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Senator James Lougheed   

James Lougheed, grandfather of Alberta’s former Premier, Peter Lougheed , was also a leading political figure in Canada’s history. A highly successful businessman, he was also a Senator and Cabinet Minister in Ottawa for many years. He worked hard to transform Calgary from a frontier town to a thriving city and was a strong advocate of provincehood and control of natural resources for Alberta.

Lougheed came to Calgary in 1883, before the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). He set up a law practice with future Prime Minister R.B. Bennett and became involved in various real estate ventures, and later, industrial developments. In 1884, he married Isabella Hardisty, whose father and uncle were Chief Factors of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Her uncle by marriage, Lord Strathcona, was a principal shareholder in the CPR and president of the Bank of Montreal. These connections helped James Lougheed gain influence, both as a businessman and government official.

In 1889, after the death of Isabella’s uncle, Senator Richard Hardisty, Lougheed was appointed to fill the vacant seat. He remained a Senator for thirty-six years. During his tenure, he also served as Conservative Leader of the Senate from 1906 to 1921. Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden appointed him Minister Without Portfolio in 1911, even though he was not an elected Member of Parliament. Five years later, Borden named him Minister of the Interior and Minister of Civilian Re-establishment (Veterans Affairs). Lougheed held these portfolios until Mackenzie King’s Liberal party defeated the Conservatives in the federal election of 1921.

James Lougheed died while still a Senator in 1925, having achieved greater representation for Calgary and Alberta in Parliament. However, the federal government still held control of the province’s natural resources. Then, in 1930, the Conservatives returned to power under Lougheed’s former partner, R.B. Bennett. That year, Bennett agreed to transfer this control to the province. The agreement included financial compensation for lost revenues from the lease of Alberta’s public lands. Bennett offered these favourable terms despite declining federal revenues as a result of the Great Depression. Alberta was a constitutional equal at last.

To learn more about James Lougheed, visit the Lougheed House Conservation Society 's website.




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