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W. H. Cushing

Honorable W.H. CushingBorn in Kenilworth, Wellington County, Ontario, this business and political leader, philanthropist and telephone pioneer came west in 1883 and would become one of the West’s prime lumber merchants. He entered civic politics in 1890 and served as a Calgary alderman for six terms. In 1899, he was elected the 13th mayor of Calgary, and served from 1900-01. When Alberta became a province September 1905, Cushing was appointed as the Minister of Public Works in Alberta’s first Provincial Cabinet. In 1910, he resigned from Premier Alexander Rutherford’s government following the premier’s involvement in the Alberta & Great Waterways Railway conflict-of-interest scandal.

In a letter to Rutherford dated 14 February 1910, he stated: "There are several matters in which I am not in accord with you, the most prominent of these being the manner in which you have handled the railway policy of the Province, especially that part pertaining to the guaranteeing of the bonds of the Alberta & Great Waterways Railway. This transaction, put through without my knowledge or consent, is, in my judgment, such that I cannot with sincerity of heart and honesty of purpose defend before the electorate of this province, because in the agreement and specification signed by yourself you have utterly failed to protect the interests of the people."

Premier Rutherford would resign in May 1910.

An early proponent of the telephone as a communications device, Cushing played a key role in building Calgary’s and Alberta’s first telephone system, and in 1909 would be responsible for the installation of the first automatic telephone system in Alberta. Cushing played a key role in the purchase of the Alberta operations of the Bell Telephone Company, which would lead to the creation in 1908 of Alberta Government Telephones.

He also served eight years as a trustee for the Calgary Board of Education, and in 1996, the W.H. Cushing Workplace School in Calgary was named after him.

Cushing died of a heart attack at the age of 81.

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