William Melville Martin

William Melville Martin (August 23, 1876 – June 22, 1970) served as the second Premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan from 1916 to 1922.

William Melville Martin
William Melville Martin 2.png
2nd Premier of Saskatchewan
In office
October 20, 1916 – April 5, 1922
MonarchGeorge V
Lieutenant GovernorRichard Stuart Lake
Henry William Newlands
Preceded byThomas Walter Scott
Succeeded byCharles Avery Dunning
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan for Regina City
In office
November 13, 1916 – April 22, 1922
Preceded byJames Franklin Bole
Succeeded byJames Albert Cross
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Regina
In office
October 26, 1908 – November 13, 1916
Preceded byDistrict was created in 1907
Succeeded byWalter Davy Cowan
Personal details
Born(1876-08-23)August 23, 1876
Norwich, Ontario, Canada
DiedJune 22, 1970(1970-06-22) (aged 93)
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Political partyLiberal Party of Canada
Other political
Saskatchewan Liberal Party
Spouse(s)Violette Florence Thomason

Martin was elected to the House of Commons for Regina in the 1908 Canadian federal election, and re-elected in 1911. In 1916, he entered provincial politics to take over the leadership of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party and become Premier. Martin, an outsider to provincial politics, was chosen by the Liberals in order to help distance them from allegations of corruption. Martin brought farmers' advocate Charles A. Dunning into the cabinet in an attempt to revitalise the Liberals, and instituted reforms to clean up the government. These changes were successful in cleansing the government's image, and Martin led the government to re-election in the 1917 election, winning 51 of 59 seats.

The United Farmers and Progressive movements were riding a national wave of agrarian discontent which undercut the Liberals across Canada, and threatened to engulf the Saskatchewan Liberals as well. Martin successfully attempted to embrace the populist movement by, in 1920, severing ties with the federal Liberal Party of Canada[1] bringing in Dunning and also by recruiting another farm leader, federal Progressive MP John Archibald Maharg, into the government. The Liberals were able to resist the Progressive challenge in the 1921 election, which returned 46 Liberals to 6 Progressives, 7 Independents, 1 Labour MLA and 3 Conservatives.

A political crisis developed, however, when Premier Martin campaigned for the federal Liberal Party of Canada against the populist Progressives. Martin declared his opposition to a number of Progressive policies during the campaign leading Maharg, a Progressive supporter, to resign from Cabinet.[2] The split in the Martin Cabinet led to the Premier's resignation and his replacement by Charles Dunning.

Martin retired from politics in 1922 and became a judge of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. From 1941 until 1961, Martin was Chief Justice of Saskatchewan (presiding over the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal).


  1. ^ Coneghan, Damian Progressive Party, Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, accessed February 12, 2008
  2. ^ Martin, William Melville (1876–1970), Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, accessed February 12, 2008

External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by
William Ferdinand Alphonse Turgeon
Chief Justice of Saskatchewan
Succeeded by
Emmett Matthew Hall