Alexander Cameron Rutherford

Alexander Cameron Rutherford KC (February 2, 1857 – June 11, 1941) was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as the first premier of Alberta from 1905 to 1910. Born in Ormond, Canada West, he studied and practiced law in Ottawa before he moved with his family to the North-West Territories in 1895. There, he began his political career, winning in his third attempt a seat in the North-West Legislative Assembly. In keeping with the territorial custom, Rutherford ran as an independent but generally supported the territorial administration of Premier Frederick W. A. G. Haultain. At the federal level, however, Rutherford was a Liberal.

Alexander Cameron Rutherford
Portrait by Elliott & Fry, c.1908–1910
1st Premier of Alberta
In office
September 2, 1905  May 26, 1910
Monarch
Lieutenant GovernorGeorge H. V. Bulyea
Succeeded byArthur Sifton
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Strathcona
In office
November 9, 1905  April 17, 1913
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byDistrict abolished
Alberta Provincial Treasurer
In office
September 9, 1905  June 1, 1910
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byArthur Sifton
Alberta Minister of Education
In office
September 9, 1905  June 1, 1910
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byCharles R. Mitchell
Alberta Minister of Railways
In office
November 1, 1909  June 1, 1910
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by
  • Vacant
  • Arthur Sifton (1912)
Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories for Strathcona
In office
May 21, 1902  September 1, 1905
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byDistrict abolished
Personal details
BornFebruary 2, 1857
near Ormond, Canada West
DiedJune 11, 1941(1941-06-11) (aged 84)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Political partyAlberta Liberal
Other political
affiliations
North-West Territories Liberal-Conservative Party (1890s–1905)
Spouse
Mattie Birkett
(m. 1888; died 1940)
Children3
Alma materMcGill University
ProfessionLawyer
Signature

When the Province of Alberta was formed in 1905, its Lieutenant Governor, George Bulyea, asked Rutherford to form the new province's first government. As premier, Rutherford's first task was to win a workable majority in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, which he did in that year's provincial election. His second was to organize the provincial government, and his government established everything from speed limits to a provincial court system. The legislature also controversially, and with Rutherford's support, selected Edmonton over rival Calgary as the provincial capital. Calgarians' bruised feelings were not salved when the government located the University of Alberta, a project dear to the Premier's heart, in his hometown of Strathcona, just across the North Saskatchewan River from Edmonton.

The government was faced with labour unrest in the coal mining industry, which it resolved by establishing a commission to examine the problem. It also set up a provincial government telephone network (Alberta Government Telephones) at great expense, and tried to encourage the development of new railways. It was in pursuit of the last objective that the Rutherford government found itself embroiled in scandal. Early in 1910, William Henry Cushing's resignation as Minister of Public Works precipitated the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway scandal, which turned many of Rutherford's Liberals against his government. Eventually, pressure from many party figures forced Rutherford to resign. He kept his seat in the legislature after resigning as premier, but he was defeated in the 1913 election by Conservative Herbert Crawford.

After leaving politics, Rutherford continued his law practice and his involvement with a wide range of community groups. Most importantly, he became chancellor of the University of Alberta, whose earlier founding had been a personal project, and stayed in that position until he died of a heart attack. A University of Alberta library, an Edmonton elementary school, and Jasper National Park's Mount Rutherford are named in his honour. Additionally, his home, Rutherford House, was opened as a museum in 1973.


Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Alexander Cameron Rutherford, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.