was elected as candidate for the Non-Partisan League. Her election and the election of fellow NPL member James Weir were harbingers of the rise of farmer politics that would see the election of the UFA government in 1921.

The Alberta Labor Representation League, which opposed conscription, elected one member in Calgary, Alex Ross.

The vote in the Athabasca district was conducted on 27 June 1917 due to the remoteness of the riding.

As well, two extra seats were added for this election. Two MLAs were elected to represent the soldiers and nurses serving overseas. They were non-partisan officially, although both Robert Pearson and Roberta MacAdams allied themselves to Labour and NPL MLAs by showing social consciousness in regards the conditions available for returned soldiers and working families.


Party Party Leader # of
Seats Popular Vote
1913 Elected % Change # %* % Change
Liberal Arthur Sifton 49 38/391 34 -12.8% 54,212 48.14% -1.09%
     Conservative Edward Michener 48 17 19 +11.8% 47,055 41.79% -3.31%
  Non-Partisan League None 5   2   2700 2%  
     Labor Representation William Irvine 2   1   3,576 3.17%  
Socialist Charles M. O'Brien 3 - - - 784 0.70% -1.17%
  Independent 9 - 0   4000 4% +2.08%
Sub-total 114 55/561 56 - 96,985 100%  
Soldiers' vote (Province at large) 2   2   8,000 30%
Soldiers' vote (Province at large) 19   0   17,000 70%  
Total 135 55/56 58 +3.6% 125,898  
Source: Elections Alberta
  • percentage based on vote cast in Alberta districts, excluding the overseas army vote


1 Charles Cross represented two ridings during the previous legislative assembly.

Popular vote
Labor Rep.
Popular vote
Labor Rep.

Members of the Legislative AssemblyEdit

Members electedEdit

For complete electoral history, see individual districts

4th Alberta Legislative Assembly
  District Member Party
  Acadia John McColl Liberal
  Beaver River Wilfrid Gariépy Liberal
  Bow Valley Charles Mitchell Liberal
     Centre Calgary Alex Ross Labor Representation
  North Calgary William McCartney Davidson Liberal
     South Calgary Thomas Blow Conservative
  Camrose George P. Smith Liberal
  Cardston Martin Woolf Liberal
  Claresholm Louise McKinney Non-Partisan
  Clearwater Joseph State Liberal
  Cochrane Charles Fisher Liberal
     Coronation William Wilson Conservative
  Didsbury Henry B. Atkins Liberal
     Edmonton East James Ramsey Conservative
     Edmonton West Albert Ewing Conservative
     Edmonton South Herbert Crawford Conservative
  Edson Charles Wilson Cross Liberal
     Gleichen Fred Davis Conservative
  Grouard Jean Côté Liberal
     High River George Douglas Stanley Conservative
  Innisfail Daniel Morkeberg Liberal
     Lac Ste. Anne George Barker Conservative
     Lacombe Andrew Gilmour Conservative
  Leduc Stanley Tobin Liberal
  Little Bow James McNaughton Liberal
  Macleod George Skelding Liberal
  Nanton James Weir Non-Partisan
     Okotoks George Hoadley Conservative
  Olds Duncan Marshall Liberal
  Peace River William Rae Liberal
     Pincher Creek John Kemmis Conservative
     Ponoka Charles Cunningham Conservative
     Red Deer Edward Michener Conservative
  Sedgewick Charles Stewart Liberal
  St. Albert Lucien Boudreau Liberal
  Stettler Edward Prudden Liberal
  St. Paul Prosper-Edmond Lessard Liberal
     Stony Plain Frederick Lundy Conservative
  Sturgeon John R. Boyle Liberal
  Taber Archibald J. McLean Liberal
  Vegreville Joseph S. McCallum Liberal
  Vermilion Arthur Sifton Liberal
  Warner Frank Leffingwell Liberal
  Wetaskiwin Hugh John Montgomery Liberal

Members acclaimed under Section 38Edit

Eleven Liberal and Conservative MLAs serving in the army were allowed to retain their seats without election.

  District Member Party
     Alexandra James Lowery Conservative
  Hand Hills Robert Eaton Liberal
     Lethbridge City John Smith Stewart Conservative
     Medicine Hat Nelson Spencer Conservative
  Pembina Gordon MacDonald Liberal
  Redcliff Charles Pingle Liberal
  Ribstone James Gray Turgeon Liberal
     Rocky Mountain Robert Campbell Conservative
  Victoria Francis A. Walker Liberal
     Wainwright George LeRoy Hudson Conservative
  Whitford Andrew Shandro Liberal

27 June 1917Edit

  District Member Party
  Athabasca Alexander Grant MacKay Liberal

1917 soldiers' and nurses voteEdit

Two extra seats were added for this election. Two MLAs were elected to represent the soldiers and nurses serving overseas.

Candidates and voters were members of the Canadian Forces from Alberta. The MLAs sat on the opposition benches. They were non-partisan officially, although both Robert Pearson and Roberta MacAdams allied themselves to Labour and NPL MLAs by showing social consciousness in regards the conditions available for returned soldiers and working families.

The vote was held on 18 September 1917. Each soldier and nurse had two votes.

Military Rank Member Votes %
Captain Robert Pearson 4,286 %
Lieutenant Roberta MacAdams 4,023 %
Private G.E. Harper 3,328 %
Lieutenant Colonel James Cornwall 2,331 %
Lieutenant Colonel I.F. Page 1,782 %
Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Hewgill 1,744 %
Private T.A.P. Frost 1,145 %
Major James Walker 1,109 %
Lieutenant Colonel J.W.H. McKinnery 918 %
Lieutenant Colonel P.E. Bowen 882 %
Private Herbert Stow 716 %
Lieutenant Charles Taylor 519 %
Captain W.D. Ferris 474 %
Captain A.M. Calderon 438 %
Lieutenant Colonel A.M. Jarvis 425 %
Captain Lionel Asquith 423 %
Captain D.W. Grey 374 %
Company Sergeant Major H.L. Bateson 221 %
Lieutenant Colonel A.E. Myatt 186 %
Order Room Sergeant A. Joyce 180 %
Acting Staff Sergeant C.M. Camroux 97 %
Total Votes 25,601 100%

See alsoEdit