George H.V. Bulyea - 1st Lieutenant Governor of Alberta

l to r: George H.V. Bulyea, Governor General Lord Strathcona, Premier Alexander Rutherford

George H.V. Bulyea became the first Lieutenant Governor of Alberta in a ceremony held in Edmonton on September 1, 1905. John J. McGee, Clerk of Privy Council in Ottawa, administered the Lieutenant Governor's oath of office and then read the proclamation from King Edward VII which declared Alberta a Province. 

At 45, Hon. Bulyea was the youngest person ever appointed to that position. He served as Lieutenant Governor until October 20, 1915.

Contributions to Alberta's early history

George Bulyea spent many years serving the territorial and provincial governments and played an important role in the early history of the Province of Alberta.

He was elected to the Northwest Territories Assembly for the electoral district of South Qu'Appelle in 1894. In 1897, he became a Member of the first Executive Council of the Northwest Territories which administered the affairs of the area that is now  Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory. He was re-elected in 1897, 1989 and 1902. He served as a Special Commissioner to the Territories,  Administrator of Territorial Affairs in the Yukon, Commissioner of Agriculture, Territorial Secretary and Commissioner of Public Works.

Along with Frederick W.A.G. Haultain, Bulyea represented the territorial government in the negotiations with the federal government on the issue of provincial status.

(photo caption: l to r: G.H.V. Bulyea, Governor General Lord Strathcona, Premier Alexander Rutherford.)

Notable facts

Lieutenant Governor Bulyea's first official act was to select the Province' interim Premier to serve until the first provincial general election. On September 2, 1905, he named Alexander C. Rutherford, leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, to the interim post.  The Liberals won the election on November 9, 1905 and Rutherford became Premier.

On November 24, 1905, at the train station in Edmonton, Hon. Bulyea drove the silver spike which held in place the first rail of the Canadian Northern Railway.

On March 15, 1906, Lieutenant Governor Bulyea read Alberta's first Speech from the Throne to open the First Session of the First Legislature in Alberta.  As the Legislature Building had not yet been completed, the event was held in Edmonton Thistle Rink curling club, at the time the only building in town large enough to accommodate the 3,000 people who attended. 

Lieutenant Governor Bulyea organized the first competitive music festival in Alberta. It took place in May 1908.

In 1910, Lieutenant Governor George H.V. Bulyea presided over the resignation of Premier A.C. Rutherford following a controversy that arose over loan guarantees and oversight for the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway. With two rival factions in the Liberal government caucus promote different candidates, Bulyea resolved the conflict by passing over both candidates and naming Chief Justice Arthur Sifton as Rutherford's successor.

The Bulyea's became the first residents of Government House, which was built to serve as the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor. The Edmonton house was official opened on October 7, 1913. A strict teetotaler, Hon. Bulyea never served alcohol at Government House events. 

With the outbreak of the First World War, Hon. Bulyea became heavily involved in the Canadian Patriotic Fund, which was formed to raise financial support for families of service men. He was an original member of the organization and contributed a portion of his salary to the Fund for the duration of the war.

Following his service as Lieutenant Governor, he was appointed Chairman of Alberta's Board of Public Utilities and held the position until 1923.

Biographical notes

George Hedley Vicars Bulyea was born on February 17, 1859, at Gagetown, Queen's County, New Brunswick. He was the son of James Albert Bulyea and Jane Blizzard. The Bulyeas were prosperous farmers. The Bulyea family, who were Loyalists,  came to New Brunswick from New York in July 1783, at the close of the American Revolutionary War.

George Bulyea was educated at the Gagetown Grammar School and graduated from the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, in 1878, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was first in his class with honors in mathematics and French.

On January 29, 1885, he married Annie Blanche Babbit, the second daughter of R.T. Babbit, Registrar of Queen's County, New Brunswick. They had one son, Percy, who died at the age of fifteen. The Bulyeas were members of the Baptist church.

George Bulyea taught school from 1878 to 1882, serving as Principal of Sheffield Grammar School, Sunbury County, New Brunswick. At various times, he was also a professional surveyor and undertaker. In 1892, he moved to western Canada, settling in Winnipeg for a year. In 1893, he moved to Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, which was then located in the District of Assiniboia, Northwest Territories. Here he engaged in the furniture, flour, and feed businesses until 1907. He also wrote an official handbook regarding the Northwest Territories.

The Bulyeas spent their retirement years in B.C. where they owned a four hectare fruit orchard and summer home. Hon. Bulyea died on July 22, 1928, at Peachland, British Columbia, and was buried in the Qu'Appelle Cemetery at Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan.