James Alexander Lougheed

Sir James Alexander Lougheed, KCMG PC KC (/ˈlɔːhd/ LAW-heed or /lɔːˈhd/ law-HEED; 1 September 1854 – 2 November 1925) was a businessman and politician from Alberta, Canada.

Sir James Alexander Lougheed

Senator for Calgary, North-West Territories (after 1905, Alberta)
In office
Personal details
Born(1854-09-01)1 September 1854
Brampton, Canada West
Died2 November 1925(1925-11-02) (aged 71)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal-Conservative
Spouse(s)Isabella Clarke Hardisty
RelationsPeter Lougheed, grandson; Samuel Lougheed, brother
ChildrenEdgar Donald Lougheed, Clarence H. Lougheed (1885–1933), Norman Lougheed; 2 daughters
  • Minister Without Portfolio (1911–1918)
  • Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment (1918–1920)
  • Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs (1920–1921)
  • Minister of the Interior (1920–1921)
  • Minister of Mines (1920–1921)
  • Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment (acting) (1920–1921)
  • Leader of the Government in the Senate (1911–1921)
  • Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (1906–1911 and 1922–1925)

Early life

Lougheed was born in Brampton, Canada West, to Irish Protestant parents, Mary Ann (Alexander) and John Lougheed.[1] The family moved to Weston (now a community within Toronto, Ontario) when Lougheed was a child,[2] and he attended King Street Public School (now H. J. Alexander Public School) and Weston High School (now Weston Collegiate Institute). He attended the University of Toronto and he studied law at the Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and was sworn in as a solicitor in 1881. In 1887 he formed a law practice with Peter McCarthy and two years later in 1889 he became a QC.

In 1882 Lougheed moved with his brother to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and then to Medicine Hat, Northwest Territories, following the newly laid Canadian Pacific Railway main line. One year later he moved to Calgary, then at the end of the CPR line.

He started a legal practice in Calgary in the fields of real estate and transportation law, with the CPR as one of his main clients. He also invested heavily in real estate and opened a brokerage firm. His Lougheed Building in downtown Calgary still stands: it included the GRAND theatre which was saved from demolition in 2004 by the Company Theatre Junction[3] The Grand.

In 1891 he and his wife, the former Belle Hardisty (1859–1936),[4] built a mansion called "Beaulieu"(now Lougheed House) in what is now the Beltline district of Calgary. Beaulieu became the centre of Calgary's social scene, as the Lougheeds welcomed oil millionaires, politicians, royalty, and entertainment stars to their home.[2] He and Belle had six children,[2] four boys and two girls.

Political career

Lougheed had been a member of the federal Conservative Party since his days in Toronto, and had campaigned for Sir John A. Macdonald. Even so, his appointment to the Senate on 10 December 1889 (replacing his wife's uncle, who had died[2]) came as a surprise to many, as Lougheed was only 35 years old at the time. However, he gained the respect of both his fellow senators and his fellow Westerners due to his staunch support of Western interests and his political abilities. Lougheed spent the next 30 years living both in Ottawa and in Calgary.

In order to protect his legal interests, he brought a young lawyer from New Brunswick named R. B. Bennett to Calgary. Bennett and Lougheed worked together for over 20 years until an acrimonious dispute between the senator and the future prime minister caused each to go his own way.

In the 1890s Lougheed emerged as the West's strongest voice in the Senate. He was constantly in the position of having to remind members of the Upper Chamber of the realities of life in the western provinces and territories (Alberta at the time being part of the Northwest Territories). He spoke out fiercely against certain provisions in the act creating the province of Alberta, and declared that it would be better to remain a territory than to have what he called archaic education statutes forced on the province.

In 1906, he became Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. The Conservatives were in opposition for many of Lougheed's early years as a senator. He was knighted by George V in 1916, becoming the only Albertan ever to receive the honour.

When the Conservatives took power following the 1911 election, he became Leader of the Government in the Senate and minister without portfolio in the government of Sir Robert Borden. He was made Chairman of the Military Hospitals Commission in 1915, and, as a reward for this service, was knighted in 1916 (Order of St Michael and St George).

After Borden formed his wartime Union government, he appointed Lougheed as Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment in 1918. From 1920 until the Conservative Party's defeat in the 1921 election, Lougheed also served as Minister of Mines, Minister of the Interior and Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs in the government of Arthur Meighen.

With the Liberals in power, Lougheed resumed his position as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate until his death in 1925, aged 71.

Lougheed was a strict conservative in many ways. His relationship to the First Nations people could be both patriarchal and supportive. Generally, he held the virtually ubiquitous Western view that First Nations people were essentially unintelligent children who needed white control in order to survive; this even though his own mother-in-law was from a First Nation. However, when Indian Affairs officials refused to allow the six Nations to participate in the first Calgary Stampede in 1912, Lougheed with R.B. Bennett fought that decision.[5] He adhered to a strict interpretation of the British North America Act, was against women voting, disliked social innovations, and believed Canada's future was as a subordinate nation in the British Empire.

Lougheed was also a successful businessman through his real estate, newspapers, and other ventures in Calgary. He was a staunch advocate of provincial status for what became Alberta and argued that the province rather than the federal government should have control of natural resources. This argument was carried on by his grandson, Peter Lougheed, when he was premier of Alberta in the 1970s and 1980s.

Death and legacy

Sir James Lougheed died of pneumonia, aged 71, in the Ottawa Civic Hospital, and was buried in Calgary on 8 November 1925.

The village of Lougheed, Alberta, Mount Lougheed in the Rocky Mountains, and Lougheed Island in Nunavut are named after him.

Lougheed House (Beaulieu), built in 1891, has been restored and is now a Heritage Centre in the Beltline district of Calgary.


  1. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/lougheed_james_alexander_15E.html
  2. MacKinnon, Doris Jeanne (2017). "Metis Matriarchs". Canada's History. 97 (6): 38–43. ISSN 1920-9894.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2014-07-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. Sanderson, Kay (1999). 200 Remarkable Alberta Women. Calgary: Famous Five Foundation. p. 12.
  5. Centennial City Calgary 1894-1994, University of Calgary, 1994, page 51-52.
Political offices
Preceded by
Mackenzie Bowell
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
Sir Richard John Cartwright
Preceded by
Sir Richard John Cartwright
Leader of the Government in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
Raoul Dandurand
Preceded by
Hewitt Bostock
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
William Benjamin Ross
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