1952 British Columbia general election

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1952 British Columbia general election

← 1949 June 12, 1952 1953 →

48 seats of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
25 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Rev. Ernest George Hansell[1] Harold Winch
Party Social Credit Co-operative Commonwealth
Leader since 1938
Leader's seat Vancouver East
Last election 0 7
Seats won 19 18
Seat change Increase19 Increase11
First count 209,049 236,562
  Percentage 27.20% 30.78%
  Swing Increase25.99pp Decrease4.32pp
Final count 203,932 231,756
  Percentage 30.18% 34.3%

  Third party Fourth party
  Byron Johnson.jpg
Leader Byron Ingemar Johnson Herbert Anscomb
Party Liberal Progressive Conservative
Leader since 1947 1946
Leader's seat New Westminster (lost re-election) Oak Bay (lost re-election)
Last election 39[2] 39[2]
Seats won 6 4
Seat change n/a[2] n/a[2]
First count 180,289 129,439
  Percentage 23.46% 16.84%
  Swing n/a[2] n/a[2]
Final count 170,674 65,285
  Percentage 25.26% 9.66%

Premier before election

Byron Ingemar Johnson


W. A. C. Bennett[1]
Social Credit

The 1952 British Columbia general election was the 23rd general election in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. It was held to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, alongside a plebiscite on daylight saving time and liquor. The election was called on April 10, 1952, and held on June 12, 1952. The new legislature met for the first time on February 3, 1953. It was the first general election to use a preferential ballot, a short-lived phenomenon in BC. The presence of multi-member districts such as Victoria City with 3 MLAs in conjunction with the Alternative voting system called for an innovation where the district's slate of candidates was split into three "ballots," each with one candidate from each party.[3]

This system had been designed to enable the governing Liberal / Progressive Conservative coalition (the Conservatives had recently changed their name to match that of their federal cousins) to keep the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation out of power. As an added measure to lock out the CCF, the coalition devised an elimination ballot system. While they ran candidates under their own names, the Liberals and Tories believed that if Liberal voters picked a Tory on their second preference and vice versa, the two parties would gain enough votes between them to stay in power.

However, the coalition did not consider what CCF voters would do with their second preferences. Those votes flowed overwhelmingly to the British Columbia Social Credit League (BCSCL). Combined with second preference votes from the Liberals and Conservatives, this was enough to vault Social Credit to 19 seats, one more than the CCF. Meanwhile, the coalition was decimated, winning only 10 seats between them. Both Premier Byron "Boss" Johnson and Tory leader Herbert Anscomb lost their seats.

Not even the Socreds had expected to win the election. The party had no official leader, though Alberta Social Credit Member of Parliament Rev. Ernest George Hansell led the party during the election campaign without contesting a seat. The Socreds persuaded Tom Uphill, a Labour member of the Legislature (MLA), to support the party, and so the Socreds were able to form a minority government.

The party's next task was to elect a leader who would become the province's new premier. In a vote of the newly elected caucus, W.A.C. Bennett, a former Conservative MLA who joined the Socreds after losing a bid for the Tory leadership, won a caucus vote and became premier-elect on July 15, 1952. This began what would be 21 years–and 36 of the next 39 years–of Social Credit government in British Columbia.

In hopes of getting a stronger mandate, Bennett deliberately lost a confidence vote, forcing fresh elections in June 1953 at which Social Credit won a majority in its own right.


Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1949 Elected % Change First count % Change Final count %
Social Credit Ernest George Hansell 47 - 19 - 209,049 27.20% +25.99% 203,932 30.18%
  Co-operative Commonwealth Fed. Harold Winch 48 7 18 +157.1% 236,562 30.78% -4.32% 231,756 34.3%
Liberal Byron Ingemar Johnson 48 391 6 n/a1 180,289 23.46% n/a1 170,674 25.26%
  Progressive Conservative Herbert Anscomb 48 4 129,439 16.84% 65,285 9.66%
  Labour Tom Uphill 1 1 1 - 1,290 0.16% -0.05% 1,758 0.26%
Christian Democratic   8 * 0 * 7,176 0.93% * 1,318 0.2%
Labour Progressive   5 - - - 2,514 0.33% +0.09% 931 0.14%
  Independents 5 1 - -100% 1,312 0.17% -0.57% - -
  Labour Representation Committee   1 * 0 * 654 0.09% * - -
Socialist   1 * 0 * 276 0.04% * - -
Total 212 48 48 - 768,561 100% - 675,654 100%
Source: Elections BC


* Party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.

1 In the previous election, the Liberal and Conservative parties ran candidates jointly as "Coalition" candidates, electing 39 MLAs. The Conservatives withdrew from the coalition in 1951 hastening the government's collapse.

Results by riding[edit]

Results of British Columbia general election, 1952
Government Opposition
Member Riding
& party
& party
     William Ralph Talbot Chetwynd
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Stanley John Squire
     William Kenneth Kiernan
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Frank Calder
     Richard Orr Newton
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Ernest Edward Winch
     Thomas Irwin
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
William Campbell Moore     
     Lyle Wicks
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Robert Martin Strachan     
     Llewllyn Leslie King
Fort George
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Leo Thomas Nimsick     
     Philip Arthur Gaglardi
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Frank Mitchell     
     Wesley Drewett Black
BC Social Credit League
          Grand Forks-Greenwood
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Rupert Haggen     
     Lorne Shantz
North Okanagan
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Randolph Harding     
     Cyril Morley Shelford
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Anthony John Gargrave     
     Charles William Parker
Peace River
BC Social Credit League
          New Westminster
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Rae Eddie     
     Robert Edward Sommers
BC Social Credit League
          Prince Rupert
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
George Edwin Hills     
     James Allan Reid
Salmon Arm
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Vincent Segur     
     Harry Denyer Francis
BC Social Credit League
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Frank Snowsell     
     William Andrew Cecil Bennett
South Okanagan
BC Social Credit League
          Vancouver Centre
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
James Campbell Bury     
     Eric Charles Fitzgerald Martin
BC Social Credit League
          Laura Emma Marshall Jamieson     
     Bert Price
          Vancouver East
Co-operative Commonwealth Fed.
Arthur James Turner     
     Tilly Rolston
Vancouver-Point Grey
BC Social Credit League
          Harold Edward Winch     
     Irvine Finlay Corbett
BC Social Credit League
Thomas Aubert Uphill     
Progressive Conservative
Ernest Crawford Carson     
     Nanaimo and the Islands
Progressive Conservative
Larry Giovando     
     Vancouver-Point Grey
Progressive Conservative
Albert Reginald MacDougall     
     George Clark Miller     
Edward Tourtellotte Kenney     
     North Vancouver
Martin Elliott Sowden     
     Oak Bay
Philip Archibald Gibbs     
     Victoria City
Nancy Hodges     
     Daniel John Proudfoot     
     William Thomas Straith     
Source: Elections BC


  1. ^ a b Hansell was an Alberta Member of Parliament and was appointed to lead the BC party during the election but did not contest a seat, himself. Following the election, W. A. C. Bennett was elected as the leader of the Social Credit party by the newly-elected caucus and became Premier-elect on July 15, 1952.
  2. ^ a b c d e f The Liberal and Conservative parties ran as a coalition in the 1949 election.
  3. ^ "1871-1986 Electoral History of BC", p. 231-2

Further reading[edit]

  • Argyle, Ray. Turning Points: The Campaigns That Changed Canada - 2011 and Before (2011) excerpt and text search ch 11

See also[edit]