Frank Oliver (politician)

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Frank Oliver
Frank Oliver2.jpg
Minister of the Interior
In office
April 8, 1905 – October 6, 1911
Preceded by Clifford Sifton
Succeeded by Robert Rogers
Personal details
Born Francis Robert Oliver Bowsfield
(1853-09-01)September 1, 1853
Peel County, Canada West
Died March 31, 1933(1933-03-31) (aged 79)
Ottawa, Ontario
Relatives Parents Allan Bowsfield and Hannah (Anna) Lundy

Francis "Frank" Oliver PC (born Francis Robert Oliver Bowsfield;[1] September 1, 1853 – March 31, 1933) was a Canadian federal minister, politician and journalist from old Northwest Territories, and later Alberta, Canada. As Minister of the Interior, Oliver was responsible for Canadian policy to take away lands from First Nations, and changed immigration policies to ban the immigration of blacks to Canada.

Frank Oliver was born Francis Bowsfield. Due to some disagreement in the family he dropped the name of Bowsfield and adopted the name of his grandmother, Nancy Oliver Lundy. Born in Peel County, Canada West, just west of Toronto. Oliver was the son of Allan Bowsfield and Hannah (Anna) Lundy. He studied journalism in Toronto, Ontario. In 1880, he moved west and founded the Edmonton Bulletin with his wife Harriet Dunlop (1863–1943).[2] When the first issue was printed on December 6, 1880, it became the first newspaper in what is now known as the province of Alberta,[3] and one which he owned until 1923. His other contributions to the Canadian Northwest include the creation of the territories first public school system.[3]

Oliver served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories for Edmonton from 1883 to 1896.

Oliver resigned from the legislature in 1896 to run for a seat in the House of Commons of Canada for the Liberal Party of Canada. He was elected representing the Alberta (Provisional District), and later Edmonton and Edmonton West. He served until 1921. From 1905 until 1911 he was appointed and served as the Minister of the Interior and Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs. As Minister, Oliver pushed for the recently discovered hot springs and contiguous area be reserved as public lands, thereby creating Banff National Park,[4] the first national park in Canada.

Oliver was assigned by Wilfrid Laurier to draw up the electoral boundaries used in the 1905 Alberta general election. The boundaries were said to favour the Edmonton region where the Alberta Liberal Party enjoyed the most support. He used his political weight to make certain that Edmonton, and not Calgary, would become the provincial capital.[3]

Oliver's legacy includes drafting a law forbidding blacks from immigrating to Canada and using his newspaper to successfully lobby for having the Papaschase Cree removed from their Treaty 6 Reserve territory south of Edmonton.[5] By 1911, Oliver's immigration policy called for tighter controls on immigration. Oliver was staunchly British, and his policies favoured nationality over occupation. By 1911, he was able to assert that his immigration policy was more "restrictive, exclusive and selective" than his predecessor's.[6]

Frank Oliver died in 1933 in Ottawa, Ontario.[7]



  • Brennan, Brian (2001). Alberta Originals: Stories of Albertans Who Made a Difference. Fifth House. ISBN 1-894004-76-0.


  1. ^ Berton, Pierre (10 August 2011). "The Promised Land: Settling the West 1896-1914". Doubleday Canada – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Sanderson, Kay (1999). 200 Remarkable Alberta Women. Calgary: Famous Five Foundation. p. 16.
  3. ^ a b c Brennan 2001, p. 18.
  4. ^ Brennan 2001, p. 20.
  5. ^ "History of Papaschase".
  6. ^ "Black History Canada - Timeline 1900-Present".
  7. ^ Lundy, Euphemia. Lundy 1823–1989 Weston ON 1989

External links[edit]

Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
Preceded by
New District
MLA Edmonton
Succeeded by
Herbert Charles Wilson
Preceded by
Herbert Charles Wilson
MLA Edmonton
Succeeded by
Matthew McCauley
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Donald Watson Davis
Member of Parliament for Alberta (Provisional District)
Succeeded by
John Herron
Preceded by
New district
Member of Parliament for Edmonton
Succeeded by
District abolished