Family Ties in the Saskatchewan Legislature

Article 1 / 14 , Vol 43 No 3 (Autumn)

Family Ties in the Saskatchewan Legislature

Since the establishment of the Province of Saskatchewan in 1905, there have been 20 known instances of familial relationships among Members of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. Table 1 presents a full list of kinship ties. Types of kinship have included: fathers and sons, a mother and son, husbands and wives, brothers, a father and daughter, a brother and sister, a grandmother and grandson, a grandfather and grandson, and an uncle and nephew. Other interesting observations of the kinship ties include:

  • In 1919 Sarah K. Ramsland not only became the first female to be elected to the Legislative Assembly, but she also became the first and only wife to immediately succeed her husband, as her husband Magnus died in office as the Member for Pelly and she won the subsequent by-election in that constituency. Though re-elected in the General Election of 1921, she was defeated in her bid for re-election in 1925.
  • The Ramslands do not represent the only occasion of one family member immediately succeeding another. Benjamin Heppner was elected to the constituency of Rosthern in 1995 and 1999, and then to the new constituency of Martensville in 2003. After his death in September 2006, his daughter Nancy ran in and won the subsequent Martensville by-election in March 2007. She was re-elected in the following three General Elections.
  • On three separate occasions family members have served concurrently in the Legislative Assembly. Fathers and sons Oakland W. Valleau and Delmar S. Valleau served together as MLAs from 1944-48; John H. Brockelbank and John E. Brockelbank from 1964-67, and brothers Edward H. Walker and Robert A. Walker from 1951-56.
  • The political leanings of related members have differed only three times. Dennis M. Ham was elected in 1975 as a Progressive Conservative while his sister Lynda M. Haverstock was elected 1991 as a Liberal, later sitting as an Independent. William M. Martin was elected in 1916 as a Liberal while his nephew Gordon B. Martin (1986) was Progressive Conservative. Finally, W. Ross Thatcher was elected as a Liberal in 1960 as was his son Colin in 1975, though Colin was re-elected in 1977 as a Progressive Conservative.
  • There has been one known instance of three generations of a family serving in the Legislative Assembly. Tony Merchant was an MLA from 1975-1978, his mother Sally Merchant from 1964–1967, and his grandfather Vincent Smith from 1934–1938.
  • In addition to kinship relationships in the Saskatchewan Legislature, there are also cases of kinship between elected officials at the provincial level and the federal level, as outlined in Table 2.
  • Joseph W. Burton was elected as the MLA for Humboldt in 1938-1943, then as the Member of Parliament for Humboldt from 1943-1949 (returning to provincial politics as the representative for the same constituency from 1952-1956). His son John S. Burton was elected to the House of Commons as the member for the Regina East electoral district in 1968 and served as such until his defeat in the 1972 federal election.
  • Pana P. Merchant was the second woman to represent Saskatchewan in the Senate, serving from 2002-2017; her husband is Tony Merchant, the member for the provincial constituency of Regina Wascana from 1975-1978.

Table 1: Familial Relationships in the Saskatchewan Legislature

Family Members

First Elected

First Constituency Represented

Party

Fathers and Sons

Brockelbank, John H.

1938

Tisdale

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation1

Brockelbank, John E.

1964

Saskatoon City

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

Embury, Alan W.

1944

Area 2 (Mediterranean Sea)

Active Service Voters2

Embury, Timothy B.

1982

Regina Lakeview

Progressive Conservative

Gardiner, James G.

1914

North Qu’Appelle

Liberal

Gardiner, James W.

1956

Melville

Liberal

MacNutt, Thomas

1905

Saltcoats

Liberal

MacNutt, Thomas R.

1952

Nipawin

Liberal

Marion, A. Jules

1926

Ile a la Crosse

Liberal

Marion, Louis M.

1944

Athabasca

Liberal / Independent

Merriman, Ted

2003

Saskatoon Northwest

Saskatchewan Party3

Merriman, Paul

2011

Saskatoon Sutherland

Saskatchewan Party

Thatcher, W. Ross

1960

Morse

Liberal

Thatcher, W. Colin

1975

Thunder Creek

Liberal / Progressive Conservative

Valleau, Oakland W.

1938

Melfort

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

Valleau, Delmar S.

1944

Area 1 (Great Britain)

Active Service Voters

Mother and Son

Merchant, Sally M.A.

1964

Saskatoon City

Liberal

Merchant, Tony

1975

Regina Wascana

Liberal

Husbands and Wives

Ramsland, Magnus O.

1917

Pelly

Liberal

Ramsland, Sarah K.

1919

Pelly

Liberal

Young, Kimberly J.

1982

Saskatoon Eastview

Progressive Conservative

Young, Colleen L.

2014

Lloydminster

Saskatchewan Party

Brothers

Carlson, Irving

1971

Yorkton

New Democratic Party

Carlson, Evan

1991

Melville

New Democratic Party

Walker, Edward H.

1951

Gravelbourg

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

Walker, Robert A.

1948

Hanley

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

Father and Daughter

Heppner, Benjamin D.

1995

Rosthern

Progressive Conservative / Saskatchewan Party

Heppner, Nancy

2007

Martensville

Saskatchewan Party

Smith, Vincent R.

1934

Yorkton

Liberal

Merchant, Sally M.A.

1964

Saskatoon City

Liberal

Brother and Sister

Ham, Dennis M.

1975

Swift Current

Progressive Conservative / Unionist

Haverstock, Lynda M.

1991

Saskatoon Greystone

Liberal / Independent

Grandmother and Grandson

Trew, Beatrice J.

1944

Maple Creek

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

Trew, Kim D.

1986

Regina North

New Democratic Party

Grandfather and Grandson

Broten, Hans A.

1960

Watrous

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

Broten, Cam

2007

Saskatoon Massey Place

New Democratic Party

Smith, Vincent R.

1934

Yorkton

Liberal

Merchant, Tony

1975

Regina Wascana

Liberal

Uncle and Nephew

Martin, William M.

1916

Regina City

Liberal

Martin, Gordon B.

1986

Regina Wascana

Progressive Conservative

 

Table 2: Familial Relationships in the Saskatchewan Legislature and Canadian Parliament

 

Family Members

First Elected / Appointed

Representing

Party

Father and Son

Burton, Joseph W.

1938

Humboldt
(Saskatchewan Leg.)

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

1943

Humboldt
(House of Commons)

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation

Burton, John S.

1968

Regina East
(House of Commons)

New Democratic Party

Husband and Wife

Merchant, Tony

1975

Regina Wascana (Saskatchewan Leg.)

Liberal

Merchant, Pana P.

2002

Region Member – Saskatchewan (Senate)

Liberal

Sources:

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan Executive and Legislative Directory: Members of the Legislative Assembly. Regina: The Archives, 2019. https://www.saskarchives.com/sites/default/files/pdf/2019_members_of_leg_assembly.pdf Accessed June 2020.

Saskatchewan. Legislative Library. Family Relationships in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly and/or the Canadian House of Commons and Senate. Regina: The Library, 2020. [internal document compiled from published information sources].

Notes

1 The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation was the forerunner to the New Democratic Party.

2 Active Service Voters’ Representatives represented members of the Canadian armed services on active duty in Great Britain from 1944 to 1948.

3 The Saskatchewan Party was established in 1997 by a coalition of former provincial Progressive Conservative and Liberal party members and supporters.