The Honourable Ernest C. Manning has the distinction of
having served as Premier of Alberta longer than any other person. As well,
when he was appointed Premier, he was the second youngest First Minister in the
history of Commonwealth parliaments.
Ernest Charles Manning was born on September 20, 1908, at
Carnduff, Saskatchewan. As a consequence of listening to William
Aberhart's raido broadcasts, he enrolled as a student at the Calgary Prophetic
Bible Institute in 1927. He was the first graduate of that
organization. During the last year of his study program, he became a
member of the teaching staff and was later named Executive Secretary.
In 1930, Ernest C. Manning began speaking on the Calgary
Prophetic Bible Institute's radio broadcasts with William Aberhart. After
the death of Premier William Aberhart in 1943, he continued these broadcasts on
his own, and they were eventually broadcast on over ninety radio stations across
Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver, and had a large listening audience.
Ernest C. Manning was first elected to the Legislative
Assembly of Alberta at the general election of 1935. He was a member of
the Social Credit Party and represented the multi-Member electoral district of
Calgary. In September and October of the same year, he was appointed
Provincial Secretary and Minister of Trade and Industry, respectively. He
served in these capacities from 1935 to 1943.
On April 14, 1936, he married Muriel Preston, who was the
pianist at the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute. The bride was given away
by Premier William Aberhart. Ernest C. and Muriel Manning had two
children: Keith and Preston. Keith died in 1986. Preston Manning was
the leader of the Reform Party of Canada.
When World War II began, Ernest C. Manning joined the
forty-ninth Battalion of the Canadian Army Militia and qualified as a
Lieutenant. In 1943, he was promoted to the rank of Captain. He had
to discontinue his military duties when he was appointed Premier of Alberta.
Following the death of Premier William Aberhart on May 23,
1943, the Social Credit Caucus chose Ernest C. Manning to be Leader of their
party and Premier. He was appointed Premier of Alberta effective May 31,
1943, by Lieutenant-Governor John C.
Bowen . During his twenty-five year
tenure as Premier, Ernest C. Manning also held various cabinet positions.
From 1944 to 1954, he was Provincial Treasurer; from 1952 to 1962, he was
Minister of Mines and Minerals; and from 1955 to 1968, he was Attorney
General. During the years 1940 to 1968, he was reelected to the
Legislative Assembly of Alberta eight consecutive times. From 1940 to
1959, he represented the multi-Member electoral district of Edmonton, and from
1959 to 1968, he represented Strathcona East.
During Ernest C. Manning's period of service as Premier,
Alberta became Canada's major oil-producing province following the discovery of
the Leduc field in 1947 and the Redwater field in 1948. Education, health,
and highways were priorities of Premier Manning's Government. In 1947, it
legislated free hospital and medical care for seniors and, in 1965, provincial
civil servants were given the right to engage in collective bargaining.
In 1967, Ernest C. Manning's book Political
Realignment: A Challenge to Thoughtful Canadians was published. This
book is an outline of his views regarding the reorganization of the Canadian
federal party system.
Effective December 12, 1968, Ernest C. Manning resigned as
Premier, and later the same month, he resigned his seat in the Alberta
Legislature. In 1970, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada where he
served until 1983. Following his retirement from the Alberta Legislature,
Ernest C. Manning was Chairman of Manning Consultants Limited and served on the
Board of Directors of a number of major companies. He was also a Director
of the Canada West Foundation.
Ernest C. Manning's service has been recognized in many
ways. In 1957, the community of Aurora, which is located in the Peace
River district of Alberta, was renamed "Manning", and in 1972, the
City of Edmonton named a section of Highway #15, which is located between the
cities of Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan, the "Manning Freeway" in his
honour. In 1982, this freeway was extended and has since been renamed
"Manning Drive". A list of some of his other honours
follows: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Alberta (1948); Honorary
Chief ("Bull Shields") of the Blood Indians (1951); member of the
Queen's Privy Council for Canada (1967); Honorary Doctor of Laws, McGill
University (1967); Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Calgary (1967);
Comapanion of the Order of Canada (1969); Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of
Lethbridge (1972); first Member of the Order of Excellence of Alberta (1981);
National Humanitarian Award, B'nai B'rith Canada (1982); and Honorary Doctor of
Laws, Athabasca University (1987).
Ernest C. Manning died February
19, 1996, in Calgary Alberta.