Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Remembering Calgary’s Irish-born Councillors

Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held March 17 in honour of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

To celebrate, we’re taking a trip back in time to visit some famous City Council members. Their stories are fascinating: a man elected mayor eight times, the founder of Riley & McCormick, a woman elected into Council in 1936 for three consecutive terms, and an Alderman who landed himself in jail for his beliefs.

Read more about Calgary’s Irish-born Councillors below, information courtesy of The City's Corporate Record’s Archives.

Andrew Davison

Andrew Davison
City of Calgary Alderman, 1922 - 1926
City of Calgary Alderman, 1929
City of Calgary Mayor, 1930 - 1945

In 1921, Mr. Davison was elected to Calgary City Council as a Labour Alderman. After serving four terms as Alderman from 1922 to 1926 and in 1929, he was elected Mayor. He was re-elected Mayor another seven times, serving a total of sixteen years as the City's Chief Magistrate, a record unequalled before or since. During his term the ambitious and controversial Glenmore Dam water system was completed, as well as additions to the General Hospital. He is also credited with sound management of The City's finances during the Great Depression.

Eneas Edward McCormick

Eneas Edward McCormick
City of Calgary Alderman, 1925 - 1930

Does Mr. McCormick’s name sound familiar? It should. In 1902 he and W.J. Riley founded Riley & McCormick Limited. Over the 45 years that he was president of the company, he served on many boards. He rode in the first Stampede Parade in 1912 and was an associate director for the Stampede from 1913 – 1944. He also served as the ‘model’ for the Boer War Monument which still stands in Calgary’s Central Memorial Park. McCormick served three consecutive two-year term

s as an Alderman on City Council. For part of that time he was the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of Council.

Rosamond Elizabeth Owens Wilkinson

Rosamond Elizabeth Owens Wilkinson
City of Calgary Alderman, 1936 - 1943
City of Calgary Alderman, 1944 - 1951
City of Calgary Alderman, 1952 - 1955

After studying nursing in England, Rosamond Wilkinson immigrated to the United States to be with her brother. She met and married her husband and moved to Saskatchewan. In 1927, they moved to Calgary. In 1935, Mrs. Wilkinson elected to City Council. She was re-elected for continuous two-year terms through to 1955. Upon her retirement from Council, a civic banquet and public reception were held in her honour, which was highly unusual for civic politicians. She also served as a social credit MLA from 1944 to 1963.

Patrick Denis Lenihan
Patrick Denis Lenihan
City of Calgary Alderman, 1939 - 1940

Patrick Lenihan came to Canada in 1922 and worked at various jobs across the country before arriving in Calgary in 1931. In 1932 he spent a year in jail for union activities. A self-avowed Communist, he was elected to Council in 1938 for a two-year term. Alderman Lenihan was the only acknowledged Communist to ever hold office. In his capacity as Alderman, he welcomed King George VI and Queen Mary upon their arrival in Calgary during their Royal Tour in 1939. Controversial and politically outspoken, Mr. Lenihan was charged with sedition (the crime of saying, writing, or doing something that encourages people to disobey their government) during the 1930s, but was later acquitted. On June 11, 1940, he was arrested by the RCMP for his opposition to the war, and interned at a camp in Kananaskis until his release in 1942. After his release, Lenihan was worked with The City in Parks & Recreation Department. He became the President of the Civic Employees Union (CEU). He founded the NUPE (National Union of Public Employees) which was the predecessor of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees).

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