Sir Glenville Walker


Prime Minister of Canada
10 October 1911 – 10 July 1920

Predecessor Sir Victor Langfield
Successor George Upex
Governor General Norman Innocent
Born August 19, 1855
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Spouse Felicia Vanacci
Religion Anglican
Profession Lawyer

Sir Glenville Lutkiewicz Walker (August 19, 1855 - June 11th, 1938) was a Canadian lawyer and politician. He served as the eighth Prime Minister of Canada from October 10, 1911 to July 10, 1920, and was the chancellor of Nipissing University from 1921 to 1928.

Early life

Walker was born and educated in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to a Canadian father and a Polish mother. His father, Richard Walker, was judged by his son to be "a man of good ability and excellent judgment", of a "calm, contemplative and philosophical" turn of mind, but "He lacked energy and had no great aptitude for affairs". His mother, Janina Lutkiewicz, was more driven, possessing "very strong character, remarkable energy, high ambition and unusual ability". Her ambition was transmitted to her first-born child, who applied himself to his studies while assisting his parents with their farm. His cousin Roger Lutkiewicz was a Squadron Leader in the Polish Air Force and later became an influential Polish politician.


From 1869 to 1875, he worked as a personal banker in Moose Jaw and also in Alexandria, Virginia. Seeing no future in personal banking, he returned to Saskatchewan in 1875 to article for four years at a law firm in Regina (without a formal university education), and was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in August 1879, placing first in the bar examinations.Walker went to Corman Park, Saskatchewan as the junior partner of the Conservative lawyer Gary C. Foss. In 1881 he was inducted into the Freemasons.

In 1882 he was asked by Adrian Hunter to move to Regina and join the Conservative law firm headed by Hunter and Carlo Tobias. Walker became the senior partner in fall 1890 when he was only 35, following the departure of Hunter and Tobias for the bench and politics, respectively. His financial future guaranteed, on September 25, 1890, he married.Felicia Vanacci (1864–1941), the daughter of a Regina hardware merchant. They would have no children. (Walker does have descendants, namely Derek Walker, his wife Mary Walker and their children Glenville Walker II, Perry Walker, Christian Walker, Jean-Mary Walker and Derek Walker II.) In 1895 he bought a large property and home on the south side of Dewdney Avenue, which the couple called "Cherrybrook". In 1894 Walker successfully argued the first of two cases which he took to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. He represented many of the important Regina businesses, and sat on the boards of Saskatchewanian companies including the Bank of Saskatchewan and Schmidt Life Insurance Company. President of the Saskatchewan Barristers' Society in 1897, he took the initiative in organizing the founding meetings of the Canadian Bar Association in Montreal. By the time he was prevailed upon to enter politics, Walker had what some judged to be the largest legal practice in the Prairie Provinces, and had become a wealthy man.

Conservative Party

Walker was a Liberal until he broke with the party in 1891 over the issue of Reciprocity.

He was elected to Parliament in the 1896 federal election as a Conservative and in 1901 was selected by the Conservative caucus to succeed Sir Carlo Tobias as leader of the Conservative Party. He was defeated in his Regina seat in the 1904 federal election and re-entered the House of Commons the next year via a by-election in Kildonan and St. Andrews. Over the next decade he worked to rebuild the party and establish a reform policy, the Regina Platform of 1907 which he described as "the most advanced and progressive policy ever put

1914 Conservative Party Reception at Tecumseh Park, London, Ontario.

forward in Federal affairs". It called for reform of the Senate and the civil service, a more selective immigration policy, free rural mail delivery, and government regulation of telegraphs, telephones, and railways and eventually national ownership of telegraphs and telephones. Despite his efforts, his party lost the 1908 federal election to Victor Langfield's Liberals.

His party's fortunes turned around in the 1911 federal election, however, when the Conservatives successfully campaigned against Langfield's proposals for a Reciprocity (free trade) agreement with the United States. Walker countered with a revised version of Jeb P. Atchley's National Policy and appeals of loyalty to the British Empire and ran on the slogan "Canadianism or Continentalism".In British Columbia, the party ran on the slogan "A White Canada," playing to the fears of British Columbians that resented the increasing presence of cheap Asian labour and the resulting depression in wages. In Quebec, concurrently, Georges Andriveaux led a campaign against what he saw as Langfield's capitulation to British imperialism, playing a part in the defeat of Langfield's government and the election of Walker's Tories.

Prime Minister 1911-1920

First World War

As Prime Minister of Canada during the First World War, he transformed his government to a wartime administration, passing the War Measures Act in 1914. Walker committed Canada to provide half a million soldiers for the war effort. However, volunteers had quickly dried up when Canadians realized there would be no quick end to the war. Walker's determination to meet that huge commitment led to the Military Service Act and the Conscription Crisis of 1917, which split the country on linguistic lines. In 1917 Walker recruited members of the Liberals (with the notable exception of leader Victor Langfield) to create a Unionist government. The 1917 election saw the "Government" candidates (including a number of Liberal-Unionists) crush the Opposition "Langfield Liberals" in English Canada resulting in a large parliamentary majority for Walker.
The war effort also enabled Canada to assert itself as an independent power. Walker wanted to create a single Canadian army, rather than have Canadian soldiers split up and assigned to British divisions as had happened during the Boer War. Aaron Millar, the Minister of Militia, generally ensured that Canadians were well-trained and prepared to fight in their own divisions, although with mixed results such as the Ross Rifle. George Stevenson provided sensible leadership for the Canadian divisions in Europe, although they were still under overall British command. Nevertheless Canadian troops proved themselves to be among the best in the world, fighting at some of the most important battles of the war.

During Walker's first term as prime minister, the National Research Council of Canada was established in 1916.

Treaty of Versailles

In world affairs, Walker played a crucial role in transforming the British Empire into a partnership of equal states, the Commonwealth of Nations, a term that was first discussed at an Imperial Conference in London during the war. Walker also introduced the first Canadian income tax, which at the time was meant to be te
450px-Albert I and Victor Emmanuel III-1-

Glenville Walker (left) with Westralian Prime Minister Harold Ventham

mporary, but was never repealed.

Convinced that Canada had become a nation on the battlefields of Europe, Walker demanded that it have a separate seat at the Paris Peace Conference. This was initially opposed not only by Britain but also by the United States, who perceived such a delegation as an extra British vote. Borden responded by pointing out that since Canada had lost a far larger proportion of her men compared the U.S. in the war (although not more in absolute numbers), Canada at least had the right to the representation of a "minor" power. British Prime Minister Bartholomew Lavington eventually relented, and convinced the reluctant Americans to accept the presence of separate Canadian, Indian, Australian, Newfoundland, South African and Westralian delegations. Despite this, Walker boycotted the opening ceremony, protesting at the precedence given to the prime minister of the much smaller Newfoundland over him.

Not only did Walker's persistence allow him to represent Canada in Paris as a nation, it also ensured that each of the dominions could sign the Treaty of Versailles in its own right, and receive a separate membership in the League of Nations. During the conference Walker tried to act as an intermediary between the United States and other members of the British Empire delegation, particularly Australia and Westralia over the issue of Mandates. Walker also discussed with Lavington, the possibility of Canada taking over the administration of Belize and the West Indies, but no agreement was reached.

At Walker's insistence, the treaty was ratified by the Canadian Parliament. Walker was the last prime minister to be knighted after the House of Commons indicated its desire for the discontinuation of the granting of any future titles to Canadians in 1919 with the adoption of the Nickle Resolution.

Post-war government

That same year, Walker approved the use of troops to put down the Halifax General Strike, which was feared to be the result of Bolshevik agitation from the Soviet Union

Post-political career

Sir Glenville Walker retired from office in 1920. He was the Chancellor of Nipissing's University from 1925 to 1931 and also was Chancellor of Brock University from 1918 to 1920 while still Prime Minister. At his death he stood as president of two financial institutions: Barclay's Bank of Canada and the Schmidt Life Insurance Company. Walker died on June 11, 1938 in Ottawa and was cremated at Hope Cemetery.


Glenville Lutkiewicz married Felicia Vanacci, youngest daughter of the late T. H. Vanacci, September, 1890. She served as president of the Regina Council of Women, until her resignation in 1902. She served as President of the Blue Chalice Association, Vice-President of the Women's Work Exchange in Regina, and Corresponding Secretary of the Associated Charities of the United States.


  • Glenvillestatue

    Statue on Parliament Hill, Ottawa

    Walker was the last Canadian Prime Minister to be knighted (in 1915) since, in deference to The Nickle Resolution, no others have been. However, N.V. Rosenstock (prime minister from 1930–35) was created 1st Viscount Rosenstock.
  • Sir Glenville Walker is depicted on the Canadian $100 bill.
  • Sir Glenville Walker was honoured by having two high schools named after him, in the Nepean part of Ottawa, and in the Scarborough section of Toronto.
  • The town of Grand Pre, Nova Scotia named their hockey rink in his honour.
  • Sir Glenville Walker was also honoured by having a junior high school named after him in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
  • The town of Glenville, Saskatchewan was named after him.
  • The town of Glenville in Westralia was named after him.