James Gladstone

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The Honourable
James Gladstone
James Gladstone - combine.jpg
Senator James Gladstone sitting on his combine on the Kainai (Blood) reserve north of Cardston, Alberta (1958)
Senator for Lethbridge, Alberta
In office
January 31, 1958 – March 31, 1971
Personal details
Born (1887-05-21)May 21, 1887
Mountain Hill, Northwest Territories
Died September 4, 1971(1971-09-04) (aged 84)
Fernie, British Columbia
Political party Independent Conservative

James Gladstone (or Akay-na-muka, meaning "Many guns") (May 21, 1887 – September 4, 1971) was the first Status Indian to be appointed to the Canadian Senate.

Gladstone was a Cree by birth but was adopted by the Blood Reserve on which he was born; the Blood belonged to the Blackfoot nation. He attended St. Paul's Indian Residential School, an Anglican Mission school on his reserve, until 1903, when he moved to an "Indian Industrial School" in Calgary and apprenticed as a printer, interning at The Calgary Herald.[1]

After leaving school in 1905, Gladstone returned to his reserve where he worked as an interpreter. He also found work on ranches wrangling cattle. In 1911, he found work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a scout and interpreter and also worked as a mail carrier on his reserve.

Eventually, Gladstone established himself as a farmer and rancher and worked with his sons to assemble 400 head of cattle introducing modern farming practices to the reserve.

In 1949, Gladstone was elected president of the Indian Association of Alberta and was sent to Ottawa three times to press for improvements to the Indian Act. His acceptance by both Blackfoot and Cree assisted him in bringing the different groups together in one political organization.

He was nominated to the Senate by Progressive Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in January 1958, two years before Status Indians won the right to vote in Canada and pressed for Aboriginals to be enfranchised. He sat as an "Independent Conservative" until he retired from the Upper House in March 1971.

A biography of Senator Jim Gladstone, written by Alberta historian Hugh Dempsey, is entitled "The Gentle Persuader".

In 2017, the Bank of Canada unveiled a commemorative $10 banknote in honour of Canada's 150th birthday, featuring Gladstone's portrait alongside Sir John A Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier, and Agnes Macphail.[2]


  1. ^ Shaw, Keith (1978). Chief mountain country : a history of Cardston and district. Volume I. Cardston: Cardston and District Historical Society. p. 99. ISBN 0-919213-89-8. 
  2. ^ http://www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/banknote150/

External links[edit]

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
George Henry Ross
Senator for Alberta
Succeeded by
Bud Olson