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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Mayor of Calgary

Three months after his defeat in provincial politics, Grant MacEwan returned to civic politics. He topped the polls in his return as Calgary alderman. The results were rather perplexing for MacEwan. The same people who voted against him in the provincial election were now voting for him at a local level. Such was the world of politics.

Working hard to represent his constituents, MacEwan also spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing books. At this time he was publishing approximately one book a year, a remarkable feat for a city alderman. In the 1963 federal election, Harry Hays vacated his position as Mayor of Calgary for a seat in Ottawa as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Calgary South. During a secret meeting, Calgary aldermen nominated Grant MacEwan to replace Hays for the duration of the term.

Many described MacEwan as an unusual mayor. He seldom used the Chrysler Saratoga complete with chauffeur, choosing to use public transportation. It was not uncommon for Calgarians to witness their mayor hailing a taxi or walking through downtown on his way to his next meeting. If he had had his way, MacEwan would have avoided using the mayor's car entirely. However, his wife Phyllis insisted that certain events required the use of the befitting Chrysler Saratoga. Often, the official car would show up to his residence without MacEwan's knowledge so that he had no choice but to accept the ride.

In 1963, Mayor MacEwan opted to run for re-election. To the surprise of numerous pollsters and some of MacEwan's closest advisers, he won in a landslide. Local newspapers described MacEwan as shy and retiring and one who delivers slow, deliberate speeches.  Most importantly, Calgarians labelled him as sincer, honest, and hard-working. Fair and unbiased Mayor MacEwan worked hard to preserve the city's Western identity, a quality with which he could easily identify, with having written books on Western Canadian history. The construction of Heritage Park in the city's south end was a shining example of maintaining Calgary's distinctiveness and preserving its proud pioneer history. MacEwan opened Heritage Park on July 1, 1964.


Macdonald, R.H. Grant MacEwan: No Ordinary Man. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1979.

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