1948.5 | The Right Honourable Richard Bedford Bennett, Prime Minister of Canada (1930-1935)

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The Right Honourable Richard Bedford Bennett, Prime Minister of Canada (1930-1935)
Kenneth Keith Forbes
1938, 20th century
Oil on canvas
Bequest of the Right Honourable Richard Bedford, Viscount Bennett
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

Richard Bennett's (1870-1947) active interest in politics expanded in the early years of the 20th century. Although he lost a bid for a seat in the new provincial legislature of Alberta in 1905, he was successful four years later. In 1911, he benefited from the triumph of federal Conservatives over Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) and the Liberals, gaining the seat of Calgary East in the House of Commons. Bennett did not run in the federal election of 1917 and found himself relegated, if not to the sidelines, at least to supporting political roles.

Meanwhile, his legal and business interests continued to expand. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company were among his corporate clients. Business investments included the Calgary Power Company, a cement company and even, uncharacteristically, shares in the Calgary Brewing Company. In the early 1920s, Bennett's fortunes increased dramatically when he inherited a controlling interest in the E.B. Eddy Company, a match manufacturer in Hull, Quebec.

In 1925, Bennett recaptured his Calgary seat in the federal election. Now in his mid-50s, the millionaire businessman exuded a powerful physical and political presence in Parliament. With Arthur Meighen's (1874-1960) resignation as Conservative Party leader in 1926, the door opened for Bennett to achieve his lifelong ambition. He carried the 1927 leadership convention on the strength of his authorative air, oratorical skills, enthusiasm and drive, not to mention his wealth.

The public swept Bennett and the Conservatives to power in 1930, fully expecting him, with his legal and business background, to deal with the growing economic crisis.

  • What

    In 1932 and 1940, the artist Kenneth Keith Forbes (1892-1980) received the Thomas R. Proctor Prize, awarded by the National Academy of Design of the United States, for two of his portraits.

  • Where

    Kenneth Keith Forbes attended Westmount Academy in Montreal, before studying art in England and Scotland.

  • When

    As part of the Canadian War Memorials program, during World War I, Kenneth Keith Forbes served as a war artist for Canadian forces.

  • Who

    The artist Kenneth Keith Forbes was born in Toronto in 1892. He was the son of John Colin Forbes and Laura Gertrude Holbrook.