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Dunning, Charles Avery

Dunning, Charles Avery, 1885-1958

  • PA 521
  • Person
  • 1885-1958

Charles Avery Dunning was born on July 31, 1885, in Croft, Leicestershire, England, to Samuel and Katherine (Hall) Dunning. He was educated at Leicester until age 11 when he left school and became an office boy at the local patent office. At age 14, he became an apprentice at an engineering firm. Dunning emigrated to Canada in 1902 and settled near Yorkton, North-West Territories, where he worked as a farm labourer. In 1903, he was granted entry on a homestead at NE 20-26-6 W2 in the Beaverdale district.

As a farmer, Dunning was active in the Beaverdale local of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association (SGGA). He was elected as a director of the SGGA in 1910 and as a vice-president in 1911. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company, and served as its first general manager from 1914 until 1916.

In October 1916, Dunning was appointed by the Premier of Saskatchewan, W.M. Martin, to serve as Provincial Treasurer in his Cabinet. Dunning was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature in a November 1916 by-election as the Liberal Party Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the Kinistino constituency. He was elected as the MLA for the Moose Jaw County constituency in 1917 and was re-elected in 1921 and 1925. In addition to his portfolio as Provincial Treasurer (1916-1926), Dunning served as Minister of Railways (1917-1919, 1922-1926), Minister of Telephones (1918-1919), Minister of Agriculture (1919-1920), Provincial Secretary (1921-1922), Minister of Municipal Affairs (1921-1922) and Minister-in-Charge of Labour and Industries (1921-1922). Upon the resignation of Martin as Premier on April 5, 1922, Dunning was appointed leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party and was sworn in as Premier of Saskatchewan and President of the Executive Council. During its mandate, the Dunning Government ended prohibition, by result of a 1924 plebiscite on the issue, and established a provincial liquor board aimed at controlling the sale of alcohol. It also oversaw the establishment and early growth of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.

On February 26, 1926, Dunning resigned as Premier and MLA to accept a federal post as Minister of Railways and Canals in the W.L. Mackenzie King Cabinet. He served in this role in two separate terms between 1926 and 1929, and as Acting Minister in late 1929. He also served as Minister of Finance and Receiver General in two separate terms between 1929 and 1939, Dunning was elected as a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP) for the Regina constituency in 1926 and served until his defeat in 1930. He was elected as a Liberal MP for the Queen's constituency in Prince Edward Island in 1935 and served until his retirement from politics in 1939.

After leaving politics, Dunning relocated to Montreal, Quebec and was appointed president and chief executive officer of Ogilvie Flour Mills, a position held until 1947. He also sat on the boards of various other corporations and financial institutions. Dunning was appointed chancellor of Queen's University in 1940 and served in this role until his death on October 1, 1958 in Montreal. He was interred at Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.

Charles Dunning married Ada Rowlatt on July 3, 1913. They had two children: Katherine and Avery. Ada Dunning died in Montreal on December 2, 1963.