He was born in Truro, Nova Scotia, the son of Charles E. Stanfield, who established the Stanfield Mills in Truro, and Lydia Dawson. In 1896, with his brother John, he took over the operation of the business, which was incorporated as Stanfield's Limited in 1906. Its "unshrinkable" underwear, developed in 1898, became popular with gold prospectors in the Yukon. The company expanded to be one of the largest producers of woollen goods in Canada. Stanfield married Sarah Thomas in 1901. He was named Lieutenant Governor in 1930 but died in office in Halifax the following year at the age of 59.
His son Robert became premier of Nova Scotia and served as leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party. Another son Frank Thomas also served in the House of Commons.