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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

Vermilions Election History

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.

The past few weeks, I have looked at individual elections, but for my final Alberta election piece, which will come out after the election, I’ll look at the election history for area since 1905.

Beginning in 1905, and lasting until 1921, Vermilion was represented by a Liberal Party MLA.

It began with Matthew McCauley, who served from 1905 to 1906, then James Holden from 1906 to 1909. McCauley played an important role in Edmonton becoming the capital of the province, arguing for the choice in the Legislature. It also helped he was a former mayor of Edmonton.

Archibald Campbell represented the area from 1909 to 1910 when he made room for Arthur Sifton, the premier of Alberta, to serve Vermilion from 1910 to 1917. Then it was Arthur Ebbett.

From 1921 to 1935, Richard Gavin Reid represented Vermilion in the Legislature. He also served as premier from 1934 to 1935.

During the Social Credit era, it was not a clean sweep for the party during its time in charge from 1935 to 1971.

While William Fallow and William Cornish represented the area as Social Credit MLAs from 1935 to 1955, Russell Whitson surprised everyone when he won as a Liberal candidate and served from 1955 to 1959. The 1955 vote count in Vermilion had to go through three times before Whitson was declared the winner by 20 votes.

The man he defeated, Ashley Cooper, then served as MLA for the area from 1959 to 1975.

In 1971, Vermilion became Vermilion Viking and the era of Conservative MLAs began. Tom Lyson and Steve West represented the area as Progressive Conservative MLAs from 1975 to 2001. In 1993, the district became Vermilion-Lloydminster.

From 2001 to 2012, Lloyd Snelgrove was the MLA, sitting as an independent in 2012. Then Richard Starke took over the district from 2012 to 2019.

Finally, in 2019, Vermilion-Lloydminster became Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright and Garth Rowswell has served as its MLA since 2019.

Sharing Canadian history through social media, history columns and on my podcast is what I do for a living. Please consider supporting that by donating at (click Donate).

Contact Craig at

Listen to his podcasts Canadian History Ehx, Canada’s Great War, From John to Justin, Pucks and Cups and Canada: A Yearly Journey on all podcast platforms.

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