The Honourable Harry E. Strom, 1968-71
The Honourable Harry E. Strom was the first Premier of Alberta who was born in the Province.
Harry Edwin Strom was born on July 7, 1914, at Burdett, Alberta. He was the son of Nils H. Strom and Elna O. M. Ekensteen and was a member of the Evangelical Free Church.
Harry E. Strom was educated at Ballman and Burdett Public Schools, East Calgary High School. He later attended the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA), in Calgary, from which he received a certificate in 1931. That same year, following the death of his father, he returned to Burdett to assist his mother in the operation of the family farm.
On October 27, 1938, Harry Edwin Strom married Ruth Johnson of Bow Island. They had six children: Howard, Faith, Beverly, Brian, Ronald, and Arlene.
In addition to farming, Harry Strom was active in community affairs. In 1943, he was elected a Councillor for the Municipal District of Forty Mile. He was also a member of local school boards. In addition, he held the following positions: director, Forty Mile Rural Electrification Association; president, Burdett Home and School Association; and president, Agricultural Improvement Association of Burdett.
As well as his numerous community activities, he took an active role in his church. Until 1962, the family attended the Evangelical Free Church in Bow Island where he served, at various times, as a Sunday School teacher, deacon, and chair of the Board. He also held the office of chair of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada. One of his deep commitments was to the Overseas Missions Board of the Evangelical Free Church of America on which he served faithfully for 20 years.
Harry E. Strom ran as the Social Credit candidate for the electoral district of Cypress in the provincial general election of June 29, 1955, and was elected. He was re-elected in 1959, 1963, 1967, and 1971. Between 1962 and 1968, he served as Minister of Agriculture and, during the last six months of 1968, he served as Minister of Municipal Affairs. As well, in 1967, he was appointed the first chair of the Alberta Human Resources Development Authority.
While he was Minister of Agriculture, the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba reached a consensus regarding proportionate shares of Alberta Eastern Slopes water resources. This interest in water management extended to irrigation, as well. Engineering and economic studies were initiated which resulted in a program of financial support to rehabilitate the structures and works of the irrigation districts and the establishment of cost-sharing arrangements with water users and the federal government.
When Premier Ernest C. Manning resigned as leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party in 1968, Harry E. Strom was elected to replace him on December 6, 1968, at a Social Credit convention held in Edmonton. Effective December 12, 1968, Harry E. Strom was appointed Premier of Alberta by Lieutenant Governor J. W. Grant MacEwan.
During Harry E. Strom's tenure as Premier, the provincial government of Alberta took several social and environmental initiatives. In 1970, the Alberta Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Commission and the Environment Conservation Authority were established. In 1971, Canada's first Department of the Environment was created and a new Department of Health and Social Development was organized.
In the provincial general election of 1971, Alberta's Social Credit Government was defeated. Harry E. Strom, who had been reelected in that election, resigned as Premier on September 10, 1971, and subsequently served as Leader of the Official Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1971 to 1972. He resigned as leader of the Social Credit Party in 1972.
In 1975, Harry E. Strom left politics and returned to farming and his work with the Evangelical Free Church. He devoted much of his time to the Ministry of the Hope Mission in Edmonton. He served on the Board of Directors and was chair of the Building Committee of that organization.
In recognition for his service to the Province of Alberta, Harry E. Strom received Honourary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Calgary (1969), the University of Lethbridge (1979), and the University of Alberta (1982).
On October 2, 1984, Harry Edwin Strom died in Edmonton and was buried in the Chapel Lawn Cemetery in Medicine Hat, Alberta.