X10448 | Richard Bedford Bennett

Richard Bedford Bennett
Jacob Young Mersereau
1896, 19th century
Albumen print mounted on card
16.3 x 10.7 cm
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

In 1893, Richard Bennett (1870-1947) became the junior partner in the Chatham, NB, law firm of Tweedie and Bennett. A tall young professional in his early twenties, Bennett cut a rather dashing figure. On Sundays he attended the local Methodist Church, eventually becoming a church trustee and Sunday school secretary, and teaching a class on Sunday afternoons.

His friend Max Aitken (1879-1964) noted much later that Bennett tended to be overly polite, yet given to bursts of angry indignation. Despite his flashes of temper, Bennett claimed again and again that one day he would enter politics and rise to the office of Prime Minister.

In 1896, Bennett won his first election to public office, a seat on the recently formed Chatham Town Council, by one vote. Later that year, Senator James Lougheed (1854-1925), a prominent lawyer and Conservative politician in Calgary, wrote to the Dean of the Dalhousie Law School asking whether he knew of any young lawyer whom might be interested in a partnership out West. The Dean recommended Bennett and, after lengthy negotiations including a trip by Lougheed to New Brunswick, the young lawyer left for Calgary in January 1897.

  • What

    As evidenced in this photograph, contemporaries noted that, as a rising young lawyer, R.B. Bennett thought a great deal of his appearance and dress.

  • Where

    Chatham is located in eastern New Brunswick along the Miramichi River, and is now part of the city of Miramichi.

  • When

    At the time Bennett lived and practised law in Chatham, it was considered the fourth most important town in New Brunswick.

  • Who

    Bennett's campaign manager in the 1896 municipal election was the 17-year-old Max Aitken, later the financier Lord Beaverbrook, who delivered leaflets for Bennett on his bicycle.