|John Farquhar Lymburn|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta|
June 28, 1926 – August 22, 1935
Serving with David Duggan (1926–1935)
Charles Gibbs (1926–1935)
William Atkinson (1930–1935)
William R. Howson (1930–1935)
Frederick C. Jamieson (1931–1935)
Charles Weaver (1926–1930)
Warren Prevey (1926–1930)
|Preceded by||John Bowen, Jeremiah Heffernan, William Henry, Nellie McClung, Andrew McLennan|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Barnes, David Duggan, William R. Howson, David Mullen, Charles Gerald O'Connor, George Van Allen|
|Attorney-General of Alberta|
June 5, 1926 – September 3, 1935
|Preceded by||John Edward Brownlee|
|Succeeded by||John Hugill|
|Born||September 25, 1880
|Died||November 25, 1969 (aged 89)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
|Political party||United Farmers of Alberta|
|Spouse(s)||Isabella Marguerite Clark|
|Children||Marguerite Dormer, Mary Doreen Farquhar, and Constance Clark|
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow|
John Farquhar Lymburn (September 25, 1880 – November 25, 1969) was a Canadian politician who served as Attorney-General of Alberta from 1926 until 1935.
Born and educated in Scotland, he came to Canada in 1911 and practiced law in Edmonton. In 1925, John Edward Brownlee became Premier of Alberta, and sought a lawyer without partisan affiliation to succeed him as attorney-general. Lymburn accepted the position, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in the 1926 election.
As attorney-general, Lymburn took part in negotiations between the Alberta and federal governments over natural resource rights, prepared Alberta's submission in the Persons case, and played a minor role in the sex scandal that forced Brownlee from office.
In the 1935 provincial election, Lymburn and all other United Farmers of Alberta candidates were defeated, as William Aberhart led the Social Credit League to victory. Lymburn briefly returned to prominence during the Bankers' Toadies incident, and made an strong but unsuccessful attempt to return to the legislature in 1942, before dying in 1969.
Lymburn was born in Ayr, Scotland to William and Margaret (Farquhar) Lymburn. He attended Ayr Grammar School and Ayr Academy before studying law at Glasgow University. After graduating, he apprenticed with Dougall, Gouldie, and Douglas; he qualified as a solicitor in 1903. In 1911 he emigrated to Canada, settling in Edmonton where he joined Short, Cross, and Biggar. Two years later, he co-founded Lymburn, Mackenzie, and Cooke (later renamed Lymburn, Reid, and Cobbledick). In the interim, he had married fellow Scot Isabella Marguerite Clark on July 19, 1912. The couple would have three daughters: Marguerite Dormer, Mary Doreen Farquhar, and Constance Clark. John Lymburn was made King's Counsel in 1926.
In 1925, attorney-general John Edward Brownlee succeeded Herbert Greenfield as the leader of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA)'s provincial caucus and Premier of Alberta. Brownlee was the only lawyer in the UFA caucus, which was dominated by farmers. In appointing an attorney-general to replace himself, he looked outside his caucus and appointed Lymburn, in part because of his lack of affiliation with any provincial political party. By convention, cabinet ministers, including attorneys-general, were expected to sit in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Accordingly, Lymburn ran in the 1926 provincial election in Edmonton as a UFA candidate. He finished first of eighteen candidates in Edmonton, and became one of Edmonton's five Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
As attorney-general, Lymburn was involved in many of the Brownlee government's most important initiatives. He was a major figure in securing the transfer of resource rights from the federal government to the Alberta government. Once the Great Depression proved fertile breeding ground for labour militancy, at Brownlee's request he prepared a list of Communist leaders so that the government could take action to deport the non-naturalized residents among them, (although no deportations were ordered). Alberta was the only provincial government to support the appellants in the "Persons case", and Lymburn was responsible for its submission.
He was also involved in scandal: the former head of the Liquor Investigation Bureau made allegations against him after Lymburn eliminated the Bureau to save money, though the charges had little effect either in the legal system or in the public eye. During the John Brownlee sex scandal, in which Brownlee was sued for the seduction of a family friend, Lymburn became the focus of controversy after his department hired a private investigator to look into claims that a Liberal lawyer had offered a young woman money to "put Mr. Brownlee in such a position that Mrs. Brownlee could get a divorce". Taking the stand during the trial, Lymburn stated that the investigation had been initiated not to aid in the premier's defense, but because the alleged solicitation was a criminal offense. He noted further that Brownlee had insisted on refunding to the government the cost of the investigator.
When the scandal forced Brownlee's resignation as premier, Lymburn stayed on as attorney-general in the short-lived government of Richard Gavin Reid. The popularity of the Reid government faltered during the Great Depression due to its inability to take radical action to ensure employment and a reasonable standard of living for all Alberta residents, while radical economic theories, most notably the version of social credit espoused by Calgary evangelist William Aberhart, gained support among the public. The government's position was that Aberhart's proposals were beyond the legal authority of the provincial government, since they involved banking, which the Constitution of Canada makes a responsibility of the federal government. As attorney-general, Lymburn played a major role in defending this position. When Lymburn's UFA government brought Social Credit leader C. H. Douglas from the United Kingdom as an advisor, Lymburn provided him with a copy of one of Aberhart's speeches and asked him to critique it; Douglas concluded that Aberhart's proposals did not align with "Douglasite" social credit, and that many of them would not have the desired effect.
In the 1935 provincial election, the UFA was wiped out of the legislature by Aberhart's upstart Social Credit League. As historian Franklin Foster has noted, "it was an ironic footnote to the demise of the most politically successful farmers' group in history that the one UFA candidate who came closest to re-election was lawyer John Lymburn in the City of Edmonton."
After defeat, Lymburn remained active in community life as an elder in Edmonton's First Presbyterian Church, chairman of the Advisory Board of the Students' Christian Movement, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Beulah Home for unmarried mothers, and president of the Edmonton Scottish Society. He was also a long-standing member of the Mayfair Golf and Country Club. He was an aficionado of the work of fellow Ayrshire native Robbie Burns, whose poetry he could recite in Gaelic, and often spoke at Burns suppers.
Lymburn briefly re-entered the public eye in 1937, when he was named in a Social Credit-produced pamphlet as one of eight "Bankers' Toadies" who should be "exterminated"; Social Credit whip Joseph Unwin was convicted of criminal libel in relation to the pamphlet.
In 1942, Lymburn contested a by-election in Edmonton; In the initial vote count, he finished third of five candidates. After subsequent re-distribution of the votes as per the STV system in use, he came in second in the final vote count, with Elmer Roper of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation emerging victorious.
Marguerite Lymburn died in 1958. John Lymburn died eleven years later, on November 25, 1969.
|Alberta general election, 1926: Edmonton|
|United Farmers||John Lymburn||3,046||16.27%||3,026||21.19%|
|Independent Liberal||Joseph Clarke||1,179||6.30%|
|Liberal||John C. Bowen||1,147||6.13%|
|Conservative||F. J. Follinsbee||881||4.71%|
|Liberal||William Thomas Henry||858||4.58%|
|Conservative||M. W. Robertson||361||1.93%|
|Independent||J. W. Leedy||140||0.75%|
|Eligible electors / Turnout||33,741||55.5%|
|Source: "Election results for Edmonton, 1926". Alberta Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-09-23.|
|Alberta general election, 1930: Edmonton|
|United Farmers||John Lymburn||3,230||14.76%||3,028||17.54%|
|Liberal||William R. Howson||1,835||8.39%||2,915||16.89%|
|Conservative||N. C. Willson||451||2.06%|
|Liberal||G. V. Pelton||442||2.02%|
|Conservative||J. A. Buchannan||424||1.94%|
|Conservative||R. D. Tighe||189||0.86%|
|Source: "Election results for Edmonton, 1930". Alberta Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-09-23.|
|1942 by-election results (Edmonton)||Turnout N/A|
|Cooperative Commonwealth||Elmer Roper||4,834||24.76%|
|Social Credit||G. B. Giles||4,432||22.70%|
|Soldier Representative||W. Griffin||3,389||17.36%|
|Liberal||N. V. Buchanan||2,838||14.53%|
- Barr, John J. (1974). The Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of Social Credit in Alberta. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited. ISBN 0-7710-1015-X.
- Elliott, David R.; Miller, Iris (1987). Bible Bill: A Biography of William Aberhart. Edmonton: Reidmore Books. ISBN 0-919091-44-X.
- Foster, Franklin L. (1981). John E. Brownlee: A Biography. Lloydminster, Alberta: Foster Learning Inc. ISBN 978-1-55220-004-9.
- Munro, Kenneth (2004). First Presbyterian Church, Edmonton: A History. Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4120-2337-5.
- Sharpe, Robert J.; McMahon, Patricia I. (2007). The Persons Case: the origins and legacy of the fight for legal personhood. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-9750-2.