Terry Cavanagh (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Terry Cavanagh
29th Mayor of Edmonton
In office
November 14, 1975 – October 19, 1977
Preceded byWilliam Hawrelak
Succeeded byCec Purves
In office
October 17, 1988 – October 16, 1989
Preceded byLaurence Decore
Succeeded byJan Reimer
Alderman/Councillor on the Edmonton City Council (Ward 6)
In office
October 22, 1992 – October 15, 2007
Serving with Sheila McKay (1992–1995),
Dick Mather (1995–1997), and
Dave Thiele (1998-2007)
Preceded byKen Kozak, Sheila McKay
Succeeded byAmarjeet Sohi, Dave Thiele
In office
October 17, 1983 – 1988
Serving with Bettie Hewes (1983–1984) and
Ken Kozak (1984–1988)
Preceded byBettie Hewes, Ed Leger
Succeeded byKen Kozak, Sheila McKay
Alderman on the Edmonton City Council (Ward 4)
In office
October 13, 1971 – November 1975
Serving with Una Evans and Buck Olsen (1971–1974), and
Bettie Hewes and Buck Olsen (1974–1975)
Preceded byNew district
Succeeded byWilliam Chmiliar, Bettie Hewes, Buck Olsen
Personal details
Born(1926-07-19)July 19, 1926
Edmonton, Alberta
DiedDecember 17, 2017(2017-12-17) (aged 91)
Edmonton, Alberta
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)June Gould Cavanagh

Terence James Cavanagh (/ˈkævənɑː/; July 19, 1926 – December 17, 2017) was a Canadian politician, municipal councillor in Edmonton, Alberta, who served as mayor. He was Edmonton's first native-born mayor.

Early life[edit]

Cavanagh was born in Edmonton on July 19, 1926, to recent Scottish immigrants. He attended high school in Edmonton before moving to Galt, Ontario to play hockey for the Galt Red Wings of the Ontario Hockey Association, where he was a teammate of Gordie Howe.

After stints with the Dallas Texans of the United States Hockey League, the Valleyfield Braves of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, and the Los Angeles Ramblers and the Trail Smoke Eaters of the Western International Hockey League, he retired from hockey and found employment in the purchasing department of Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. in Trail, British Columbia.

Cavanagh married June Gould on April 12, 1948; the couple would have three children, and June would herself serve as an Edmonton alderman.

In 1957, he returned to Edmonton to work as the purchasing manager for Premier Steel Mills Ltd. He stayed on when the company was taken over by Stelco Steel in 1962, and remained in the position until 1977.

Political career[edit]

Early career and hiatus[edit]

Cavanagh entered politics during the 1968 Edmonton election, when he ran for Edmonton City Council as an aldermanic candidate. He was defeated, finishing fourteenth of thirty-two candidates in an election in which the top twelve were elected.

He was more successful during the 1971 election; Edmonton had adopted a ward system (in which three aldermen were elected in each of four wards) to replace the previous at-large method of election, and Cavanagh placed second of seventeen candidates in Ward 4. He was re-elected in the 1974 election, when he placed first of nine candidates.

On November 7, 1975, mayor William Hawrelak died in office. After nine ballots, Council chose Cavanagh over Laurence Decore to serve out his term,[1] but when ran to retain the position in the 1977 election, he finished third, nearly ten thousand votes behind victor Cec Purves and under a thousand behind Decore (he did finish well ahead of former mayor Ivor Dent, however). He stayed out of politics for six years following this defeat, serving as chair of the Government of Alberta's Alberta Rent Decontrol Appeal Board (tasked with the elimination of provincial rent controls) from 1977-80 and as a communications advisor for the Alberta Energy Company Ltd. from 1980-84.

He rejected overtures from Neil Stanley Crawford to run for the Legislative Assembly of Alberta as a Progressive Conservative, commenting later that he had little interest in sitting as a backbencher after serving as mayor of Edmonton, and that Premier Peter Lougheed had not been prepared to promise him a cabinet position.

Return to council[edit]

He returned to Council after the 1983 election, when he finished second of eight candidates in Ward 6 (Edmonton's ward system had been revised such that there were two aldermen elected from each of six wards). He was re-elected in the 1986 election, placing first of nine candidates.

In 1988, Decore (who had been elected mayor in 1983) resigned to take a position as leader of the Alberta Liberal Party. Again Council chose Cavanagh to serve as interim mayor, and again he was defeated soundly when he sought re-election - this time, he finished with fewer than half the votes of Jan Reimer during the 1989 municipal election.

He would win his old aldermanic seat back in the 1992 election, and would be re-elected in the 1995, 1998, 2001, and 2004 elections.

In May 2007, Cavanagh announced that he would not seek election in the 2007 municipal election.[2]

Political views, initiatives, and reputation[edit]

Cavanagh had excellent ties with Edmonton's immigrant and especially Chinese communities. Members of the Chinese community threw him a dinner for his eightieth birthday, and he claims that he can say "vote for me" in "15 or 17 languages". He was an advocate for the development of Edmonton's North Saskatchewan River valley as a park area, despite the fact that he is not generally known as an environmentalist.

Despite his experience in removing rent controls during the 1970s, he urged Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach to consider reintroducing them during Alberta's recent economic boom and accompanying tight housing market.

Personal life and extra-political involvement[edit]

Cavanagh was a communications instructor, and taught courses on the subject at Victoria Composite High School, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (where he also taught a purchasing management course), and the University of Alberta's Faculty of Extension. He also taught a government relations course at Grant MacEwan College.

Cavanagh died in December 2017 at the age of 91.[3]


  1. ^ "Edmonton council elects Cavanagh as mayor", Winnipeg Free Press, November 15, 1975, p. 6.
  2. ^ "Council 'statesman' says 27 years is enough". Edmonton Journal. Postmedia Network. May 16, 2007. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  3. ^ Former Edmonton mayor Terry Cavanagh dies at 91
Political offices
Preceded by
William Hawrelak
Mayor of Edmonton
Succeeded by
Cecil John Harry Purves
Preceded by
Laurence G. Decore
Mayor of Edmonton
Succeeded by
Janice Rhea Reimer