Alberta general election, 1917

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Alberta general election, 1917

← 1913 7 July 1917 (1917-07-07) 1921 →

58 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
30 seats were needed for a majority

  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Arthur Sifton.jpg Edward michener.png
Leader Arthur Sifton Edward Michener William Irvine
Party Liberal Conservative Labor Representation
Leader since 1910 1910 1917
Leader's seat Vermilion Red Deer ran in South Calgary
Last election 39 seats, 49.2% 17 seats, 45.1% pre-creation
Seats before 39 17 0
Seats won 34 19 1
Seat change Decrease5 Increase2 Increase1
Popular vote 54,212 47,055 3,576
Percentage 48.1% 41.8% 3.2%
Swing Decrease1.1% Decrease3.3% Increase3.2

Premier before election

Arthur Sifton


Arthur Sifton

The Alberta general election of 1917 was the fourth general election for the Province of Alberta, Canada, held on 7 June 1917 to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

Because of World War I, politics was largely on the back burner in the minds of Albertans this election. Eleven Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) were acclaimed under Section 38 of the Election Act, which stipulated that any member of the 3rd Alberta Legislative Assembly, would be guaranteed re-election, with no contest held, if members joined for war time service. Eleven MLAs were automatically re-elected through this clause. In addition, soldiers from Alberta fighting overseas elected two members-at-large.

In 1917, the main issue facing the nation was conscription. In Alberta, where support for conscription was high, the incumbent Liberal government of Arthur Sifton decided to break with federal Liberal leader Wilfrid Laurier and support Conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden's efforts to form a coalition government. The two major parties both supported conscription, but growing labour and farmer activism, and the entry of women into politics, both as voters and candidates, made the election exciting enough that 30,000 more votes were cast than in the previous election (although they were nothing like the high numbers that would be cast in the 1921 election).

The Liberals won a fourth term in office, defeating the Conservative Party of Edward Michener. Premier Sifton would then resign in October 1917 in order to serve in the federal Unionist government of Prime Minister Borden.

This is the most recent time that the Liberals won an Alberta provincial election. The 1917 election was the tightest majority ever formed in Alberta history, with the combined opposition equaling to 70.59% of the MLA's on the government benches.

This was the first election in Alberta that women (those who were British subjects or Canadian citizens more than 20 years of age who were not Treaty Indian) had the right to vote and run. Two women were elected to the opposition benches in the legislature that year. One of these, Louise McKinney, was elected as candidate for the Non-Partisan League. Her election and the election of fellow NPL-er James Weir were harbingers of the rise of Farmer politics that would see the election of the UFA government in 1921.

The Alberta Labor Representation League, which opposed conscription, elected one member in Calgary.

The vote in the Athabasca district was conducted on 27 June 1917 due to the remoteness of the riding.


Party Party Leader # of
Seats Popular Vote
1913 Elected % Change # % % Change
Liberal Arthur Sifton 49 38/391 34 -12.8% 54,212 48.14% -1.09%
     Conservative Edward Michener 48 17 19 +11.8% 47,055 41.79% -3.31%
  Independent 11 - 2   6,569 5.83% +2.08%
     Labor Representation William Irvine 2   1   3,576 3.17%  
Socialist Charles M. O'Brien 3 - - - 784 0.70% -1.17%
  Non-Partisan League 1   -   416 0.37%  
Sub-total 114 55/561 56 - 96,985 100%  
Soldiers' vote (Province at large) 21   2   25,601 21.00%  
Total 135 55/56 58 +3.6% 125,898 100%  
Source: Elections Alberta

Note: 1 Charles Cross represented two ridings during the previous legislative assembly.

Members of the Legislative Assembly[edit]

Members elected[edit]

For complete electoral history, see individual districts

4th Alberta Legislative Assembly
  District Member Party
  Acadia John McColl Liberal
  Beaver River Wilfrid Gariépy Liberal
  Bow Valley Charles Mitchell Liberal
     Centre Calgary Alex Ross Labor Representation
  North Calgary William McCartney Davidson Liberal
     South Calgary Thomas Blow Conservative
  Camrose George P. Smith Liberal
  Cardston Martin Woolf Liberal
  Claresholm Louise McKinney Independent
  Clearwater Joseph State Liberal
  Cochrane Charles Fisher Liberal
     Coronation William Wilson Conservative
  Didsbury Henry B. Atkins Liberal
     Edmonton East James Ramsey Conservative
     Edmonton West Albert Ewing Conservative
     Edmonton South Herbert Crawford Conservative
  Edson Charles Wilson Cross Liberal
     Gleichen Fred Davis Conservative
  Grouard Jean Côté Liberal
     High River George Douglas Stanley Conservative
  Innisfail Daniel Morkeberg Liberal
     Lac Ste. Anne George Barker Conservative
     Lacombe Andrew Gilmour Conservative
  Leduc Stanley Tobin Liberal
  Little Bow James McNaughton Liberal
  Macleod George Skelding Liberal
  Nanton James Weir Independent
     Okotoks George Hoadley Conservative
  Olds Duncan Marshall Liberal
  Peace River William Rae Liberal
     Pincher Creek John Kemmis Conservative
     Ponoka Charles Cunningham Conservative
     Red Deer Edward Michener Conservative
  Sedgewick Charles Stewart Liberal
  St. Albert Lucien Boudreau Liberal
  Stettler Edward Prudden Liberal
  St. Paul Prosper-Edmond Lessard Liberal
     Stony Plain Frederick Lundy Conservative
  Sturgeon John R. Boyle Liberal
  Taber Archibald J. McLean Liberal
  Vegreville Joseph S. McCallum Liberal
  Vermilion Arthur Sifton Liberal
  Warner Frank Leffingwell Liberal
  Wetaskiwin Hugh John Montgomery Liberal

Members acclaimed under Section 38[edit]

  District Member Party
     Alexandra James Lowery Conservative
  Hand Hills Robert Eaton Liberal
     Lethbridge City John Smith Stewart Conservative
     Medicine Hat Nelson Spencer Conservative
  Pembina Gordon MacDonald Liberal
  Redcliff Charles Pingle Liberal
  Ribstone James Gray Turgeon Liberal
     Rocky Mountain Robert Campbell Conservative
  Victoria Francis A. Walker Liberal
     Wainwright George LeRoy Hudson Conservative
  Whitford Andrew Shandro Liberal

27 June 1917[edit]

  District Member Party
  Athabasca Alexander Grant MacKay Liberal

1917 soldiers' and nurses vote[edit]

All eligible candidates were members of the Canadian Forces from Alberta, and non-partisan. Members elected sat on the opposition benches. The vote was held on 18 September 1917. Each soldier had two votes.

Military Rank Member Votes %
Captain Robert Pearson 4,286 %
Lieutenant Roberta MacAdams 4,023 %
Private G.E. Harper 3,328 %
Lieutenant Colonel James Cornwall 2,331 %
Lieutenant Colonel I.F. Page 1,782 %
Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Hewgill 1,744 %
Private T.A.P. Frost 1,145 %
Major James Walker 1,109 %
Lieutenant Colonel J.W.H. McKinnery 918 %
Lieutenant Colonel P.E. Bowen 882 %
Private Herbert Stow 716 %
Lieutenant Charles Taylor 519 %
Captain W.D. Ferris 474 %
Captain A.M. Calderon 438 %
Lieutenant Colonel A.M. Jarvis 425 %
Captain Lionel Asquith 423 %
Captain D.W. Grey 374 %
Company Sergeant Major H.L. Bateson 221 %
Lieutenant Colonel A.E. Myatt 186 %
Order Room Sergeant A. Joyce 180 %
Acting Staff Sergeant C.M. Camroux 97 %
Total Votes 25,601 100%

See also[edit]