Premier of Alberta 1921-1925
Many thanks to AFHS member and volunteer, Heather Jaremko,
who provided the typescript of this page and obtained the permission
of the Calgary Herald
to reprint this work in the AFHS website. This work is based on
reports in the Calgary Herald between 1929 and 1939.
We will be pleased to hear from anyone who descends from
Herbert Greenfield and can fill us in on the family history of this
Alberta leader. Please contact the AFHS to start this dialogue
Herbert Greenfield became the first United Farmers of Alberta premier
in 1921. In the middle of the bad time in Alberta (1919-1922), a
new force emerged in Alberta politics. The United Farmers of Alberta
had been founded in 1909, but in 1921 the organization had been
content to act as a pressure group on Alberta's Liberal government.
That year the UFA, which had enrolled 1/3 of the provinces' farmers,
lost its patience. It ran its own candidates, and won 3 times as
many seats as the Liberals. The cities elected 4 Labor Candidates
who were generally sympathetic to the UFA.
The UFA victory was especially remarkable considering how deeply
its leader distrusted party politics. Henry Wisewood had become
president of the UFA in 1916. An American, he had moved to Alberta
the year of provincehood, when he was 45 and became a Canadian citizen
in 1911. He held that farmers should act co-operatively to defend
themselves against the exploiters who surrounded them; but he did
not believe that farmers of any other interest group should try
to form a government. In 1921, Wood's followers swept past that
article of his faith. Wood himself never ran for office.
The Farmer's Party's shifting of the Premiership from Mr. Greenfield
to Mr. John Edward Brownlee is one
of the most curious events in Canadian political history.
Much dissatisfaction with the rule of the Farmer Party in Alberta
has been expressed, and this feeling has been growing stronger with
the passing of time, but the public has felt that Greenfield was
as good as his party. Fear of what may happen at the next provincial
election has induced the Farmer members to lead Greenfield to the
slaughter, weak members have sacrificed the leader of their own
No government ever went into office in this country carrying better
wished for its success than the Greenfield government. The people
of Alberta looked forward to an era of better administration than
it had ever had. But before one year had passed they knew that they
were to be disappointed. The high protestations evaporated. The
fine ideas were lacking and there is now this climax, this scene
of a power-seeking party thrusting all the blame for its misdeeds
upon one man, making him the sacrificial goat.
Greenfield was not a good political captain, but he had a poor
set of officers and a mutinous crew.