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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Feature Article

EDWARD MICHENER

Written By: Michael Dawe
Published By: Red Deer Express
Article Used with permission. © Copyright Michael Dawe, 2003
2003-03-02

One of Red Deer’s most influential early residents and community builders is, today, mostly remembered through his son. Although Edward Michener was at one time Red Deer’s leading real estate developer, partner in several major businesses, mayor of the Town, Red Deer’s M.L.A., leader of the Opposition in the Alberta Legislature, and later, the only person from this City to be named to the Canadian Senate, he is generally now remembered as former Governor General Roland Michener’s father.

Edward Michener was born in Tintern, Lincoln County, Ontario. Educated in St. Catharines and then Victoria University, Toronto, he became a school teacher. However, after five years, he decided to train for the ministry. His first church was in Banff. He was later stationed in Lacombe. While there, he and his wife Mary had their first son Roland.

Unfortunately, Edward’s health broke. He briefly tried farming east of Red Deer, but moved into the town in 1901. He began a real estate and mortgage business, in partnership with Stan Carscallen. While the firm also took on fire and life insurance as one of its activities, land development soon became its most lucrative enterprise.

The timing was ideal. Red Deer leapt from a tiny community of 320 when the Micheners arrived, to a town of 1700 five years later and well over 2200 by the end of the first decade. Michener-Carscallen developed such subdivisions as Parkvale, Highland Park, and Grandview. Edward Michener also became a partner in a number of construction related companies. He was soon one of the wealthiest men in Red Deer.

In 1904, Edward Michener was elected mayor of Red Deer and was re-elected to two more terms. He also served as a member of the hospital board. In 1907-1908, he served as president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

In 1906, as part of a bid to make Red Deer the capital city of the new province of Alberta, Edward Michener offered ten acres of the brow of the East Hill as the site for the Provincial Legislature. The bid did not succeed. The Michener family, however, moved to a new home on the hill shortly thereafter. The subdivision, Highland Park, has become known as Michener Hill ever since.

In 1909, Michener was elected M.L.A. for Red Deer. Because of the popularity of the Liberal government, he initially served as an Independent Conservative. He later became the leader of the Alberta Conservative Party. Michener was relected in 1913 and 1917 in very close elections, by margins of less than 100 votes.

In 1918, the Conservative Federal Government appointed Edward Michener to the Senate. The family moved to Calgary and for a time lived in California, with a summer residence at Sylvan Lake. They later moved to Ottawa.

Edward Michener passed away in June 1947. He was eulogized as a man whose "name was a guarantee for law, order and decency". He was also described as "an outstanding leader of public opinion in Alberta who followed as a guiding star what was in the best interests of Canada as a whole".

Edward Michener was survived by his wife Mary, four sons and four daughters. His son Roland became Governor General of Canada in 1967.

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