TWO NEW PROVINCES
Having provided the necessary authority, the Territorial Council laid down a procedure and appointed a committee to review applications. Under terms of the Ordinance, a candidate for the office of Mayor or Councillor had to be a British subject, over 21 years of age and able to read and write. The added necessity of owning property assessed at $300 or more, produced a flurry of controversy, just as the same question has led to debate from time to time ever since. Editorial writers were divided. A Regina editor said that if communities were to get leaders possessing the needed sense of responsibility and economy, ownership of property 'was a necessary prerequisite. Others contended that it was the man of good judgement rather than his real estate that counted.
Nicholas Flood Davin, 'writing in the Regina Leader, October 25, 1883, offered advice on the subject of candidates: "In the Councillors we want intelligence and integrity and public spirit, and freedom from itchy vanity, mangy ambition and small self seeking. All this we want in a mayor or chairman." Then, in a cynical note of warning, the editor added: "In most towns and cities the vilest and lowest wriggle into the Council and corrupt and rob. God grant such worms may be kept out of our apples."
Women, of course, did not vote and did not have the right to stand for office. Their places were in the kitchen, baking bread, wielding washboards and tending babies, rather than in politics, their male masters noted. Others making up that rare collection of individuals excluded from voting were judges, clergymen, sheriffs, jailers, Indians and men holding licences to sell liquor.
Regina people were quick to repeat the earlier request and their town was the first in the Territories to be incorporated. Moose Jaw followed soon after, also Indian Head, South Qu'Appelle, Wolseley and other communities, both rural and urban. But the result of these forward steps did not escape criticism and dissatisfaction on the part of people in rural municipalities whose officers said the regulations copied from Ontario were too expensive for the simple tastes of ox-driving western settlers. In 1896 there was the spectacle of a few municipalities seeking to break the holy or unholy bonds of incorporation. There was also an action on the part of the Tenitorial Government in 1903 to disorganize all the one-township municipalities, acknowledged to be altogether too small for efficient operation.
In what is now Alberta, Calgary was the first town to gain incorporation, having successfully met all the requirements-a requesting' petition signed by two-thirds of citizens qualified to become voters, a resident population of at least 300, an area of between half a section and four sections and, finally, the raising of the monumental sum of $100 in cash.
The Calgary experience was rather typical, beginning when James Reilly called local citizens to meet in the lamp-lit Methodist Church on January 7, 1884. For eight years after the Mounted Police Fort was raised beside the Bow, local residents were satisfied to live without civic organization and all its attendant advantages and disadvantages. Now, however, there was a demand for change. Thomas Swann was instructed to be chairman and Mr. Reilly was called to explain his reason for the meeting; there was need for a bridge across the Elbow, he said, need for a strong and concerted objection to the C.P.R. plan to locate the station so far to the West and, finally, need for a citizens' committee to work for the common interest. Citizens present resolved to elect a committee-one of those institutions defined as a device for dividing responsibility and postponing action-"to watch over the interests of the public."
At the organization meeting a few days later, January 14, 1884, the names of 24 men were put forward in nomination, a big proportion of the total number of people present. When ballots were counted, Major James Walker had the largest body of support-88 votes-and qualified to serve as chairman. The next six high ranking candidates were declared elected and told to get busy in pursuit of bridges, schools, bigger grants from the Territorial Government and incorporation of the town. Before many days, Lieutenant-Governor Dewdney happened to be in Calgary and had the misfortune to come face to face with the fresh and unyielding determination of members of the committee. Before he could escape, he had to promise an extra $200 from the Territorial treasury for construction of a bridge. Here was proof that organized pressure could be useful.
Now the community was ready for bigger things, like incorporation. A census showed total population of "about 500 but only 428 on the list." For the needed petition 285 names were recorded and the committee felt ready to issue the grand appeal for donations for the incorporating fee. Just while the financial problem appeared most difficult, the Hudson's Bay Company inconsiderately submitted a bill for $17.40 to pay for powder and flannel used in firing the noon-day cannon at the fort. There being no money in the treasury-and no treasury-the committee members, in their wisdom, decided that payment could wait for later days, meaning a time when tax tribute would be accepted as an inescapable part of civilized existence. The immediate need was for funds with which to pay for fireguards around local buildings and the fee of $100 for incorporation.
By April 15, collections for the incorporation fund reached the objective figure and the money was forwarded to Regina. But even then, government bodies moved slowly and several months passed before the off-hour firing of the Mounted Police cannon signalled the good news that Calgary had graduated to the rank of a Town.
"Now," said Chairman James 'Walker, "the time has come for a proper and constitutional election." Nomination day was set for November 26 and there were two candidates for mayor Murdoch and Redpath-and lots of candidates for the posts of councillors. The election on December 3 brought day-long excitement and night-long celebration by torchlight. Next morning, Mayor George Murdoch and Councillors S. J. Clarke, M. J. Lindsay, and J. H. Millward assembled to take oaths of office, then adjourned to meet again that evening in the rear part of Beaudoin and Clarke's Saloon. Members of the Women's Temperance Union took a dim view of the choice of meeting place but there was no alternative.
The new council needed something to guide its procedure and it was moved and carried that "this council act as a Committee of the Whole to draft bylaws for the governing of the said council." A week later, the proposed rules of procedure were presented in a bylaw, given the necessary readings and passed.
Now the Town Council was in business, able to appoint a Town Clerk, Police Officer, Fire Inspector and Pound Keeper, able to collect taxes and able, for a time, to deny the right to vote where taxes were not paid.
What happened in a score of other communities differed only a little. It was the normal evolution of local government where politics took the roughest form but where the "training school" value was high.