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  Main > Indepth Features > Political Timeline
Voting Day September 29, 2003  
Indepth  Features

 

Political Timeline
CBC Online News | Sept. 17

We may be small, but Prince Edward Island has carved out its share of political history.

Islanders were the first in Canada to elect a female premier. Our ancestors also elected the first Acadian premier in the country. And we gave a government a total mandate, becoming the first province in the Commonwealth to have no voice of opposition.

From farmers to war heroes, lawyers to teachers, here are the 36 people who have held the title of premier of Prince Edward Island.

Pre-Confederation 1800 - 1873
Post-Confederation 1874 - 1900
Pre-WWII 1900 - 1939
Post-WWII 1940 - 2003

 

 

   Pre-Confederation 1800 - 1873
George Coles

George Coles
Premier from 1851 to 1854, 1855 to 1859, 1867 to 1869

George Coles led the struggle for responsible government on Prince Edward Island. He also helped found the Liberal party in the province, and then became the first premier of Prince Edward Island. Coles entered politics in 1841 as the representative for the New London-DeSable district in the Legislative Assembly. His government's Free Education Act brought new education opportunities to Islanders. The Land Ownership Act reformed the way property on the Island was owned.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

John Myrie Holl

John Myrie Holl
Premier from 1854 to 1855

Just a few years after responsible government was introduced, Holl was not only appointed to the Legislative Assembly, but also appointed premier by the Conservatives after the defeat of Coles.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

Edward Palmer

Edward Palmer
Premier from 1859 to 1863

One of the Fathers of Confederation, Palmer spent 38 consecutive years in politics.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

John Hamilton Gray

John Hamilton Gray
Premier from 1863 to 1865

Though born and raised in Charlottetown, Colonel John Hamilton Gray earned his reputation in the British army. He chaired the 1864 Confederation Conference, which laid the groundwork for the British North America Act of 1867.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

James Colledge Pope

James Colledge Pope
Premier from 1865 to 1867, 1870, 1873

Pope's time in the legislature saw the province take dramatic steps in education, religion, economic development, the railway and Confederation. Helping negotiate the acceptance of the Island into the Dominion of Canada, he was the last premier of the colony of Prince Edward Island and the first premier of the new province.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

Joseph Hensley

Joseph Hensley
Premier for 1869

Hensley moved into leadership of both the Liberal party and the government as the health of George Coles began to decline. After serving as premier in 1869, he was appointed to the P.E.I. Supreme Court. This began a precedent that lasted for more than a century.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

Robert Poore Haythorne

Robert Poore Haythorne
Premier from 1869 to 1870, 1871 to 1873

Haythorne became a member of the legislative assembly after being elected by the tenants of the 10,000 acres of land he held in Marshfield. Haythorne had earlier sold his estate to the tenants for $2 an acre when the issue of land ownership came to a head. He became premier again in 1872 on a promise to extend the Prince Edward Island Railway to Tignish and Souris.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

Lemuel Cambridge Owen

Lemuel Cambridge Owen
Premier from 1873 to 1876

L.C. Owen was one of the most prominent business people in Prince Edward Island at the time he was elected to the assembly and to the position of premier. He built and sold ships until the age of sail ended. He was also a Director of Merchants Bank of Prince Edward Island, the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company and the Marine Insurance Company. His mark on Island history came when he ended proprietary land holding and the practice of tenant farming in the province.

More information from Elections P.E.I. >>

Post-Confederation 1874 - 1900 >>

SOURCE: Elections P.E.I.
Photos courtesy of the Elections Prince Edward Island.

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