World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

History of Canadian first ministers

This is a brief history of First Minister positions in Canada, which include the Prime Minister of Canada and thirteen Premiers of Canada's ten provinces and three territories.


  • Canada 1
  • Alberta 2
  • British Columbia 3
  • Manitoba 4
  • New Brunswick 5
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 6
  • Northwest Territories 7
  • Nova Scotia 8
  • Nunavut 9
  • Ontario 10
  • Prince Edward Island 11
  • Quebec 12
  • Saskatchewan 13
  • Yukon 14
  • References 15



In the unusual case of Alberta, the line of premiers can be divided into four unbroken "dynasties" of rule by four different parties, with no party ever taking power again after being defeated. The first party to govern the province was the Alberta Liberal Party from 1905 to 1921, encompassing three premiers. The second dynasty, also lasting three premierships, was of the United Farmers of Alberta, lasting from 1921 to 1935. The third, once again with three premiers, was the Social Credit Party of Alberta from 1935 to 1971. This dynasty included premier Ernest Manning, who governed the province for twenty-five years and is its longest-serving premier. The current dynasty, on its fourth premier, is that of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, which has governed the province since 1971.

British Columbia


Manitoba did not adopt a party system until 1888. Before that time, the premiership changed frequently, with five premierships in the first parliament alone. The only premier to serve a long term during this time was John Norquay, who held the office for nine years from 1878 to 1887. After the party system was adopted, the premiership alternated between the Manitoba Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba (originally just "Conservative") until 1969. Thenafter, it alternated between the New Democratic Party of Manitoba and the Progressive Conservatives. The longest serving premier of Manitoba was John Bracken, who held the office for twenty-one years from 1922 to 1943 and was a member of the Liberal Party, then calling itself the "Liberal-Progressive Party".

New Brunswick

New Brunswick has replaced its premiers slightly more often than most other provinces, and is on its thirtieth premier since Confederation. New Brunswick did not have a party system until 1931, and all premiers before that date officially ran as independents. Nevertheless, there were several premiers who unofficially named a party alligance, especially in the later part of this era. The longest serving premier in this era was Andrew G. Blair, who governed for thirteen years from 1883 to 1896. Since the introduction of the party system, premiership has alternated back and forth several times between the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Liberal Association. The longest serving premier during this period was Conservative Richard Bennett Hatfield, who governed for seventeen years from 1970 to 1987.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia



Ontario has alternated between premiers from the Ontario Liberal Party and Ontario Progressive Conservative Party throughout its history, much like the federal level Liberals and Progressive Conservatives/Conservatives. Two premiers have been from other parties and served one term each: Ernest Drury of the United Farmers of Ontario in the 1920s and Bob Rae of the Ontario New Democratic Party in the early 1990s. Two premiers have served as premiers of coalition governments: its first premier John Sandfield Macdonald who led a hung parliament after the province's very first election, and David Peterson who led a joint Liberal-NDP coalition in the late 1980s. There are two occasions when one party has held power in Ontario for a considerable length of time, the Liberals for 25 years from 1871 to 1896, and the Conservatives for 42 years from 1943 to 1985. The province's longest-serving premier, Sir Oliver Mowat, was in office for 24 years, and during that time came into conflict with Sir John A. Macdonald several times over provincial rights. Mowat was usually victorious in these conflicts, and he was largely responsible for the present power held by provincial governments.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island has alternated between premiers from the Prince Edward Island Liberal Party and the Prince Edward Island Progressive Conservative Party since before it joined Confederation in 1873. The longest streaks of power were each twenty years long when the Liberal Party governed from 1891 to 1911 and again from 1935 to 1959. Terms for individual premiers have been slightly shorter than for other provinces, with the average premier serving just over four years before being replaced. This is due to both an exchange of power between parties after elections and because of early retirements within governing parties. Only two premiers have sered for over ten years: Liberal Alexander B. Campbell 1966 to 1978 and Progressive Conservative Pat Binns from 1996 to 2007.



Saskatchewan has had premiers from five different parties and one coalition premier. Various premiers from the Saskatchewan Liberal Party governed from 1905 to 1944 with only one term interrupting the streak under the premiership of James T.M. Anderson, who led a coalition of Conservatives, Progressives, and independents. After the Liberal streak ended, premier Tommy Douglas governed as a member of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. He was Saskatchewan's longest serving premier, being in power for seventeen years from 1944 to 1961 before moving to federal politics. Since 1961, the provinces has been governed by various premiers from the Liberal Party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (a renamed CCF), and the Saskatchewan Party (a party consisting mostly of former Progressive Conservative members).



This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.