As well as having been Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, The Honourable J. W. Grant MacEwan was well-known as an agriculturalist and historian. He was also active in municipal and provincial politics.
John Walter Grant MacEwan was born on August 12, 1902, on a farm near Brandon, Manitoba. He was the son of Alexander H. MacEwan and Bertha Grant.
J.W. Grant MacEwan attended public school in Brandon, Manitoba, and Melfort, Saskatchewan. He studied at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from the University of Toronto in 1926, and in 1928, received a Master of Science degree from Iowa State College.
On July 26, 1935, J.W. Grant MacEwan married Phyllis W. Cline, daughter of Vernon Cline of Churchbridge, Saskatchewan. Mrs. MacEwan died on October 12, 1990. J.W. Grant MacEwan had one daughter, Heather, from this marriage.
From 1928 to 1946, J.W. Grant MacEwan was Professor of Animal Husbandry and Director of the School of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. From 1946 to 1951, he was Dean of Agriculture and Home Economics at the University of Manitoba. During his career as an agriculturalist, he was Associate Editor of the Canadian Cattleman, Agricultural Editor of The Western Producer, and a contributor to the Farm and Ranch Review. Beginning in 1936, he wrote a large number of books and articles that dealt primarily with agriculture and western Canadian history. A list of his works can be accessed here.
In 1951, J.W. Grant MacEwan was an unsuccessful candidate at the federal by-election for the Brandon electoral district. He was a Calgary Alderman from 1953 to 1958 and served as Mayor of the same city from 1963 to 1965. He was elected the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the multi-Member electoral district of Calgary in 1955, was appointed Leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta in 1958, and resigned from this position in 1960, following that party's defeat in the 1959 election.
On the advice of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, J.W. Grant MacEwan was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Alberta effective January 6, 1966. This appointment was made by General Georges-Philéas Vanier, Governor General of Canada. He was reappointed for a second term and continued to serve as Lieutenant Governor until his successor was appointed effective July 2, 1974. During his service as Lieutenant Governor, J.W. Grant MacEwan's Secretaries were Captain Gordon A. Johnston and M. Patricia Halligan.
J.W. Grant MacEwan served as Chairman of the Calgary Community Foundation and President of the Men's Canadian Club of Calgary. In 1976, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and was named Chairman of the Board in 1978. J.W. Grant MacEwan has received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the Universities of Alberta (1966), Calgary (1967), Brandon (1969), Guelph (1972), and Saskatchewan (1974); was awarded the Order of Canada (1975); was the recipient of the Governor General's Conservation Award (1985); and was the first person to receive the Premier's Award For Excellence (1985). An Edmonton university and an elementary school in Calgary are named in his honor.
J.W. Grant MacEwan died on June 15, 2000 at Calgary, Alberta. A lying-in-state was held in the Rotunda of the Legislature Building on June 20, 2000. He received a state funeral at Robertson-Wesley United Church in Edmonton, Alberta on June 20, 2000 and was buried in the Union Cemetery in Calgary.