The Rutherfords, Part II
When Alexander Cameron Rutherford first came to the town of Strathcona in 1895, he was a young lawyer with a family to raise. According to historian Lisa Mort-Putland, he wasn't the least bit interested in a political career.
He started a little practice on the South Side on Whyte Avenue. And the people of Strathcona found him to be such an amiable man, that they actually asked him to be their representative in the Northwest Territorial Legislature.
And said no, he had no interest in politics other than as a spectator.
But the people of Strathcona would not take no for an answer.
By the late 1890s, it became evident that if he wanted a peaceful life, he'd better run for the local position in the legislature. He was elected in 1902.
In 1903, he was appointed as the deputy Speaker of the Northwest Territorial Legislature. And, in August of 1905, he was appointed as the head of the Liberal party, and, on September the 1st, Alberta became a province, and he our first Premier.
So, within three very short years, he went from novice to Premier, and that was something that was quite frightening and exciting and wonderful all at the same time.
By this time, Mrs. Rutherford was quite involved in the community affairs of Strathcona and Edmonton. There was the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire and other social groups. But her heart was not in her husband's politics.
We know that they were very different from one another. Their daughter Hazel Rutherford McCuaig described Mrs. Rutherford as a typical Edwardian lady: that she did what was expected of her, and she did it beautifully, but in private she was very shy.
He was certainly the outgoing, adventurous type, and she really preferred to be at home, quiet and working on some knitting or sewing. And so it wasn't her idea to enter politics, although she did a beautiful job of supporting him publicly.
The Rutherfords well soon realized their house in Strathcona was too small for all the entertaining expected of a Premier and his wife.
And Alexander turned his attention to building a house more suited to the stately duties of the head of government.
On the Heritage Trail,
I'm Cheryl Croucher.