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