As you tour the house you will notice in the Senator’s study the framed documents and medal which indicate the Senator’s prestigious award (#14).
Senator James Lougheed was made Chairman of the Military Hospitals Commission in 1915, which involved the care of the many returning injured Canadian soldiers from the battles of WW1. (This would later be called Veterans’ Affairs). For his service, he was awarded a knighthood, the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by King George V, and thus was entitled to be called Sir James Lougheed and his wife Lady Isabella.
As an historic interpreter, I like to point out that he is the only Albertan so honoured to date. It is unlikely that there will be another such honour for any Canadian as the receipt of titles by Canadian citizens has been the subject of debate since 1917 when Conservative MP William Folger Nickle brought forward a motion in the House of Commons calling for an address to be made to King George V requesting that he no longer grand hereditary peerages and knighthoods to Canadians and that all such titles held by Canadians expire upon their deaths. It was passed by the House of Commons and came to be known as the Nickle Resolution. The rationale was that in a true democracy all citizens are equal. It was not forwarded to the Senate for ratification for fear of it being defeated so it never became law. It has, however, been followed by most Prime Ministers, with the exception of James Lougheed’s former law partner, the Honourable R. B. Bennett who in the early 1930s recommended a few individuals such as Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin, be knighted. In 1938 Bennett moved to England and was awarded the title of Viscount, as was the British practice for former Prime Ministers – he remains the only Canadian PM to do this.
You may recall the more recent contention between Conrad Black and PM Jean Chrétien in the 1970s. Black held dual British and Canadian citizenship and the British wished to honour him with a life peerage. Chrétien, in line with the Nickle Resolution, wouldn’t allow it and the decision was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Black renounced his Canadian citizenship and became Sir Conrad Black. Following his conviction in 2007 in the US for fraud and obstruction of justice and subsequent jail sentence, it is unlikely he will ever again be a Canadian citizen as his application would undoubtedly be denied because of his criminal record. Despite his criminal record, he can still be called Baron Black of Coalharbour and take his seat in the House of Lords in London.
Canada has adopted the Order of Canada as a way of honouring citizens for exemplarly service and had this been the practice when Sir James was knighted, I am confident he would have been a recipient – as was his grandson, former premier Peter Lougheed. Peter was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1986 – the second-highest award granted to Canadian citizens. The highest is the Order of Merit, which is a personal gift of Canada’s monarch. The only Canadian to currently hold that honour is Jean Chrétien.
-Bill, Historical Interpreter