George Henry Murray

George Henry Murray (June 7, 1861 – January 6, 1929) was a Nova Scotia politician who served as the province's eighth premier for 26 years and 188 days, the longest unbroken tenure for a head of government in Canadian history. He was born in Grand Narrows, Nova Scotia. He was a member of the North British Society.

George Henry Murray
George Henry Murray.jpg
8th Premier of Nova Scotia
In office
July 20, 1896 – January 24, 1923
Edward VII
George V
Lieutenant GovernorMalachy Bowes Daly
Alfred Gilpin Jones
Duncan C. Fraser
James D. McGregor
David MacKeen
MacCallum Grant
Preceded byWilliam Stevens Fielding
Succeeded byErnest Howard Armstrong
MLA for Victoria County
In office
August 15, 1896 – January 24, 1923
Preceded byJohn Lemuel Bethune
Succeeded byDaniel Alexander Cameron
Personal details
Born(1861-06-07)June 7, 1861
Grand Narrows, Nova Scotia
DiedJanuary 6, 1929(1929-01-06) (aged 67)
Montreal, Quebec
Political partyLiberal
Grace Elizabeth Moore (m. 1889)
ChildrenGeorge Belcher Murray
ResidenceNorth Sydney, Nova Scotia
Alma materBoston University
Occupationteacher, lawyer

Despite his later political longevity, Murray's early political career was marked by inability to get elected. He lost five consecutive elections at the federal and provincial level before finally winning a seat. Despite his electoral failures he was highly regarded within the Liberal Party and was nominated by Premier William Stevens Fielding to succeed him when Fielding left provincial politics in 1896 to join the federal cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Murray was sworn in as premier and took a seat in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly when he was acclaimed as a candidate in Victoria County.

As premier, Murray was a practitioner of brokerage politics. His government continued the public works projects of his predecessor, particularly in the area of railways (doubling the province's track mileage within a decade), as well as road and bridge construction. Murray's government was instrumental in improving the province's post-secondary education system, particularly in the area of agricultural and vocational education through the founding of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College at Bible Hill as well as the Nova Scotia Technical College in Halifax.

In 1906, the Liberals instituted prohibition. The Murray government also introduced workers compensation in 1916 and instituted women's suffrage in 1918.

The Murray government also introduced progressive labour legislation such as the Factories Act in 1908 and workman's compensation for injuries on the job in 1915. In the area of public health the Murray government appointed public health officers, establishing county health clinics and founded a research hospital for tuberculosis patients.

After almost three decades in power Murray retired from politics in January 1923. He twice declined the offer of knighthood and twice refused earlier offers to join the federal cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He died in Montreal.

His son George Belcher Murray later served in the provincial assembly.

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