Alexander Cameron Rutherford


Alexander Cameron Rutherford

Infobox_President
name = Hon. Alexander Cameron Rutherford


caption = Hon. Alexander Cameron Rutherford
order = 1st Premier of Alberta
term_start = 1905
term_end = 1910
predecessor = Frederick Haultain
successor = Arthur Sifton
birth_date = 2 February 1857
birth_place = Osgoode Township, Ontario
death_date = death date and age |1941|06|11|1857|02|02
death_place = Edmonton, Alberta
party = Alberta Liberal Party
spouse = Mattie Birkett
religion = Baptist [ [http://www.assembly.ab.ca/lao/library/premiers/rutherfo.htm The Honourable Alexander C. Rutherford, 1905-10 ] at www.assembly.ab.ca] |

Alexander Cameron Rutherford (born: Osgoode, Ontario 2 February 1857 - died: 11 June 1941 Edmonton, Alberta), was a lawyer, politician, and the first Premier of Alberta from 1905 to 1910.

Overview

Alexander Cameron Rutherford is widely known as the "architect of the province" and "father of the university" of Alberta, as the province's first Premier. He was famous for his incredibly strong support of education and for his active participation in community affairs. As a long term visionary Alexander Cameron Rutherford was looking forward to Western Canada becoming one of the world's major centres of advanced intellectual and industrial activity in the context of a British system of government.

Alexander Cameron Rutherford was born on 2 February 1857, on a farm near Osgoode Township, Carleton County, Ontario. He was the son of James Rutherford and Elizabeth Cameron, who were members of the Baptist Church of Canada. He was educated at a local public school and the Canadian Literary Institute, located in Woodstock, Ontario. In 1881, he graduated from McGill University in Montreal, receiving both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees.

Alexander Cameron Rutherford was subsequently called to the Ontario Bar, in 1885, and practiced law for ten years in Kemptville, Ontario, as a junior partner, in the law firm of Hodgkins, Kidd, and Rutherford. In 1888 he was married to Mattie Birkett, daughter of William and Elizabeth Birkett of Ottawa. His father-in-law was a former Canadian Member of Parliament. Verify credibility|date=October 2007 Alexander Cameron Rutherford and his wife Mattie had three children: Cecil Alexander Rutherford, Hazel Elizabeth Rutherford, and Marjorie Cameron Rutherford.

In 1895, after visiting Edmonton the previous year on business, Alexander Cameron Rutherford and his family moved to Western Canada, where he established a thriving law practice in the town of Strathcona, in the community of South Edmonton, in the District of Alberta, of the Northwest Territories. After practicing law on his own for five years, he expanded by jointly establishing the firm of Rutherford and Jamieson in 1899. Notably, from 1896 to 1905, his contribution to public service included acting as the Secretary-Treasurer of the South Edmonton School Board, and from 1899 to 1906 he became the Secretary-Treasurer of, and Solicitor for, the rapidly growing Town of Strathcona.

Following his election as President of the Alberta Liberal Party in August 1905, he was subsequently appointed Premier of Alberta by Lieutenant-Governor George Bulyea, the day after the Province of Alberta was established. Alexander Cameron Rutherfords' government was ratified and sustained by a large majority at the 1905 Alberta general election, on the basis of the Provincial Liberal Convention platform, formed in Calgary, on Thursday 3 August 1905. As well as serving as Premier during the 1st Alberta Legislative Assembly, Alexander Cameron Rutherford was also Provincial Treasurer and Minister of Education.

Early life

Alexander Rutherford was born in 1857, on a farm in Carleton County, Ontario. In 1881 he graduated from McGill University with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees. In 1885 he was called to the Ontario Bar, practicing at the law firm of Hodgkins, Kidd, and Rutherford. In 1895 he moved to the District of Alberta in western Canada (then still part of the Northwest Territories), where he continued to practice law by opening up his own office at the railhead of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway, then known as South Edmonton. Alexander Rutherford was the first lawyer south of the North Saskatchewan River, an area later to become known as Strathcona (amalgamating with Edmonton in 1912). After the amalgamation, the firm opened a branch office north of the river.

Law practice

Alexander Cameron Rutherford was joined in the practice of law by Stanley Harwood McCuaig, who articled with the firm and later married Rutherford's daughter Hazel. That firm, Rutherford McCuaig, continues to operate in Edmonton as one of Alberta's oldest law firms, [http://www.mccuaig.com McCuaig Desrochers] .

Northwest Territories MLA

In 1902 Rutherford was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories for Strathcona. Rutherford supported the Government of Premier Frederick Haultain.

First Premier of Alberta

Rutherford was appointed by Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier to lead the temporary government prior to the first general election after the creation of Alberta. His Alberta Liberal Party won a large mandate and swept into power in the new province's first general election on 9 November 1905.

Legislation

The Rutherford Liberal Government proceeded with:

* establishing the laws necessary to make the transition from territorial to provincial status
* organizing and setting up the new Alberta capital
* building the new Alberta Legislature
* creating the public telephone system - Alberta Government Telephones (AGT); privatized as Telus in 1990
* expanding roads and railways up to the subarctic regions, including the Yukon and Northwest Territories
* organizing and building thousands of schools for the K-12 system
* establishing the University of Alberta as a world class British university

University of Alberta

Rutherford took particular interest in the education system and rapidly expanded Alberta's public school system. In 1906, he initiated legislation founding the University of Alberta and personally selected the site in Strathcona for the university campus. At the general election of 1909, the Rutherford Liberal Government was re-elected with another strong majority, and Alexander Cameron Rutherford continued to serve as Premier, Provincial Treasurer, and Minister of Education. In early 1910 Alexander Cameron Rutherford bought a lot near the newly established University of Alberta campus and in 1911 built his family a home, which he called "Achnacarry" (now known as Rutherford House) after his ancestral residence in Scotland.

Railway scandal

Although Rutherford's popular government promoted railway and road expansion and the creation of a public telephone system, he along with the entire governing cabinet was forced to resign as premier on 26 May 1910, over allegations of , Rutherford returned to the practice of law with the now expanded firm, Rutherford, Jamieson, and Grant.

Rutherford later joined the federal Conservatives, campaigning for them in the 1921 federal election.

Later life

Rutherford encouraged his only son, Cecil Alexander Rutherford, to serve with the British Army Artillery as a Second Lieutenant for the duration of World War I while Cecil's wife, Helen Reid Rutherford, lived with the Rutherford family at Achnacarry, now known as Rutherford House. Cecil served in the artillery with distinction, taking a shrapnel hit to the back of the head under his helmet, narrowly missing the spinal column. Cecil returned to the front lines, after a brief respite in England. During this time, Alexander Cameron Rutherford served back on the home front as the Alberta Director of the National Service Commission, and immediately after World War I served as a member of the Loan Advisory Committee of the Soldier Settlement Board.

Associations

Alexander Cameron Rutherford had many concurrent associations, including serving as:

* Senate of the University of Alberta from 1911 to 1927
* President of the Edmonton Mortgage Corporation
* Vice-President of the Great Western Garment (GWG) Factory
* A Member of the Board of Directors of the:
** Canadian National Fire Insurance Company
** Imperial Canadian Trust Company
** Monarch Life Assurance Company
** Great West Permanent Loan Company
* President of the Edmonton Branch, Historical Society of Alberta (1919-41)
* President of the McGill Alumni Association (1922)

Chancellor

In 1927, at the age of 70, Alexander Cameron Rutherford was appointed Chancellor of the University of Alberta.

Honours

Alexander Cameron Rutherford's service to his community and the Province of Alberta has been recognized in many ways:

* In 1911, a new elementary school in Edmonton was named after him - Rutherford Elementary School [ [http://rutherford.epsb.ca ] at rutherford.epsb.ca]
** Alexander Cameron Rutherford believed that a high quality education system was of paramount importance
* In 1951, the first free-standing University of Alberta library was named in his memory - Rutherford Library
** This was quite a fitting honour, as Alexander Cameron Rutherford was an avid book collector, with a large personal library in his house near the University of Alberta campus. Much of his personal collection was dedicated to Canadian works, including a white leather bound edition of Canadiana. Recently, the original Rutherford Library has been expanded in the newer, much larger, modern Rutherford Library North.
* In 1954, a mountain located in Jasper National Park was named after him - Mount Rutherford Some of Alexander Cameron Rutherford's most treasured honours:

* Honorary President, Edmonton Football Club (1895)
* Patron, Strathcona Curling Club [ [http://www.strathconacurlingclub.ca STRATHCONA CURLING CLUB ] at www.strathconacurlingclub.ca] (1902)
* Honorary President of the Strathcona Baseball Club, Curling Club, and Football Club (1903)
* Honorary Doctor of Laws, McMaster University (1907)
* Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Toronto (1907)
* Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Alberta (1908)
* King's Counsel (1913)
* Honorary Colonel of the 194th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (1916)
* Honorary Life Member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (1916)
* Honorary Doctor of Laws, McGill University (1931)
* King's Jubilee Medal (1935)
* King's Coronation Medal (1937)
* Honorary President of the Canadian Authors' Association [ [http://www.canauthors.org Serving Writers Since 1921 - Canadian Authors Association ] at www.canauthors.org] (1937)

Alexander Cameron Rutherford passed away on 11 June 1941, at the age of 84, in Edmonton, and is buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, in the Rutherford family plot.

Electoral record

As party leader

As MLA

References

* "A Gentleman of Strathcona - Alexander Cameron Rutherford", Douglas R. Babcock, 1989, The University of Calgary Press, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, ISBN 0-919813-65-8

External links

* [http://www.assembly.ab.ca/lao/library/premiers/rutherfo.htm Alberta legislative assembly biography]
* [http://www.rutherford-research.ca/rrx/corporate/alexanderCameronRutherford.php Rutherford Research biography]


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