Charles Stewart was a pioneer
farmer from the Killam district of Alberta who rose to prominence in provincial
and federal politics. He was Alberta's first Minister of Municipal
Charles Stewart was born on August
26, 1868, at Strabane, Wentworth County, Ontario. He was the son of
Charles Stewart, Senior, and Catherine Finlay. Charles Stewart was
educated at Strabane and, from the time of his marriage, was a member of the
Church of England (Anglican).
On December 17, 1891, he married
Jane Russell Sneath, daughter of George Sneath and Christiana Munro of Midhurst,
Ontario. They had eight children: George Sneath, Catherine Isabel, Charles
Herbert, Christiana Munro Sneath, Robina Jane Millicent, Frederick John,
Roseanna Alice, and Henry Alexander Russell.
In 1884, the Stewart family moved
from their farm near Strabane to a farm near Barrie, Ontario. Following
the death of his father in 1892, Charles Stewart was responsible for the family
farm. Following a disastrous storm in 1904, he decided to move west.
In 1905, he began homesteading near Killam, Alberta, supplementing his income by
working as a stonemason and bricklayer. After a hailstorm destroyed his
crop in 1906 and a strike prevented him from working in construction, he went
into the real estate and the farm implement business to help fund his farm.
In 1909, Charles Stewart accepted
the Liberal nomination for the electoral district of Sedgewick and was elected
by acclamation. He was reelected in 1913, again by acclamation, and in
1917. From 1912 to 1913, he served as Minister of Municipal Affairs, a new
department that he organized. And from 1913 to 1917, he served as Minister
of Public Works.
When Premier Sifton resigned to
join the federal government, Charles Stewart was appointed Premier by
Lieutenant-Governor Dr. Robert G. Brett effective October 30, 1917. As well
as serving as President of Executive
Council , Charles Stewart was also appointed
Minister of Railways and Telephones and served in that capacity from 1917 to
1921. In June of 1918, Charles Stewart and the Premiers of Saskatchewan
and Manitoba were received by King George V at Buckingham Palace when they were
on their way to France to visit Canadian troops. In 1919, he officiated
when the Prince of Wales laid the cornerstone for a Veterans' Memorial Hall in
Edmonton. At the general election of 1921, although he himself was
reelected by acclamation, his government was defeated by the United Farmers of
Alberta. He resigned from the Office of Premier effective August 13, 1921.
Following the federal election of
1921, Charles Stewart was invited to join the federal government and was
appointed Minister of the Interior and Mines (1921-26), General Superintendent
of Indian Affairs (1921-26), and Acting Minister of Immigration and Colonization
(1921-23). In 1921, he was also appointed to the Canadian Privy Council.
As there were no federal Liberal seats in Alberta, at a by-election in 1922, he
was elected as the Member of Parliament for the electoral district of
Argenteuil, Quebec. In 1926, the federal Liberal Government was defeated.
At the general election later the same year, Charles Stewart was reelected, this
time as the Member for Edmonton West. As the Liberals had been returned to
office, he was reappointed Minister of the Interior and continued in this role
until the general election of 1930. It was during his second term as
Minster of the Interior that the jurisdiction over Alberta's natural resources
was transferred from the federal to the provincial government in 1930.
In 1927, Charles Stewart was
appointed to represent Canada at the League of Nations in Geneva and, in 1930,
he was reelected as the Member for Edmonton West. However, at the general
election of 1935, he was defeated when he ran as the Liberal candidate for
In 1936, Charles Stewart was
appointed Chairman of the Canadian Section of the International Joint Commission
that studied U.S. boundary waterways and, in 1938, he was named Chairman of the
Canadian Section of the British Columbia-Yukon-Alaska Highway Commission.
Charles Stewart was active in
church, community, and municipal organizations. A list of some of his
activities and associations follows: he was Superintendent of the Sunday school
for the Church of England at Midhurst, Ontario; he served on the Financial Board
of Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa; he was a member of the Rideau Curling Club
in Ottawa; and he was a Charter Member of the Chaudiere Golf Club in Ottawa.
In 1925, Charles Stewart received
a Diploma of Merit and Medal of Honor (Bene Merenti) from the Directing
Committee of the Vatican Missionary Exposition for his support of the Oblate
missionaries in their work with Native people. In 1930, he was presented
with the Randolph Bruce Gold Medal in Science by the Canadian Institute of
Mining and Metallurgy at their annual meeting for his support of Canadian
Charles Stewart died on December
6, 1946, at Ottawa, Ontario, and was buried in the Beechwood Cemetery at Vanier,