In honour of my new position as junior researcher at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, I thought it would be fitting to present Frank Oliver as the first candidate for this year's historical moustache tour. Between 1905 and 1911, Mr. Oliver was the Minister of the Interior, which at that time made him responsible for the regulation of immigration. He accomplished many significant things during his time as a politician, including the growth of a magnificent moustache.
Although the hair grows gray...
...the moustache stays the same
Frank Oliver started his career as journalist, training in Toronto and Winnipeg before settling in Edmonton in 1880. Once there, Oliver founded the Edmonton Bulletin, which became the first newspaper in what would later become Alberta. Apparently running the newspaper didn't keep Oliver busy enough so he decided to try his hand at politics, first as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories and then as a Liberal Member of Parliament. In 1905, Oliver became the Minister of the Interior under Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, overseeing significant changes to Canada's immigration policy.
Shortly after assuming his new position, Oliver laid out plans to make immigration policy more restrictive. Unlike his predecessor Clifford Sifton (who had a respectable moustache himself), Oliver did not favour the unregulated flow of immigrants into the country for the sake of filling the prairies with farmers. This open-door policy led to the immigration of many Eastern Europeans and there was public concern they would not assimilate to Canada's Anglo-Saxon norms. Oliver was a staunch supporter of the British and made it known that the most desirable immigrants were of British and American origin. The Immigration Acts of 1906 and 1910 drafted under Oliver reflected this hierarchical preference for certain immigrants as they greatly expanded the prohibited classes of immigrants.
As biased as I am toward immigration history, Oliver did not devote all his time as minister to crafting immigration policy. Or to growing his moustache. When hot springs were discovered in a little place called Banff, Alberta, Oliver led the effort to have the area set aside for the people of Canada, leading to the creation of Canada's first national park. He also played an important part in influencing the powers that be to make Edmonton the capital of the new province of Alberta rather than Calgary. Perhaps it is our friend with the fine follicles that is responsible for initiating the friendly feud between these two fair Alberta cities.
Check back soon for more delightfully moustached men.