From 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
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.
In 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, 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.
In 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.