As well as being Alberta's first Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable George H.V. Bulyea was the youngest person ever appointed to that position. He spent many years in the service of the territorial and provincial governments and played an important role in the early history of the Province of Alberta.
George Hedley Vicars Bulyea was born on February 17, 1859, at Gagetown, Queen's County, New Brunswick. He was the son of James Albert Bulyea and Jane Blizzard. The Bulyeas were prosperous farmers. George H.V. Bulyea was a Baptist.
He was educated at the Gagetown Grammar School and graduated from the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, in 1878, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was first in his class with honors in mathematics and French.
On January 29, 1885, he married Annie Blanche Babbit, the second daughter of R.T. Babbit, Registrar of Queen's County, New Brunswick. They had one son, Percy, who died at the age of fifteen.
George H.V. Bulyea taught school from 1878 to 1882, serving as Principal of Sheffield Grammar School, Sunbury County, New Brunswick. At various times, he was also a professional surveyor and undertaker. In 1892, he moved to western Canada, settling in Winnipeg for a year. In 1893, he moved to Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, which was then located in the District of Assiniboia, Northwest Territories. Here he engaged in the furniture, flour, and feed businesses until 1907. He also wrote an official handbook regarding the Northwest Territories.
In 1891, he ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Northwest Territories Assembly for the electoral district of South Qu'Appelle. However, he was successful on his second attempt at the general territorial election of 1894. On October 7, 1897, he became a Member of the first Executive Council of the Northwest Territories which administered the affairs of the area that presently comprises Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon. He was reelected by acclamation at a by-election on October 26,1897. In 1898, he was appointed Special Commissioner to the Territories, serving in that capacity until the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created in 1905. During the period 1898 to 1905, he also served as Administrator of Territorial Affairs in the Yukon for one year. He was reelected to the Northwest Territories Assembly at the general election of 1898 and again, by acclamation, in 1902. George H.V. Bulyea was appointed Commissioner of Agriculture and Territorial Secretary in the Haultain government on January 12, 1899, relinquishing the agriculture portfolio in February, 1903, to become Commissioner of Public Works. Along with Frederick W.A.G. Haultain, he represented the territorial government in the negotiations with Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the federal Cabinet on the issue of provincial status.
On the advice of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, George H.V. Bulyea was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Alberta effective September 1, 1905, the date that Alberta became a province. This appointment was made by Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada. During George H.V. Bulyea's period of service as Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, his Secretaries were G.H. Babbit and A.C. Gillespie.
In 1910, Lieutenant Governor George H.V. Bulyea presided over the resignation of Premier A.C. Rutherford following the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway issue. He passed over the candidates of two rival factions in the Liberal government's caucus to promote, and finally name, Alberta's Chief Justice Arthur Sifton as Rutherford's successor. This decisive action helped put matters to rest.
The Lieutenant Governor also played a sensitive role in the internal politics of the provincial Liberal Party. The dynamics of federal and provincial political parties were not as clearly delineated then as they are today. The selection of such a prominent Liberal and an active political figure for the first Lieutenant Governor suggests that Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier expected that George H.V. Bulyea would play an assertive role in developing the politics of the new Province. However, the role of the Office has since evolved into a non-partisan and largely symbolic position. George H.V. Bulyea was appointed Lieutenant Governor for a second term and continued to serve in that capacity until his successor was appointed effective October 20, 1915. Following his service as Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable George H.V. Bulyea was appointed Chairman of Alberta's Board of Public Utilities on November 20, 1915.
In 1908, George H.V. Bulyea received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Alberta and the University of New Brunswick. While living in Edmonton, he was a member of the Edmonton Club and the Edmonton Golf and Country Club.
He died on July 22, 1928, at Peachland, British Columbia, and was buried in the Qu'Appelle Cemetery at Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan.