AB & SK Joins Canada!

English: R. B. Bennett (1870–1947), Prim...
R. B. Bennett (1870–1947), Prime Minister of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alberta and Saskatchewan were made provinces of Canada on September 1, 1905.   As the official ceremonies took place in Edmonton on September 1 and in Regina on September 3, it should be justifiable to tell the story on September 2.

When the area was bought from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1869, Alberta and Saskatchewan were included in the Northwest Territories, and became “districts” within them later.  When they became provinces in 1905, they were greatly enlarged.  Alberta now covers more than 255,000 square miles (410,382 sq. km)  is 800 miles long (1,287 km) and averages 300 miles (482 km) in width.  Saskatchewan covers about 252,000 square miles, (410,382 square km) is 700 miles long (1,126 km) and averages 335 miles (539 sq. km) in width.

Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier made his first trip west to open the two new provinces, and attended the ceremonies at Edmonton and Regina with Governor-General Earl Grey.  Photographs of the ceremonies at Edmonton show the Governor-General and the Prime Minister on the speakers’ stand, against a background of scarlet-coated Mounties on horseback, and Indians from the Hebbema Reserve.  Thousands of  people from far and wide went to Edmonton and Regina for the great occasions.

When Alberta and Saskatchewan were made provinces they did not have the power they have today.  The Federal Government retained all public lands, mines, minerals, and resources.  The provinces did not even have complete control of education.  R. B. Bennett, who was Leader of the Opposition in Alberta, and who became Prime Minister of Canada in 1930, strongly attacked the arrangement whereby the provinces did not have control of their own resources.

One of the interesting things about the development of Alberta and Saskatchewan is that they, more than other provinces in Canada, broke away from the old political parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives.  Alberta elected a United Farmers government in 1921.  A Social Credit government elected in 1935 remained in power until 1971.  Saskatchewan elected a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Socialist) government in 1944, and it won successive elections in 1952 and 1956.  Both provinces contributed heavily to the Progressive Party which played a big part in the Federal Parliament until 1930, when the Conservatives under R. B. Bennett swept the country.

There are a few sites to visit to learn more about these events. For example there is the Library and Archives Canada, and the Saskatchewan – The Birth of a Nation (I had difficulty loading this page properly, but if you scroll down, you should see the real content).


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