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The Honourable Harry Strom, 1968 - 1971

The Hon. Harold E. StromThe Honourable Harry E. Strom was the first Premier of Alberta who was born in the Province. Harry Edwin Strom was born on July 7, 1914, at Burdett, Alberta.  He was the son of Nels H. Strom and Elna O.M. Ekensteen and was a member of the Evangelical Free Church.

Harry E. Strom was educated at Ballman and Burdett Public Schools, East Calgary High School, and Calgary Technical High School.  In 1931, following the death of his father, he returned to Burdett to assist his mother in the operation of the family farm.

On October 27, 1938, he married Ruth Johnson of Bow Island.  They had six children: Howard, Faith, Beverly, Brian, Ronald, and Arlene.

The Hon. Harold StromIn addition to farming, Harry E. Strom was active in community affairs. In 1941, he was elected a Councillor for the Municipal District of Forty Mile.  He was also a member of local school boards and the Development Board.  In addition to that, he held the following positions: Director, Rural Electrification Association; President, Burdett Home and School Association; President, Burdett Agricultural Improvement Association; member of the Southern Alberta Water Conservation Association; and Director, Western Canada Reclamation Association.

As well as his numerous community activities, he took an active role in his church.  Until 1962, the family attended the Evangelical Free Church in Bow Island where he served, at various times, as a Sunday School teacher, Deacon, and Chairman of the Board.  He also held the office of Chairman of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada.  One of his deep commitments was to the Overseas Missions Board of the Evangelical Free Church of America on which he served faithfully for twenty-one years.

Harry E. Strom ran as the Social Credit candidate for the electoral district of Cypress at the provincial general election of June 29, 1955, and was elected.  He was Minister of Agriculture and, during the last six months of 1968, he served as Minister of Municipal Affairs.  As well, in 1967, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Alberta Human Resources Authority.

While he was Minister of Agriculture, the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba reached a consensus regarding proportionate shares of Alberta Eastern Slopes water resources.  This interest in water management extended to irrigation, as well.  Engineering and economic studies were initiated which resulted in a program of financial support to rehabilitate the structures of works of the irrigation districts and the establishment of cost-sharing arrangements with water users and the federal government.

When Premier Ernest C. Manning resigned as Leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party in 1967, Harry E. Strom was elected to replace him on December 6, 1968, at a Social Credit convention held in Edmonton.  Effective December 12, 1968, Harry E. Strom was appointed Premier of Alberta by Lieutenant-Governor J.W. Grant MacEwan .

During Harry E. Strom's tenure as Premier, the provincial government of Alberta took several Harry Strom, left social and environmental initiatives.  In 1979, the Alberta Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Commission and the Environment Conservation Authority were established.  In 1971, Canada's first Department of the Environment was created and a new Department of Health and Social Development was organized.

At the provincial general election of 1971, Alberta's Social Credit Government was defeated.  Harry E. Strom, who had been reelected at that election, resigned as Premier on September 10, 1971, and subsequently served as Leader of the Official Opposition in the Alberta Legislature from 1971 to 1973.  He resigned as Leader of the Social Credit Party in 1972.

In 1975, Harry E. Strom left politics and returned to farming and his work with the Evangelical Free Church.  He devoted much of his time to the Ministry of the Hope Mission in Edmonton.  He served on the Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Building Committee of that organization.

In recognition for his service to the Province of Alberta, Harry E. Strom received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Calgary (1969), the University of Lethbridge (1979), and the University of Alberta (1982).

On October 2, 1984, he died at Edmonton and was buried in the Chapel Lawn Cemetery at Medicine Hat, Alberta.



Featured Heritage Trails
Alberta Elections: 1971
Ernest Manning Resigns; Harry Strom Takes Over Rise of Age of Professionalism.
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Reprinted from Premiers of the Northwest Territories and Alberta 1897-1991 with the permission of the Legislative Assembly Office .

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