The Honourable Edgar Dewdney served as Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 and his even-handed response to this crisis is often credited with preventing a general Native uprising. As well, he presided over the removal of the territorial capital from Battleford to Regina. During his term of office, Edgar Dewdney always felt that his principal responsibility was Native affairs.
Edgar Dewdney was born in Devonshire, England, in 1835. Following his education in England as a civil engineer, he emigrated to British Columbia in 1859 when that province was still a British colony.
In 1864, he married Jane Shaw Moir, the eldest daughter of Stratton Moir, a tea plantation owner from Colombo, Ceylon. They had no children. Following the death of his first wife, Edgar Dewdney married Blanche Kemeys-Tynte, daughter of Colonel Charles John Kemeys-Tynte of Halswell, Somersetshire, England, in 1909.
Edgar Dewdney worked in British Columbia as a railway surveyor for many years. He supervised the survey of New Westminster and, in 1865, was appointed by Governor Frederick Seymour to survey and build a trail to the interior in order to control the growth of gold mining in that area.
Edgar Dewdney then entered colonial politics, representing the electoral district of Kootenay in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia from 1868 to 1869. Following the entry of British Columbia into the Canadian confederation, he sat as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Yale from 1872 to 1879 and supported Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald during the "Pacific Scandal."* Edgar Dewdney was appointed Indian Commissioner for the Northwest Territories shortly after Sir John A. Macdonald's return to office and served in that capacity from 1879 to 1888.
On the advice of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, Edgar Dewdney was appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories effective December 3, 1881. This appointment was made by the Marquis of Lorne, Governor General of Canada. Although his term of office was over on December 3, 1886, he continued to serve as Lieutenant Governor until his successor was appointed effective July 1, 1888.
After completing his service as Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories, Edgar Dewdney ran as the Conservative candidate for the electoral district of Assiniboia East, was elected, and served as its Member of Parliament from 1888 to 1891. As well, he served as the Minister of the Interior and Superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1888 to 1892. His experience as Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories made him sensitive to emerging territorial aspirations, and this sensitivity facilitated the development of responsible government in that area.
Edgar Dewdney also served as a Lieutenant Governor of the Province of British Columbia from 1892 to 1897. In 1900, he ran unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate for the electoral district of New Westminster and then retired from politics, working as a mining broker and financial agent in Victoria.
He was a member of the Rideau Club, Ottawa.
Edgar Dewdney died on August 8, 1916, at Victoria, British Columbia, and was buried in the Ross Bay Cemetery in that city.
*"Pacific Scandal" - On April 2, 1873, a member of the Liberal Opposition charged the Macdonald government with having awarded the contract for the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway to Sir Hugh Allan in return for contributions to the Conservative Party.