A moment in history: June 19, 1967

A moment in history: June 19, 1967

· The Pulse

On this day in 1967, Grant MacEwan, Alberta's lieutenant governor at the time, presided over a fictitious citizenship ceremony for 300 Boy Scouts.

MacEwan was born in 1902 on a farm near Brandon, Manitoba. Despite being inextricably tied to the history of Alberta, MacEwan didn't move to the province until his late 40s. Before that, he spent decades in academia in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan, then ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat as a member of Parliament for Manitoba under the Liberal Party in 1951. MacEwan moved to Calgary soon after.

He found more success in Alberta politics. From 1953 to 1963, MacEwan served as a Calgary alderman, and then as mayor of the city from 1963 to 1965. During the same time, MacEwan was also a provincial politician. In 1955, he was elected as an MLA, under the Alberta Liberal Party, and then went on to become the party's leader in 1958. MacEwan led the Liberals to a stunning loss in the 1959 provincial election. While MacEwan was personally popular, his party wasn't. The election ended with the Liberals receiving just one seat and MacEwan losing his own to his Social Credit opponent.

But it wasn't just politics that captured MacEwan's attention. He was a prolific writer, with a heavy focus on the history of Western Canada. His first historical book, The Sodbusters, was published in 1948. It was the first of almost 50 historical books he wrote over his life, continuing all the way to his death in 2000.

MacEwan was appointed lieutenant governor of the province in 1966, a post he held for the next eight years. In the role, MacEwan became known for being a vocal environmentalist, especially about wildlife and waterways. He also had a reputation for being down to earth. For example, the position often had MacEwan travel between Edmonton and Calgary by bus. And on these trips, MacEwan stayed at the YMCA while in Edmonton.

The YMCA was also his accommodation when he visited the community college named after him. Grant MacEwan Community College was established in 1971. It originally offered certificates and diplomas. Rather than having one central location, the college operated a handful of small locations in leased buildings in Strathcona, downtown, and Cromdale.

In 1988, the provincial government invested $100 million to construct a central campus for the college in downtown Edmonton, on the site of a former railyard donated by CN Rail. Over the years, the institution has consolidated at the downtown campus. The downtown campus has gone through several waves of expansion, too. It now stretches along the north side of 104 Avenue from 105 Street to 112 Street.

In 2004, the college was accredited to award bachelor's degrees. And in 2009, it became Alberta's sixth university, eventually rebranding as MacEwan University. The institution now boasts just more than 18,000 students, who are enrolled in dozens of degree and diploma programs. The university is currently in the midst of another major expansion — plans are underway to construct a new school of business, which is expected to open in 2027.

This clipping was found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse of @VintageEdmonton.