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The Honourable Herbert Greenfield, 1921 - 1925

The Hon. Herbert GreenfieldFrom 1921-1925, Herbert Greenfield presided over the Province's first United Farmers of Alberta Government.  As one would expect, this government derived most of its support from rural Alberta and sought social, economic, and political reform.  It was particularly opposed to high interest rates for farm credit, protective tariffs, and party politics in government.

Herbert Greenfield was born on November 25, 1869, at Winchester, England.  He was the son of John Greenfield and Mary Leake, and he attended the Wesleyan School at Dalston, Cumberland, England, before his family emigrated to Canada in 1892.

After his family's arrival in Canada, Herbert Greenfield worked as a farm laborer in Hamilton and Middlesex Counties, Ontario.  On February 28, 1900, he married Elizabeth Harris, daughter of Samuel Harris of Strathroy, Ontario. They had two children: Franklin H. and Arnold L.  Following the death of his first wife in 1922, Herbert Greenfield married Marjorie Greenwood Cormack in 1926.  As a consequence of this marriage, he had two step-children: Frank Cormack and Mrs. James Lougheed.

Herbert GreenfieldIn 1906, Herbert Greenfield moved to the Westlock district of Alberta in order to homestead and became a successful farmer and was active in community affairs.  He served as Secretary-Treasurer of the local school board for twelve years, President of the Westlock Agricultural Society, and President of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts.

Herbert Greenfield was originally a Liberal.  However, as time passed, he became involved with the United Farmers of Alberta.  He chaired the 1920 and 1921 annual conventions and was the chief organizer of the U.F.A.'s extremely successful membership drive in 1920.  At the time of the 1921 election, he was one of the Association's Directors and following the untimely death of Percival Baker of Ponoka on election day, he became interim Vice-President.  After the electoral victory of the U.F.A. in 1921, Henry Wise Wood, who was serving as President of the U.F.A, was asked to form the new government.  However, he declined.  John E. Brownlee would not undertake the task, at this time, UFA Board of Directors, 1919 because he felt that the new Premier should be a farmer.  After further deliberations, Herbert Greenfield was finally persuaded to accept the leadership and was appointed Premier effective August 13, 1921, by Lieutenant-Governor Dr. Robert G. Brett .  Since Herbert Greenfield had not run in the 1921 general election, he had no seat.  Consequently, D.M. Kennedy, the U.F.A. Member for Peace River, resigned to accommodate him.  On December 9, 1921, Herbert Greenfield was declared elected by acclamation.  As well as serving as President of Executive Council , he was also Provincial Secretary (1921-23), Provincial Treasurer (1921-23), and Minister of Municipal Affairs (1923-25).

Although the base of their political support stemmed from rural Alberta, from the beginning, the U.F.A. Government determined that it would adopt legislation that would benefit all segments of society.  During Premier Greenfield's term, Alberta's roads, health, and educational services were improved.  As well, in 1924, his government repealed prohibition and established the Alberta Liquor Control Board.  However, in spite of considerable pressure from the U.F.A. Party, the government did not establish a government-owned bank that would issue its own currency and provide low interest loans to farmers.

As time passed, divisions developed among the supporters of the U.F.A.  Government regarding policy issues.  Stating that "it had become increasingly evident that there is not the full accord between supporters of the government and myself which is essential to the successful continuation of my administration," Herbert Greenfield resigned as Premier effective November 23, 1925.  

Premier Herbert GreenfieldIn 1927, Herbert Greenfield was appointed Agent General for Alberta in London, England.  In that capacity, he experienced considerable success attracting immigrants and English capital to Alberta.  Following the closure of the Agent General's office in 1931, he returned to Alberta and resided in Calgary.

At that point, he became involved in the petroleum industry.  Herbert Greenfield was President and Managing Director of Calmont Oil and a Director of the Home Oil Company.  He also served as President of the Oil and Gas Association which amalgamated with the Petroleum Producers' Association in 1936.  Later, he served as President of the Alberta Petroleum Association and was influential in getting Alberta oil royalties listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1940.

Herbert Greenfield also served as President of the Calgary Board of Trade and Managing Director of the British Dominions Land Settlement Corporation.  He was a member of the Renfrew and Glencoe Clubs in Calgary.

Herbert Greenfield died on August 23, 1949, at Calgary, Alberta, and was buried in the Union Cemetery in that city.  In 1968, an elementary school in Edmonton was named in his memory.

   

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Reprinted from Premiers of the Northwest Territories and Alberta 1897-1991 with the kind permission of the Legislative Assembly Office.



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