The Athabasca electoral district was created in 1905 as part of the original twenty-five electoral districts when Alberta was formed into a province from the Northwest Territories. The district consisted mostly undeveloped wilderness covering the eastern half of northern Alberta. In 1905 the primary occupation was hunting and trapping and the local economy existed around the fur trade. The town of Athabasca which was the only major settlement in the district was experiencing a boom at that time as people flocked north to buy real estate.
The provincial Liberal party nominated candidate William Fletcher Bredin as their candidate. He was a pioneer fur trader who was well known in the district. Bredin made history by becoming the first person acclaimed to serve in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The provincial Conservative party being very weak in organization in northern Alberta was unable to find a candidate to oppose him. This was the only electoral district during this general election that sent a candidate to Edmonton by acclimation.
Question A: Do you approve additional types of outlets for the
sale of beer, wine and spirituous liquor subject to a local vote?
Rejected, Spoiled and Declined
5,774 Eligible Electors, Turnout 32.44%
On October 30, 1957 a stand-alone plebiscite was held province wide in all 50 of the then current provincial electoral districts in Alberta. The government decided to consult Alberta voters to decide on liquor sales and mixed drinking after a divisive debate in the Legislature. The plebiscite was intended to deal with the growing demand for reforming antiquated liquor control laws.
The plebiscite was conducted in two parts. Question A asked in all districts, asked the voters if the sale of liquor should be expanded in Alberta, while Question B asked in a handful of districts within the corporate limits of Calgary and Edmonton asked if men and woman were allowed to drink together in establishments.
Province wide Question A of the plebiscite passed in 33 of the 50 districts while Question B passed in all five districts. Athbasca voted by a large majority in favor of the issue. The district recorded one of the lowest turnouts. It was well below the province wide 46% average.
Official district returns were released to the public on December 31, 1957. The Social Credit government in power at the time did not considered the results binding. However the results of the vote led the government to repeal all existing liquor legislation and introduce an entirely new Liquor Act.
Municipal districts lying inside electoral districts that voted against the Plebiscite were designated Local Option Zones by the Alberta Liquor Control Board and considered effective dry zones, business owners that wanted a license had to petition for a binding municipal plebiscite in order to be granted a license.