Alberta general election, 1913

Alberta general election, 1913
Alberta general election, 1913
1909 ←
25 March 1913 (1913-03-25)
→ 1917

56 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
29 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  Arthur Sifton.jpg Edward michener.png
Leader Arthur Sifton Edward Michener
Party Liberal Conservative
Leader since 1910 1910
Leader's seat Vermilion Red Deer
Last election 36 seats, 59.3% 2 seats, 31.7%
Seats before 33 6
Seats won 39 17
Seat change +6 +11
Popular vote 47,748 43,737
Percentage 49.2% 45.1%
Swing -10.1 +13.4%

  Third party
Leader Charles M. O'Brien
Party Socialist

Leader since 1909
Leader's seat ran in Rocky Mountain
Last election 1 seat, 2.6%
Seats before 1
Seats won 0
Seat change -1
Popular vote 1,814
Percentage 1.9%
Swing -0.7%


Map of 1913 Provincial electoral districts

Premier before election

Arthur Sifton

Elected Premier

Arthur Sifton

The Alberta general election of 1913 was the third general election for the Province of Alberta, Canada. The writ was dropped on 25 March 1913 and election day was held 17 April 1913 to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Elections in two northern districts took place on 30 July 1913 to compensate for the remote location of the riding. The method to elect members was under the First Past the Post voting system with the exception of the Edmonton district which returned two members under a plurality block vote. The writ period for the general election was very short being 23 days.

This election was lead for the first time by Premier Arthur Sifton of the Alberta Liberal Party whom took over for Alexander Rutherford. Premier Rutherford resigned for his government's involvement in the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Scandal but remained a sitting member. Sifton faced great criticism for calling the snap election, after ramming gerrymandered electoral boundaries through the legislature, running up the provincial debt and neglecting on promised railways. Labor candidates in this election allied with the Liberal government and not run under a labor banner.

Edward Michener the official opposition leader of the Conservative Party ended up capitalizing on anger toward the Sifton government. He would lead the largest opposition to date in Alberta history. The Liberals would win a comfortable majority of seats despite being almost even in the popular vote. The Socialist Party vote would collapse and lose their only seat as Charles M. O'Brien went down to defeat at the hands of a Conservative.


Events leading to the election

The campaign

Premier Arthur L. Sifton

The writ of election was issued after a sitting of the house on the night of 25 March 1913. The premier dropped the election writ and dissolved the house after he ensured that the governments legislation on new electoral boundaries had been given Royal Assent. The new boundaries gave the Liberals an advantage, not only were they blatantly gerrymandered to their favour, but the opposition and even private citizens had a tough time figuring out what district they were in.

Edward Michener Leader of the official opposition.

Day one of the campaign brought controversy as it was reported that Hotel organizers and Liquor establishments were being expected to donate generously to the Liberal campaign in order to get licence renewals for their establishments.

Arthur Sifton and his lieutenant Charles Cross both contested nominations in two electoral districts. It was reported in the Calgary Herald that were so scared of the electorate they felt they might not win if they faced just one district. The media accused Premier Sifton of having little confidence in his ability to return his government to power. The Liberal party in order to prevent possible vote splitting made deals with local trade unions and labour organizations to prevent candidates from running under the Labour banner.

The Conservative Party would protest the snap election by filing a legal injunction in the Supreme Court, to prevent the election from being held on 17 April 1913. The grounds for the injunction were based on the date of nomination closure being in violation of statue. The writs were issued with nomination day being 10 April 1913. The Conservatives argued that this was 10 hours short of the 16 full days prescribed in the Elections Ordinance, and the election should be ruled invalid.[1]

Election issues

Calgary Herald cartoon satirizing Premier Arthur Sifton's promised railroads.

The big Issues of the election centred around the Sifton's government lack of infrastructure building in Southern Alberta.

The ballooning Alberta debt which in a few years had gone from 2 million dollars to 27 million was talked about often.

Gerrymandered boundaries

Prior to the dropping of the writ the Sifton government forced a bill through the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The bill was entitled Bill 90: An Act to Amend an Act concerning members elected to the Legislative assembly of Alberta It was introduced in the assembly on 20 March 1913 and given Royal Assent on 25 March 1913.[2]

The bill increased the amount of electoral districts in the province by 25. The boundaries did not contain equal population with one riding Clearwater only containing 74 people enumerated. Calgary Centre was the largest population wise with 20,000 people enumerated. The bill drawn with a line at the centre of the province gave 30 seats to the north half of the province with 26 seats in the south.

The Conservative and Socialist opposition vigorously opposed the bill, but failed to pass any amendments. The bill was jammed through third reading in the March 25 legislative sitting and given Royal Assent that evening, just shy of the writ of elections being dropped.

Siftonism and Crossism

A ad that appeared in the Nanton News 10 April 1913 effectively highlights campaign issues, the ad was run by Conservative J.T. Cooper to attack his opponent Liberal John Glendenning

The Liberal campaign was dubbed "Siftonism" inferring that Sifton was a disease that needed to be cleaned from Alberta. The media at the time picked up on that, and roasted the Liberal party. The Conservative party attacked the Liberals on the Railway Scandal and Lack of provincial infrastructure.


The final result was Liberal Party, under its new leader, Arthur L. Sifton, won a third term in office, defeating Conservative Party, which was once again led by Edward Michener. The opposition gained the most picking up old districts, while the Liberals won mostly new ridings allowing them to hang on to a majority.

The popular vote reflected a different picture as the votes between the Conservatives and Liberals were split almost even with a difference of over 4,000 separating the two parties. The Socialist vote collapsed and they lost their only seat.


Party Party Leader # of
Seats Popular Vote
1909 Elected % Change # % % Change
Arthur L. Sifton
51/541 2 36 38/391 +8.3% 47,748 49.23% -10.03%
Edward Michener
56 2 17 +750% 43,737 45.10% +13.4%
     Independent 14 1 - -100% 3,639 3.75% +0.36%
Charles M. O'Brien
5 1 - -100% 1,814 1.87% -0.73%
Arthur L. Sifton
23 * - * 4 4 *
     Independent Liberal 1 1 - -100% 47 0.05% -2.57%
Total 129/132 41 55/56 +36.6% 96,985 100%
Source: Elections Alberta


  1. Charles Cross ran in and won in two ridings.
  2. Arthur Sifton and Alexander G. MacKay ran for the Liberal in two districts but only won in 1 district.
  3. Liberal-Labor candidates were a result of the Liberal Labour coalition struck by Premier Sifton prior to the election, these candidates ran in place of Liberals.
  4. Liberal-Labor popular vote is included in Liberal vote.
Party name Calgary Edmonton1 North Central South Total
Liberal Seats: 0 1 11 15 11 38
Popular vote: 32.1% 40.3% 37.9% 32.5% 19.8%
Conservative Seats: 3 2 1 5 7 18
Popular vote: 50.5% 31.5% 38.3% 44.1% 55.5%
Total seats: 3 3 12 20 18 56
Parties that won no seats:
     Socialist Popular vote: 5.5% 1.0% 3.1% 1.2% 2.8%
     Independent Popular vote: 0.1% 0.2% - - 0.1%
     Independent Liberal Popular vote: 0.1% 0.2% - - 0.1%

Members of the Legislative Assembly elected

For complete electoral history, see individual districts

3rd Alberta Legislative Assembly
  District Member Party
    1 Acadia John McColl Liberal
    2 Alexandra James Lowery Conservative
    4 Beaver River Wilfrid Gariépy Liberal
    5 Bow Valley George Lane Liberal
    6 Centre Calgary Thomas Tweedie Conservative
    7 North Calgary Samuel Bacon Hillocks Conservative
    8 South Calgary Thomas Blow Conservative
    9 Camrose George P. Smith Liberal
    10 Cardston Martin Woolf Liberal
    11 Claresholm William Moffat Liberal
    12 Clearwater Henry William McKenney Liberal
    13 Cochrane Charles W. Fisher Liberal
    14 Coronation Frank H. Whiteside Liberal
    15 Didsbury Joseph Stauffer Liberal
    16 Edmonton Charles Cross Liberal
    16 Albert Ewing Conservative
    17 Edmonton South Herbert Crawford Conservative
    18 Edson Charles Cross Liberal
    19 Gleichen John Peter McArthur Liberal
    20 Grouard Jean Côté Liberal
    21 Hand Hills Robert Eaton Liberal
    22 High River George Douglas Stanley Conservative
    23 Innisfail Fred W. Archer Conservative
    24 Lac Ste. Anne Peter Gunn Liberal
    25 Lacombe William Puffer Liberal
    26 Leduc Stanley Tobin Liberal
    27 Lethbridge City John Smith Stewart Conservative
    28 Little Bow James McNaughton Liberal
    29 Macleod Robert Patterson Conservative
    30 Medicine Hat Nelson Spencer Conservative
    31 Nanton John M. Glendenning Liberal
    32 Okotoks George Hoadley Conservative
    33 Olds Duncan Marshall Liberal
    35 Pembina Gordon MacDonald Liberal
    36 Pincher Creek John Kemmis Conservative
    37 Ponoka William A. Campbell Liberal
    38 Red Deer Edward Michener Conservative
    39 Redcliff Charles Pingle Liberal
    40 Ribstone James Gray Turgeon Liberal
    41 Rocky Mountain Robert Campbell Conservative
    42 Sedgewick Charles Stewart Liberal
    43 St. Albert Lucien Boudreau Liberal
    44 Stettler Robert L. Shaw Liberal
    45 St. Paul Prosper-Edmond Lessard Liberal
    46 Stony Plain Conrad Weidenhammer Conservative
    47 Sturgeon John R. Boyle Liberal
    48 Taber Archibald J. McLean Liberal
    49 Vegreville Joseph S. McCallum Liberal
    50 Vermilion Arthur Lewis Sifton Liberal
    51 Victoria Francis Walker Liberal
    52 Wainwright George LeRoy Hudson Conservative
    53 Warner Frank Leffingwell Liberal
    54 Wetaskiwin Charles H. Olin Liberal
    55 Whitford Andrew Shandro Liberal

Charles Cross was elected in both Edson and Edmonton and represented both ridings until 1917

30 July 1913

  District Member Party
    3 Athabasca Alexander Grant MacKay Liberal
    34 Peace River Alphaeus Patterson Conservative


  1. ^ Application by law clerk to stop election Edmonton Daily Bulletin 5 April 1913

See also

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