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Williams, George (1894–1945)

George Hara Williams.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A723-1

George Hara Williams was born November 17, 1894, at Binscarth, Manitoba. After service in World War I he attended the Manitoba Agricultural College and in 1920 was appointed director of livestock and equipment for Saskatchewan with the Soldier Settlement Board.

In 1921 Williams began farming at Semans. He joined the farmers union in 1923 and was president of the United Farmers of Canada from 1929 to 1931. Williams also served briefly as secretary of the Marxist Farmers’ Educational League and was founder and secretary of the short-lived Farmers’ Political Association formed in 1924.

Williams and M.J. Coldwell co-chaired the 1932 convention that brought delegates from the United Farmers of Canada together with members of the Independent Labour Party to form a new party, the Farmer-Labour Group. In 1934 this group was renamed the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Williams, elected in the Wadena constituency, was one of five successful CCF candidates in the 1934 provincial election. M.J. Coldwell, CCF party leader, was not elected. Williams remained floor leader of the CCF group in the Legislature, and leader of the Opposition. When Coldwell was elected in a federal election in 1935, Williams became leader of the provincial CCF. He served as secretary, office manager and party organizer during 1935, and as party president, organizer and leader from 1936 to 1941.

In 1941 Williams took up active military duty. At the CCF annual convention in 1941 T.C. Douglas was elected leader. Just before the 1944 election, Williams was discharged from the army and returned from overseas service. He was instrumental in rallying rural support for the CCF. Tommy Douglas appointed Williams Minister of Agriculture, a post he filled until February 1945 when failing health forced him to resign. He died on September 12, 1945 in Vancouver.

Lisa Dale-Burnett

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Further Reading

Steininger, Friedrich. 1976. “George H. Williams: Agrarian Socialist.” MA thesis. University of Regina.
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