Over the past few days, people from across Canada have taken the time to reflect on the immense legacy of Peter Lougheed. The former Premier will stand as a giant of Canadian politics, and a cornerstone of Alberta. The first President of the University of Alberta, Henry Marshall Tory, asked future students to remember in their studies “the people demand that knowledge shall not be the concern of scholars alone. The uplifting of the whole people shall be its final goal.” That ethos formed the backbone of Lougheed’s career. He was a man for the people, who was able to write the blueprint for long-term, sustainable prosperity for this province.
Looking back on the beginning of his legacy, his formative years at the University of Alberta, people often mention his time with The Gateway, the Golden Bears, or the Students’ Union. To have reached these achievements in only four years is impressive, and will almost certainly never be outdone. At the same time, while completing his undergraduate studies, Lougheed was President of Delta Upsilon Fraternity – the same position I am honored to hold today.
In only his second year as a member, Lougheed quickly rose to the top. During the 1950-1951 academic year, he served as President and led the chapter to one of its most successful years on record. Serving alongside him in the chapter executive were some of the men who would form his 1971 provincial cabinet. Stories from that era paint him as a perfect renaissance man – a man who could debate articulately, compete fiercely, win over a room of strangers, and who mentored many of the young men under his wing.
After he left the university, he remained quite involved with the chapter as a mentor to those who came after him. When the fraternity was looking to raise money for improvements to the current chapter house in 2000, Lougheed was one of the first to donate. When the chapter celebrated it’s 75th anniversary a few short years ago, he returned to deliver a rousing address that is still remembered fondly to this day. After the address, he waited for hours to patiently answer questions from star-struck young men. Knowing now about his health struggles, it was an incredible moment.
The multigenerational crowd that paid their respects as his casket paused at Rutherford House – the old Delta Upsilon chapter house where he first cut his teeth as a shrewd politician, articulate speaker and incredible mentor – was a true testament to the legacy of Peter Lougheed. To us, however, he will always be remembered as Brother Lougheed – former President, lifelong mentor, and a set of shoes impossible to fill.