A look back at the municipal elections of 1913

Another set of municipal elections is now upon us as Red Deer’s voters contemplate for whom they will vote on election day on Oct. 21.

There are no shortages of choices with five candidates for the position of mayor, 30 for City Council, 14 for Public School Board and seven hoping to be elected to the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division.

One big change with this election is that the new terms for the mayor, councilors and school trustees will be four years long whereas in the recent past, the terms were only for three years.

The system was quite different 100 years ago when Red Deer held its first municipal elections after being incorporated as a City.

Municipal elections were held every year and on the first Monday in December, not the third Monday in October.

However, City councilors and school trustees were elected to two-year terms, so only half of City council and the school boards were up for re-election each year.

There was a big change with the 1913 elections.

For the first time in Red Deer’s history, all women were given the right to vote, whereas previously, unmarried women and widows could vote, but not married women.

Nomination Day was held one week before the election, not one month ahead as it is today.

In 1913, Mayor Francis Galbraith, somewhat fatigued from all his successful work in getting Red Deer incorporated as a City, decided to step down.

Councilor Stan Carscallen, of the large real estate and development company, Michener Carscallen, decided to run to replace Galbraith.

Carscallen was opposed by H.G. Stone, a respected member of the community and the local undertaker.

There were six candidates for the four open positions on City council. Surprisingly, the only incumbent to stand for re-election was Councilor Bill Botterill.

There was an almost complete turnover on the school boards as well.

On the Saturday between nomination and election days, the municipal annual general meeting was held. It gave a chance for the outgoing council to reflect on what they considered to be their successes in the past year and to let the new candidates give an indication of what they planned to do if elected.

At the 1913 annual meeting, there was a lot of mention made of the installation of concrete sidewalks in the downtown area, the expansion of the water and sewer systems into the new residential areas and the extensive graveling and grading of streets.

One significant problem, which was acknowledged, was the very high level of municipal debt that had been incurred.

An attempt to sell debentures to cover all the capital expenditures had not gone well, despite the offering of a higher than average interest rate.

Consequently, the City found itself in the dangerous situation of relying on its bank overdraft for some of its operational expenses.

On election day, Stan Carscallen was overwhelmingly elected as mayor. Incumbent councilor Bill Botterill topped the polls and was joined by newcomers J.T. Watson of the local private power company and W.T. Coote, a local storeowner.

M.A. Munro, Dr. C.W. Sanders and William Robertson were elected as public school trustees, but there were very few votes separating all of the candidates.

The Catholic school board candidates, on the other hand, were all elected by acclamation.

There was another hot race in the Village of North Red Deer, which was a separate municipality at the time.

Mayor Percy Kent managed to get himself re-elected.

However, two newcomers, Emile Hermary and Charles Snell, were also successful. The other incumbents were defeated, largely over a strong debate as to how to pay for a new manual sewage removal system (called scavenging at the time and involving the use of what was nicknamed the ‘honey wagon.’)

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