If the NDP surge in Alberta wasn't enough of a surprise, former premier Jim Prentice handed Albertans another shock on election day.

Shortly after winning his seat in Calgary-Foothills, Prentice announced he is stepping down as party leader and as an MLA after a big election loss brought an end to the Progressive Conservative Party's more than 40-year reign.

"My contribution to public life is now at an end," Prentice told supporters Tuesday night.

His resignation is effective immediately.

Prentice said he will now have more time to spend with his wife, children and grandchildren.

"It's been a great privilege to serve," said Prentice.

PC dynasty at an end

Prentice told CBC News earlier in the campaign that he doesn't worry about legacies when asked if he feels the weight of the roughly 44-year-old Tory dynasty.

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Alberta PC Party leader Jim Prentice has resigned as leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. (Canadian Press)

"I feel the weight of responsibility of Alberta, in the circumstances that we're in which nobody expected. No one expected that oil prices to collapse," he said. 

"No one expected that we would lose close to 50,000 permanent jobs in this province in the last three months. Nobody expected we'd see a $7-billion crater open up in our public finances because of the collapse in oil prices."

He had asked Albertans to give him a mandate after bringing in a "bad-news" budget, but voters decided that Prentice will not stay as premier.