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The Honourable Colonel Philip C.H. Primrose, 1936-37

The Hon. Philip C.H. PrimroseThe Honourable Colonel Philip C.H. Primrose was known for his long and distinguished career with the North-West Mounted Police, now known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He was the first Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta to die in office and his was the first state funeral in the history of the Province.

Philip Carteret Hill Primrose was born on October 23, 1864, at Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was the son of Alexander Primrose and Elizabeth Daly and a distant cousin of the Earl of Roseberry, whose family name is Primrose. His father was a Halifax barrister and upon his father's death, Philip and his mother moved to Pictou, Nova Scotia. Philip C.H. Primrose attended the Pictou Academy and graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada at Kingston, Ontario.

On January 8, 1902, he married Lily Deane, daughter of Superintendent Richard Burton Deane, an officer of the North-West Mounted Police. They had three children: Phyllis, Neil, and Sybil. Neil Primrose eventually became a Judge of the Trial Division, Supreme Court of Alberta.

Philip C.H. PrimroseUpon graduation from the Royal Military College of Canada, Philip C.H. Primrose was appointed an Inspector in the North-West Mounted Police on August 1, 1885. He was first stationed at Regina but was soon transferred to Fort Saskatchewan. He also served at Wood Mountain, Calgary, and Macleod. On October 14, 1899, he was promoted to the rank of Superintendent. In that year, he was sent to the Klondike where he spent more than four years during the great Yukon gold rush. During that time, he met a young lawyer named William L. Walsh who was to become his predecessor as Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta.

Philip C.H. Primrose then returned to Macleod and remained there as Commanding Officer until 1913, when he proceeded to Royal North-West Mounted Police Headquarters to organize the Criminal Investigation Branch. 

He resigned from the force on April 15, 1915, and subsequently served as Police Magistrate for the City of Edmonton from 1915 to 1935. Some 40,000 cases were tried before him.

During World War I, Philip C.H. Primrose was Commanding Officer of the Edmonton Reserve Battalion, Canadian Army.

On the advice of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Philip C.H.Primrose was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta effective October 1, 1936. This appointment was made by Lord Tweedsmuir, Governor General of Canada.

Philip C.H. Primrose was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, was Past-President of the North-West Mounted Police Veterans' Association, and in 1927, was made a Life Member of the Army and Navy Veterans' Association, Edmonton. Although a Liberal by persuasion, he never participated actively in politics.

Philip C.H. Primrose died on March 17, 1937, at Edmonton, Alberta, having served as Alberta's Lieutenant-Governor only six months. He was buried in the Edmonton Cemetery. A district in the city of Edmonton is named in his memory.



Reprinted from the Lieutenant Governors of the North-West Territories and Alberta, 1876-1993 with the kind permission of the Legislative Assembly Office.

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