Prince Rupert’s City Council has an interesting and complex history since the incorporation of the City in 1910 – including one of the longest serving Mayors in Canada, our first female Mayor in 1943, and a 9 year bankruptcy during the Depression era.
Council’s Early Years
The first municipal election took place on May 19, 1910 with two candidates running for mayor, William Manson and Alfred Stork. There were fourteen candidates for aldermen and four candidates for school trustee. Four polling booths were set up in the Provincial Land Registry building on Second Avenue and 1025 voters cast their ballots. Alfred Stork won with 557 vote, beating William Manson by 104 votes according to the Prince Rupert Optimist, May 23, 1910.
The namesake of Manson Way, William Manson became Prince Rupert's second mayor in the 1911 election. (The terms of office were only for one year until 1948 when they became two-year terms). Manson had been the government agent and stipendiary magistrate of the Skeena District in 1907 and moved to Prince Rupert in 1908 when the government offices were moved from Port Simpson (present-day Lax Kw’alaams). In addition, he served as the Conservative MLA from 1910 to 1917.
T.D. (Duff) Pattullo was elected as alderman in the first 1910 election and went on to become Mayor in 1913, succeeding Manson. He was elected to the Provincial legislature in 1917 and was appointed Minister of Lands for the Liberal government. Eventually, he would become the Premier of B.C. from 1933 to 1941 and Pattullo Bridge, Pattullo Park, and Mount Pattullo have all been named in his honour.
Since the City was incorporated, other mayors elected included Sam Newton, M.P. McCaffery, Thomas McClymont, Harry Rochester, S.P. McMordie, Cyril H. Orme, M.M. Stephens, W.M. Watts, H.M. Daggett, Nora E. Arnold, George Rudderham, H.S. Whalen, George Hills, Peter J. Lester, John Kuz, Jack Mussallem, Don Scott, Herb Pond, and Lee Brain.
1933 Declaration of Bankruptcy
Governance over the City by a Mayor and Council had been steady since its incorporation in 1910, but that democratic stability was halted in 1933, when the City was forced to declare bankruptcy for a 9 year period. During that time, the Provincial Government appointed W.J. Alder, a former resident, to act as Commissioner for the Corporation of the City of Prince Rupert. Mr. Alder arrived on May 15, 1933, and assumed his duties to restore the city to a sound financial status. The Provincial Government announced in October 1942 that the municipal government would be restored, and an election was called for December 17, 1942.
First Female Mayor
Nora Arnold served on City Council from 1943 to 1946. After a time on Council, she became the first woman elected as Mayor in Prince Rupert, serving from 1947 to 1949. She received national recognition for her community activities and was named Canada's Woman of the Year in 1948 by the Business and Professional Women's Club.
Longest Serving Mayor
Prince Rupert's longest serving mayor was Peter J. Lester. Lester was elected as a council member in 1956 and went on to become mayor in 1958. He served as the mayor of Prince Rupert for 17 terms of office--over 36 years continuously. The Lester Centre for the Arts bears his name, for both he and his wife, Mary, were significant supporters of the arts community in Prince Rupert.