Chester Ronning

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Chester Ronning
Born Chester Alvin Ronning
(1894-12-13)December 13, 1894
Fancheng, China
Died December 31, 1984(1984-12-31) (aged 90)
Camrose, Alberta
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Alberta
Occupation diplomat and politician

Chester Alvin Ronning, CC AOE (December 13, 1894 – December 31, 1984) was a Canadian diplomat and politician.

Ronning was born in Fancheng, now Xiangzhou Hubei province China, the son of Norwegian American Lutheran missionaries, and graduated from the University of Alberta in 1916 with a B.Sc.. Ronning's family moved from China to the Peace River country of Alberta. Halvor Ronning, Chester's father was instrumental in establishing a Norwegian settlement north-west of Grande Prairie called Valhalla Centre. When Chester Ronning started his studies at the University of Alberta, he travelled by horse from Valhalla Centre to Edmonton along the Edson Trail. This was the only "road" connecting the Peace country to the provincial capital. In later years the Northern Alberta Railway (now part of Canadian National Railway) was constructed.

He returned to China to serve as a missionary from 1922 to 1927 and then returned to Alberta where he took up a position as Principal of the Camrose Lutheran College.

He was a member of the United Farmers of Alberta and on October 25, 1932 he was elected in a by-election for Camrose. From his entry into the Legislature, he was an outspoken adherent of the newly formed Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party.[1] He was defeated in the 1935 provincial election that wiped out the UFA government.

He was leader of the Alberta CCF from 1940 to 1942. The 1940 Alberta election saw no CCFers elected despite winning 11% of the vote. Ronning stepped aside as leader in favour of Elmer Roper, who won a 1942 by-election to become Alberta's first elected CCF MLA.

Ronning ran unsuccessfully for the CCF in the 1945 federal election in the riding of Camrose, losing to the Social Credit candidate, James Alexander Marshall.

Ronning served in diplomatic posts in China (1945–1951), Norway (1954–1957), India (1957–1964) and the United Nations. He also participated in the international commissions on Korea (1954) and Laos (1961–62) and undertook special missions to Hanoi (1965–66) in attempts to mediate the Vietnam War. In 1967 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1972. He was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1983.

The legacy of Chester Ronning continues today with the Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life[2] at the University of Alberta's Augustana Campus in Camrose, Alberta. The Centre exists to cultivate a deep understanding of issues at the intersection of religion, faith, and public life and to do so in both the public sphere and religious spheres. Hearkening back to Chester Ronning’s own legacy of hospitality, the mission of the Centre is to nurture a hospitable context that brings forward the finest thinking of women and men of faith in conversation with public intellectuals.


External links[edit]

  • Radford, Tom (1980). "China Mission: The Chester Ronning Story". Documentary film. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  • Chester Ronning, A Memoir of China in Revolution: From the Boxer Rebellion to the People's Republic (New York: Pantheon Books, 1974).