The 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.
Upon 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.
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
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.