James Gladstone

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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, Canada
DiedSeptember 4, 1971(1971-09-04) (aged 84)
Fernie, British Columbia, Canada
Political partyIndependent Conservative

James Gladstone (Siksika: Akay-na-muka, lit. 'Many Guns'; May 21, 1887 – September 4, 1971) was a Canadian politician who became the first status Indian to be appointed to the Senate of Canada.

Early life[edit]

Gladstone was a Cree by birth but was adopted by the Blood Reserve on which he was born; the Blood belonged to the Blackfoot Confederacy. 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 Northwest 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.

Senate appointment[edit]

He was nominated to the Senate by Progressive Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in January 1958, two years before status Indians gained the vote in federal elections, and he pressed for Aboriginals to be enfranchised. He sat as an "independent Conservative".

Retirement and death[edit]

Gladstone retired from the Senate in March 1971 and died of a heart attack on September 4, 1971 in Fernie, British Columbia.[2]

Posthumous recognition[edit]

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 Canadian ten-dollar note in honour of Canada 150, featuring Gladstone's portrait alongside Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, and Agnes Macphail.[3]


  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. ^ Senator James Gladstone SICC.SK.ca
  3. ^ http://www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/banknote150/

External links[edit]

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