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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

The 1905 Election in Vermilion

We are amid our latest election in Alberta, so throughout the election campaign I will be sharing stories from the past in the area regarding elections.

This time, we are looking at 1905, the very first election in Alberta’s history. This election was held on Nov. 9, 1905, and it was won by the Liberal Party. In fact, the Liberal Party ruled Alberta from 1905 to 1921. The party has never returned to power since then.

This election was important because it was the first one to be held in Alberta, and those elected would vote on important issues such as establishing either Calgary or Edmonton as the capital of the province.

At the time, Vermilion was its own electoral district, and one of 25 created in the 1905 election. The district existed from 1905 to 1971, when it was changed to Vermilion-Viking. During that period, the district supported the Liberals for many years, electing them from 1905 to 1921, and again from 1955 to 1959.

The candidates in the area were Matthew McCauley for the Liberals and Frank Fane for the Conservatives.

McCauley was able to easily defeat Fane, taking 673 votes and 73 per cent of the votes, to 248 won by Frank Fane, who took 26.93 per cent of the vote.

With that win, Matthew McCauley was elected to the Legislature to represent the area. He had co-founded the Edmonton Board of Trade, served in the Home Guard during the 1885 North West Resistance and was the first mayor of Edmonton from 1892 to 1895. He never really lived in the area, and was far more associated with Edmonton.

Nonetheless, he won and played a vital role in making Edmonton the capital of the province.

He only served until 1909 and then became the warden of the Edmonton Penitentiary, serving until 1912 when he moved to B.C. to be a fruit farmer. He died in 1930.

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