In his 1913 volume of BC biographies, Judge William Howay described Nelson Seymour Lougheed as “one of the most progressive, able and discriminating young business men of Port Haney”. Born in Ontario in 1882, Nelson Lougheed had moved to British Columbia with his family who settled in New Westminster. After graduating in 1896, Lougheed accompanied an expedition of discovery through the Caribou and then signed on for the Boer War, fighting with the Canadian Mounted Rifles until the end of that conflict.
Upon his return to Canada in 1902, Nelson took employment with a Port Moody sawmill and in 1905, he moved to Port Haney to start his own sawmill with partner George Abernethy. He was 23 years old. In 1911, he married local girl Ruby Louise Selkirk. They had one son, Milford Seymour in 1914. Sadly, Ruby died in the great flu epidemic of 1918.
By 1913, when Howay’s book was published, Nelson Lougheed was a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen [AOUW], the Masons, and the Westminster Club. He was president of the Conservative Association of Port Haney and had already served four years on municipal council. He became Reeve in 1912 at the ripe old age of thirty.
The Conservative Party of BC had arisen in time to contest the 1903 election – the first to have parties – which they won and went on to hold government until a loss to the Liberals in 1916. The Liberals would win the next two elections as well. The Tory revival came with along with Simon Fraser Tolmie at the helm. Recently retired from his logging company, Nelson Lougheed agreed to become the Conservative candidate for the Dewdney constituency.
That the community thought very highly of Mr. Lougheed was clearly reflected by newspaper editor J Junier Dougan, writing in the local Gazette, “Any position or honor in the gift of the citizens to which Mr. Lougheed might be named would carry the fullest measure of confidence.”
During campaign speeches, Nelson Lougheed concentrated on the need for roads throughout the province. He specifically mentioned this need with regard to the north side of the Fraser River where a patchwork of Dewdney Trunk and River Road provided a less than satisfactory route across the district.
The Conservatives were resoundingly successful in their attempt, winning a total of 35 seats to 12 for the Liberal Party and one Independent Labour Party. Lougheed was immediately named Minister for Public Works in the Tolmie government and during his five years in office was instrumental in the construction of roads throughout the province, most notably, the highway north of the Fraser that would bear his name.
That was likely the major success of the entire government. The Tolmie government had been elected on a promise to return government to “sound business practices” and debt reduction, only to dive headlong into the worst economic depression of modern times. By 1931, with unemployment at 28 percent, the population was clamouring for remedies and relief. Competing ideas and positions put the Conservative Party at such odds internally that by the end of their term, despite being still a majority government, the decision was made that the Conservative party would not field any candidates for the 1933 election. It then dissolved into factions with different leaders. The election of 1928 would turn out to be the last time BC had a Conservative government.
It appears that Nelson Lougheed simply retired from politics in 1933 at the end of this one term – perhaps he was discouraged by the dissolution of his party. It is also likely that he had never intended to stay beyond one term and that he returned to family concerns as Abernethy & Lougheed Logging Co. struggled in bankruptcy. He had also married for a second time while in government and had a young family of three daughters.
He was living in Vancouver in 1944 when he passed away suddenly after a short illness. He was 62.