Haultain, Frederick W.A.G
Lawyer, Newspaper Editor, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Judge, University Chancellor 1857-1942
Head table at the inauguration banquet. Haultain is at the far right. 1905. CORA-B-623.
Frederick W.A.G. Haultain was a cool, consummate politician, but his personal life was one of turmoil. He was secretly married for over 30 years to a divorcee with mental problems, a relationship he hid from public view lest the scandal damage his political career or his wife's mental health. Because of this secret, Haultain always held himself aloof from his colleagues and seemed to focus only on his career. This devotion to public service helped to make Saskatchewan a province, but it did not help Haultain's own career.
Haultain was born in 1857 to Lieutenant-Colonel F.W. Haultain of the Royal Artillery and Lucinde Helen Gordon. The family immigrated to Canada in 1860, settling in Peterborough, Ontario . Frederick Haultain attended the University of Toronto, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics in 1879 before being called to the bar in Ontario in 1882.
By 1884 he had moved west, travelling to Fort Macleod to set up a law practice. While there he also worked as an editor for papers in Fort Macleod and Lethbridge. His interest in law led naturally to an interest in politics and Haultain became the representative for Macleod on the North West Territories Council in 1887 and 1888. He then became Macleod's representative in the Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories from 1888 to 1905. Soon he rose to the position of Chairman of the Advisory Council of the North West Territories Council, the Chairman of the Executive Committee and when the North-West Territories Act was amended, he became Premier of the North West Territories.
Haultain was quite a prim and proper gentleman. He carried himself with an air of gentility and authority. A naturally shy man, he combated his instinct to stay on the sidelines by playing soccer and cricket. He hunted with the Mounted Police, settlers and townspeople and he sang in the church choir.
Political opponents often thought him to have an attitude of smugness or superiority. It was true that he had a quick wit about him and people seemed to form strong opinions about him – they either loved him or hated him. Politically, he managed to divide the Legislative Assembly into the pro-Haultain and anti-Haultain factions. Despite this, all members of the Legislative Assembly had some measure of respect for Haultain's integrity and authority.
An avowed bachelor, Haultain seemed intimidated by women and was very shy around them. It was this inexperience that led to Haultain losing his heart to Marion Mackintosh, a daughter of Lieutenant-Governor Mackintosh. Marion was a very attractive young lady when Haultain first saw her at local functions in the 1890s. She had very little interest in Haultain, however and in 1896 she married Regina wine and cigar merchant Louis Castellain. However, Castellain's business went bankrupt and the Castellains moved to England, where Marion gave birth to a daughter.
In 1902, Haultain went to England as the official representative of the North West Territories at the coronation of Edward VII. There he again met Marion Castellain, who by then had been abandoned by her erstwhile husband and was living in poverty. Haultain's heart was broken by this sad turn of events. He gave her money, but instead of allowing Haultain into her life she fled to the United States to obtain a divorce and to marry an American. Abandoned a second time, she became physically ill and mentally unstable. She again accepted money from Haultain, but insisted that he marry her. He was besotted with her and agreed instantly.
They married secretly in 1906. Although she had promised to join him, Marion refused to move to Regina. Instead, she travelled to England again, then returned to Ontario in 1909. Haultain was forced to hospitalize her because of her deteriorating mental condition. In the meantime, the love of his life had become a very real political liability. Twice divorced, 20 years his junior and in poor mental health, Marion was not a suitable politician's wife. Haultain reluctantly decided to keep his marriage to Marion a secret. For 30 years, he maintained a quiet bachelor lifestyle in Regina while his secret wife and her child lived in Ontario. Until Marion 's death in 1938, Saskatchewan residents believed Haultain was a bachelor.
Haultain devoted his energy to his career. He had been Premier when the federal government started negotiations to allow the North West Territories to enter Confederation. Haultain had strong ideas about what should be done with the North West Territories – he felt it should be made into a super-province called Buffalo that would have control over its own natural resources and that it should be run by a non-partisan administration.
The Liberal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier also had strong opinions on what should be done to the North West Territories, however. This plan called for the territory to be divided into 2 provinces - Saskatchewan and Alberta, in order to avoid one huge province taking power away from the eastern provinces and the natural resources would remain in the purview of the federal government. Furthermore, the government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier was not keen on having Frederick W.A.G. Haultain in charge of either of the 2 provinces, because Haultain had been campaigning on behalf of the Conservative opposition party. A more appropriate choice for premier of Saskatchewan, the Laurier government felt, was Walter Scott, publisher of the Regina Leader newspaper and longtime Liberal supporter. Thus, Scott became Saskatchewan 's first premier, while Haultain was left in the position of Leader of the Opposition. Many people in the new province felt Haultain, who had been instrumental in the formation of the 2 new provinces, had been robbed of his rightful position in favour of partisan politics.
Haultain continued on as Leader of the Opposition until 1912, when he was appointed Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Saskatchewan. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in 1917. That same year, he was made the Chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan.
After Marion passed away in 1938, Haultain publicly married Mrs. W.B. Gilmour of Montreal. He was 81 at the time of what everyone thought was his first marriage. In 1939 he retired to live in Montreal. In 1942, Frederick W.A.G. Haultain died. Haultain's ashes are interred on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan, just inside the Memorial Gates that lead to the University Hospital.
A mountain in Jasper National Park is named for him, an honour typically only bestowed upon deceased Prime Ministers. The honour is appropriate, however, because for Alberta and Saskatchewan Frederick Haultain was truly the father of Confederation.