1st Alberta Legislature

The 1st Alberta Legislative Assembly was in session from November 9, 1905, to Monday, March 22, 1909, with the membership of the assembly determined by the results of the 1905 Alberta general election which was held on November 9, 1905. The Legislature officially began on November 9, 1905, and continued until the fourth session was prorogued on February 25, 1909, and dissolved the next day on February 26, 1909, prior to the 1909 Alberta general election.[1]

1st Alberta Legislature
Majority parliament
November 9, 1905 – March 22, 1909
Coat of arms of Alberta.svg
Parliament leaders
Alexander Cameron Rutherford
(Rutherford cabinet)
September 2, 1905 – May 26, 1910
Leader of the
Albert John Robertson
March 15, 1906 – February 25, 1909
Party caucuses
GovernmentLiberal Party
OppositionConservative Party
RecognizedLabour Party
Legislative Assembly
Speaker of the
Charles W. Fisher
March 15, 1906 – May 15, 1919
Members25 MLA seats
MonarchEdward VII
January 22, 1901 – May 6, 1910
Hon. George Hedley Vicars Bulyea
September 1, 1905 – October 20, 1915
1st Session
March 15, 1906 – May 9, 1906
2nd Session
January 24, 1907 – March 15, 1907
3rd Session
January 16, 1908 – March 5, 1908
4th Session
January 14, 1909 – February 25, 1909
Formal opening of the Legislative Assembly, March 15, 1906.

Alberta's first government was controlled by the majority Liberal Party led by Premier Alexander Rutherford. The Official Opposition was the Conservative Party led by Albert John Robertson. The Speaker was Charles W. Fisher who served in the role until his death from the 1918 flu pandemic in 1919 partway through the 4th Alberta Legislature.

History of the First LegislatureEdit

The 1st Alberta Legislative Assembly came about after Alberta entered Confederation with the Alberta Act. The assembly met for the first time in 1906 under a strong Alberta Liberal Party majority. Construction of the Alberta Legislature Building would not begin until 1907, so the assembly would meet in the newly completed McKay Avenue School for the first two sessions of the First Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 1906 and 1907.[2] Important bills passed in those sessions include confirming Edmonton as the provincial capital, the founding of the University of Alberta, establishment of provincial courts, and the provision of charters for several railway companies.[2]

Edmonton was designated as the temporary capital city for Alberta during its creation. One of the major debates that occurred in this assembly was the capital city debate. A number of alternative capital cities were chosen and voted on. In the end partly due to the strong representation around Edmonton and strong Liberal majority, Edmonton was chosen as the permanent capital city in Alberta.

Labor MLA Donald McNabb's by-election victory made him the first third party candidate elected to the legislature and helped raise the strength of the labour movement in the Lethbridge area that would have an effect in Alberta politics for quite some time to come.

Telephone policyEdit

Liberal government would make a number of large-scale forays into government operation of utilities, the most notable of which being the creation of Alberta Government Telephones.[3] In 1906, Alberta's municipalities legislation was passed and included a provision authorizing municipalities to operate telephone companies.[4] Several, including Edmonton, did so, alongside private companies.[4] The largest private company was the Bell Telephone Company, which held a monopoly over service in Calgary.[4] Such monopolies and the private firms' refusal to extend their services into sparsely-populated and unprofitable rural areas aroused demand for provincial entry into the market, which was effected in 1907.[5] The government constructed a number of lines, beginning with one between Calgary and Banff, and it also purchased Bell's lines for $675,000.[6]

Alberta's public telephone system was financed by debt, which was unusual for a government like Rutherford's, which.was generally committed to the principle of "pay as you go".[7] Rutherford's stated rationale was that the cost of such a large capital project should not.be borne by a single generation and that incurring debt to finance a corresponding asset was, in contrast to operating deficits, acceptable.[6] Though the move was popular at the time, it would prove not to be financially astute. By focusing on areas neglected by existing companies, the government was entering into the most expensive and least profitable fields of telecommunication.[4] Such.problems would not come to fruition until Rutherford had left office, however. In the short term, the government's involvement in the telephone business helped it to a sweeping victory in the 1909 election.[8] The Liberals won 37 of 41 seats in the newly-expanded legislature.[9]

Bills Report 1st Legislative Assembly
Party No. of Bills Royal Assent Withdrawn Killed
First Session
Liberal 83 76 9 0
     Conservative 0 0 0 0
Second Session
Liberal 54 49 5 0
     Conservative 0 0 0 0
Third Session
Liberal 45 43 0 2
     Conservative 2 0 1 1
Fourth Session
Liberal 54 48 3 3
     Labour 3 2 0 1
     Conservative 0 0 0 0

Labour billsEdit

Rutherford's government legislated an eight-hour day,[10] as well, Rutherford's government also passed workers' compensation legislation designed to make such compensation automatic, rather than requiring the injured worker to sue his employer.[11] Labour representatives criticized the bill for failing to impose fines on negligent employers, for limiting construction workers' eligibility under the program to injuries sustained while they were working on buildings more than 40 feet (12 m) high, and for exempting casual labourers. It also viewed the maximum payout of $1,500 as inadequate.[12] In response to these concerns, the maximum was increased to $1,800 and the minimum building height reduced to 30 feet (9.1 m).[12] In response to farmers' concerns, farm labourers were made exempt from the bill entirely.[12]

Party compositionEdit

Affiliation Elected in 1905 Standings at dissolution
Liberal 23 22
     Conservative 2 2
     Labour 1
 Total 25 25
 Government Majority 21 19

Members of the Legislative Assembly electedEdit

For complete electoral history, see individual districts[13]

  District Member Party
  Athabasca William Bredin Liberal
  Banff Charles W. Fisher Liberal
  Calgary William Cushing Liberal
  Cardston John William Woolf Liberal
  Edmonton Charles Wilson Cross Liberal
  Gleichen Charles Stuart Liberal
     High River Albert Robertson Conservative
  Innisfail John A. Simpson Liberal
  Lacombe William Puffer Liberal
  Leduc Robert Telford Liberal
  Lethbridge Leverett DeVeber Liberal
  Macleod Malcolm McKenzie Liberal
  Medicine Hat William Finlay Liberal
  Pincher Creek John Plummer Marcellus Liberal
  Ponoka John R. McLeod Liberal
  Red Deer John T. Moore Liberal
     Rosebud Cornelius Hiebert Conservative
  St. Albert Henry William McKenney Liberal
  Stony Plain John McPherson Liberal
  Strathcona Alexander Cameron Rutherford Liberal
  Sturgeon John R. Boyle Liberal
  Vermilion Matthew McCauley Liberal
  Victoria Francis A. Walker Liberal
  Wetaskiwin Anthony Rosenroll Liberal

Member changes after the electionEdit

  District Member Party Reason for By-Election
  Lethbridge William Simmons Liberal April 12, 1906 —Appointment of Mr. Leverett DeVeber to Canadian Senate
  Vermilion James Bismark Holden Liberal July 16, 1906 —Appointment of Mr. Matthew McCauley as warden of Edmonton Penitentiary
  Gleichen Ezra Riley Liberal December 7, 1906 —Appointment of Mr. Charles Stuart to Judicial Bench
     Lethbridge Donald McNabb Labour January 8, 1909 —Resignation of Mr. William Simmons to run for House of Commons


  1. ^ Perry, Sandra E.; Footz, Valerie L. (2006). Massolin, Philip A. (ed.). A Higher Duty: Speakers of the Legislative Assemblies. Edmonton, AB: Legislative Assembly of Alberta. p. 494. ISBN 0-9689217-3-6. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b "McKay Avenue School". Heritage Resources Management Information System. Government of Alberta. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  3. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 50.
  4. ^ a b c d Thomas 1959, p. 52.
  5. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 51.
  6. ^ a b Thomas 1959, p. 53.
  7. ^ Thomas 1959, pp. 52–53.
  8. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 64.
  9. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 69.
  10. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 49.
  11. ^ Thomas 1959, pp. 56–57.
  12. ^ a b c Thomas 1959, p. 57.
  13. ^ Chambers EJ (1908). The Canadian Parliamentary Guide and Work of General Reference for the Dominion of Canada. pp. 451–3. Retrieved 26 February 2018.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit