As Alberta’s centennial year celebrations draw to a close, Alberta Venture proudly presents the century’s Greatest Albertan.
Over the last hundred years, Alberta has grown from a stopping point on the Canadian Pacific Railway’s journey west into this country’s overachiever. As Alberta’s centennial year celebrations draw to a close, Alberta Venture proudly presents the century’s Greatest Albertan.
The 50 Greatest Albertans Methodology
The voting method for the 50 Greatest Albertans was a popular one, but not uncomplicated. To begin, Alberta Venture and Shaw TV asked the province’s most influential business and community leaders who they would pick as the Greatest Albertan. Those names were compiled and posted online at GreatestAlbertan.com. Votes were cast from across Canada and as far away as Australia and Japan, from July through October 2005. Many voters went further by nominating their own heroes; all were counted. The contest closed October 31, 2005, and votes were tabulated by Alberta Venture staff.
Alberta Venture salutes the many individuals who built this great province. Thank you to all who voted at GreatestAlbertan.com and the many people who sent us heartfelt testimonials.
We are pleased to share a few of your words about your heroes.
“Asael E. Palmer saved the farms in southern Alberta from blowing away by inventing the process called ‘trash cover.’ He was also influential in politics and supervised the experimental farm outside Lethbridge for a number of years.”
“Martin Cohos was a significant contributor to Calgary’s skyline.”
“Lois Hole was a kind and generous humanitarian who gave so much to the province.”
“Charles Stewart’s most significant contributions to Alberta were his efforts, both as premier and later as minister of mines and resources, to have the owner-ship of natural resources transferred to the province.”
“The Delwin Vriend Decision is now part of Canadian jurisprudence and a part of judicial and human rights history. It was a key decision in the extension of human and civil rights in Canada.”
“Ralph T. Scurfield was someone that believed in the importance of education and in the community.”
“In 1929, Karl Clark patented the innovative hot-water extraction process for separating bitumen from oilsands. In 1948, a pilot plant at Bitumount, in the Athabasca tar sands, proved Clark’s hot-water extraction process was feasible.”
“Dr. Ray Rajotte is a pioneer in the fight against diabetes.”
The 50 Greatest Albertans
- Grant MacEwan served as mayor of Calgary and lieutenant governor and wrote more than 50 books on agriculture, politics, and literature. He was the first person to receive the Premier’s Award of Excellence in 1985 and was awarded five honorary doctor of laws degrees as well as the Order of Canada. In recognition of the impact he had on the province, Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton and Grant MacEwan Elementary School in Calgary bear his name
- Ralph T. Scurfield was a pioneering businessman in the Calgary area, having built Nu-West Homes into the biggest home-building company in Alberta’s history. He, along with several other business partners, took ownership of the Calgary Flames in 1981 as a show of his support and dedication to the city he loved.
- Lois Hole was a wife and mother,a grandmother, an au-thor, a savvy businesswoman and a -prominant literacy advocate. In 1995, the “Queen of Hugs” was Edmonton’s Business and Profes-sional Woman of the year and was appointed in 1999 both a member of the Order of Canada and lieutenant governor, a position held until her death in 2005.
- Peter Lougheed was premier from 1971 to 1985. He introduced Alberta’s Heritage Fund and is considered to be one of Alberta’s most dynamic and influential leaders of the century. He was named a companion of the Order of Canada in 1986 and remains active in Canadian private enterprise.
- Emily Murphy was the British Empire’s first police magistrate who successfully led the Famous Five in the 1929 “Person’s Case,” which saw women recognized under the British North America Act, Canada’s then de facto constitution. A women’s rights activist, author and journalist, Murphy is considered by many to be Canada’s most prominent feminist.
- Ralph Klein, premier of Alberta since 1992, has led the province to record oil and gas revenues while retaining a firm hand on excess spending. The former mayor of Calgary brought the 1988 Winter Olympics to the city and plans to lead the province until 2007.
- Joseph Gurba served Alberta Agriculture for 36 years in many capacities, most notably as head of the provincial crop protection branch. As the first employee of the rat control program, Gurba is one of the biggest reasons the province has been rat-free for more than 50 years.
- Thelma Chalifoux is known as a driving force in the Canadian Métis community as a senator,- a land claims negotiator, a child -welfare advocate and a consultant. In 1995, she was the first aboriginal female in Canada to be honoured with a coveted Na-tional Aboriginal Achievement Award and is a devoted activist who works tirelessly for the underprivileged.
- Ernest Manning started his political career under William Aberhart and, upon his death in 1943, Manning became premier; a position he held until his own death in 1969. Manning provided low taxes and increased social services, while working to increase the prosperity of the -province’s oil and gas industry.
- Nellie McClung, a member of the Famous Five, helped in the landmark”Persons Case” which saw women recognized under the British North America Act. Her teachings are still applied in provincial schools and her name embodies passion, commitment and politics to young women.
- Kurt Browning is a popular three-time Olympian and world figure skating champion who was honoured twice as Canada’s Athlete of the Year.
- Stockwell Day was elected as the MLA for Red Deer in 1986 and became leader of the federal Canadian Alliance Party in 2000.
- Anne McLellan is a well-known lawyer and federal politician who in 2003 was appointed deputy prime minister under Paul Martin.
- Asael Exile (A.E.) Palmer is an Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame member who was superintendent of the Lethbridge Experimental Station.
- Wayne Gretzky is the NHL’s all-time leading scorer and was instrumental in four of the Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup wins.
- Karl Clark patented the hot-water extraction process for separating bitumen from oil sands and was one of the founding scientists for the Alberta Research Council.
- Ron Southern guided his father’s dream of corporate instant housing into a multi-billion dollar dream by creating Atco Ltd.
- Charles Stewart was a life-long politician; premier from 1917-21, the first minister of municipal affairs and Canadian representative to the League of Nations.
- Jamie Salé is a Red Deer native and the 2002 Olympic gold medallist in pairs figure skating with partner David Pelletier.
- Senator Pat Burns was the chairman of numerous companies, a rancher, and member of the Alberta Business Hall of Fame.
- Ron “Buckshot” Barge hosted Buckshot, the children’s television show, which aired on CFCN from 1967 to 1992.
- George Blondheim is a noted composer, conductor, musician and director who has received the Queen’s Canada 125 medal for his provincial and national contributions.
- Nicola Murphy, the manager of the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (CWRS), is an educator who also works tirelessly to treat and release injured animals back into the wild.
- Thomas Riley built the home, Houns-field Lodge, where Hounsfield Heights, a popular escarpment that overlooks Calgary’s downtown and the distant Rocky Mountains, now stands.
- John Ware was Alberta’s original black pioneer who figures prominently- in many of the last century’s legends of Western Canada.
- Joe Clark was born in High River and became our sixteenth prime minister. He remained a prominent Canadian politician until his retirement in 2004.
- Dr. Ray Rajotte is one of the founders of the Islet Transplantation Group and is responsible for revolutionizing diabetes research around the world.
- Samuel Livingston is often called “Calgary’s first citizen” and settled near Fort Calgary, at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, in 1875.
- Irene Lewis is the dynamic president of Calgary’s South-ern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), a position to which she brings more than 30 years of educational experience.
- Doug Mitchell committed himself to successful business practices as past president of the Alberta Economic Development Authority and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
- Martin Cohos is the founder of the architectural firm Cohos Evamy Partners and is a committed volunteer to various local and national causes.
- W.O. Mitchell remains one of our most beloved writers, a member of the Order of Canada and an honourary Member of the Privy Council.
- Eric Harvie was a Calgary-based philanthropist and benefactor to the Glenbow Museum, the Calgary Zoo and the Banff Centre, among many others.
- Clayton Carroll has always played a significant role in Calgary, from his paving company to his gift of $1 million to SAIT’s automotive program.
- Alexander Rutherford was Alberta’s premier between 1905 and 1910. He and his government were instrumental in promoting Alberta’s railway and road expansion, as well as a well-received public telephone- system.
- Stu Hart was father of wrestlers Owen and Bret “The Hitman” Hart and was instrumental in the popularity of the Stampede Wrestling promotion.
- William Aberhart was premier of the first Social Credit government in Alberta. The party went on to govern for more than 35 years (1935-71).
- Preston Manning, founder of the Reform Party, is author of The New Canada and Think Big: My adventures in life and democracy.
- John Forzani expanded his athletic shoe store in Calgary into Forzani Group Ltd., a conglomerate with over $1 billion in annual corporate and franchise sales.
- Tom Jackson received the Queen’s Jubilee medal in 2002 and Time Magazine named him one of Canada’s best activists.
- Max Ward built Wardair, a company that became Canada’s largest airline charter service and the fifth largest of its kind in Canada.
- Clive Beddoe founded WestJet in 1996. The airline has grown to operate- 18 Boeing 737 jet aircrafts out of more than 20 North American cities.
- Dr. Francis Winspear helped found the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 1952 and donated $6 million to what is now the Winspear Centre for Music.
- Delwin Vriend won his landmark case of wrongful dismissal based on his sexual orientation before the Supreme Court of Canada in 1998.
- Jarome Iginla played right wing for the Calgary Flames and was first pick by the Dallas Stars in 1995, which was his first season in the NHL.
- Louise McKinney was the first female elected to a legislature in the British Empire in 1917 and was a member of the Famous Five.
- Grant Notley is known as a poli-tical stalwart for Alberta’s New Democratic Party and was leader of the opposition in the early 1980s.
- Ernest Poole launched a family-led construction company in the 1920s which became PCL Construction Ltd. and is now 100% employee-owned.
- Ian Tyson is the Canadian folk music legend responsible for penning “Four Strong Winds” and is a recipient of the Order of Canada.
- Jann Arden is a multiple Juno winner and mainstay of the Canadian music scene. She is also an ambassador for World Vision Canada.