Book cover image for: Eric J. Hanson’s Financial History of Alberta, 1905-1950

Eric J. Hanson's Financial History of Alberta, 1905-1950

Edited by Paul Boothe and Heather Edwards

$49.95 CAD / $49.95 USD (S)

455 pages, 168 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

978-1-55238-090-1 (Hardback)

978-1-55238-333-9 (Institutional PDF)

September 2003

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About the Book

A forgotten early gem of Alberta economic history presented for the first time, chronicling the perennial problems facing Alberta’s fiscal managers with detailed analysis and uncommon insight.

Eric Hanson was Alberta’s first, and arguably greatest, economist wrote a number of influential books on federal-provincial relations, education finance, health care finance, and energy economics. In 1949, he took a leave from the University of Alberta, where he was a lecturer, to write his PhD at Clark University in Worchester, Massachusetts. His doctoral thesis was entitled A Financial History of Alberta, 1905-1950, and was found by Paul Boothe at the University of Alberta library while Boothe was doing research on Alberta government spending almost forty-five years after it was written.

Upon reading the thesis, Boothe quickly became aware of the enormous value of Hanson’s work as a source of data and as a chronicle of Alberta’s history. This forgotten gem sheds light on the institutional, economic, and public development of the province from a financial perspective and documents many of the early financial decisions of the Alberta government, including the railway scandal, the rise of Social Credit, and the province’s default in the Great Depression.

With a detailed and analytical introduction, this edited work provides historical perspective on the perennial problems facing Alberta’s fiscal managers: wildly fluctuating revenues, in-migration, seemingly insatiable demands for infrastructure, high-quality public services, and resistance to taxes while exuding an optimistic attitude for the future. Providing institutional, political, and social background needed to better understand current institutions, political choices, and societal biases and anxieties, this book should be required reading for present-day policy-makers, elected provincial officials, teachers, and students of public finance.

About the Editors

Paul Boothe is author of numerous books, articles, and monographs, including The Growth of Government Spending in Alberta and, recently, Deficit Reduction in the Far West. He teaches in the Department of Economics at the University of Alberta and is a fellow of the Institute for Public Economics and the C.D. Howe Institute.

Heather Edwards holds a BA in English and Political Science from the University of Alberta and an MA from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

Praise for Eric J. Hanson’s Financial History of Alberta, 1905-1950:

[A] readable and informative account of Alberta’s historical and sometimes hysterical financial past. 

—Livio Di Matteo, Canadian Public Policy  

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations, Symbols and Terms


Author’s Preface

1. Geographic, Historical and Structural Background

2. The Investment Boom, 1906–13

3. The World War I Period, 1914–20
4. Depression, Stagnation, and Recovery, 1921–29

5 The Great Depression, 1930–51

6. Default, Recovery, and Prosperity, 1936–50

7. Fiscal Policies and Transactions, 1936–51
8. Summary and Retrospect, 1905–50

9. Appraisals and Conclusions

Appendix A: Provincial Income Estimates

Appendix B: Provincial Government Statistics

Appendix C: Local Government Statistics

Appendix D: Provincial Debt


Author’s Bibliography

Editor’s Bibliography