Former AB premier Peter Lougheed wears a half Edmonton Oilers and half Calgary Flames jersey at the AB Legislature, October 14, 1983.
Credits: EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON - A simple bouquet of white roses rested under Peter Lougheed's portrait in the premier's wing of the Alberta legislature on Friday, the day after his death.
As flags flew at half-mast, around the province tributes and memories poured in for the man whose leadership moulded modern Alberta.
Lougheed will lie-in-state at the Alberta legislature rotunda Monday and Tuesday.
Edmonton resident Charles Bradbrooke recalled how Lougheed's campaign call for diligence and reward prompted him to relocate to Alberta.
"We moved from Saskatchewan to Alberta to help work our buns off so we wouldn't have to pay any taxes later," Bradbrooke remembered.
Subsequent government excesses blew that lead away, he said.
Solicitor General Jonathan Denis recalled Lougheed's 2003 visit to his school that he said shaped his career.
"He suggested three of us in the crowd would become MLA - at that moment I decided it was a career I wanted to pursue," Denis recalled.
What impressed Denis the most, he said, was the retired premier's positive attitude.
"His example to me is one of service - he looked at everyone around him as someone he served, one of his bosses," Denis said.
At the Alberta Legislature, where the Calgary native's upstart Progressive Conservative party blazed a new path four decades ago with a victory over the Social Credit party in a tide-turning election, tributes came in from all sitting parties.
"He modernized Alberta, toppled a political dynasty, diversified the economy, and established strong public institutions," said Liberal leader Raj Sherman, recalling Lougheed strengthening Alberta's role in confederation, taking on Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's contentious National Energy Program over energy revenue sharing.
A University of Alberta-educated lawyer with a Harvard MBA, Lougheed was well-served by his keen business sense and an aptitude for game-changing legislation.
"A true federalist, he was an outspoken proponent of Canadian unity and the Constitution Act. He also fought to enshrine our freedoms, defend property, and enhance civil liberties through the creation of the Alberta Bill of Rights," Sherman said.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford is cutting short her trade trip to Asia in honour of the Alberta icon.
Redford, who began her trip to China last weekend, was making arrangements Friday to return from China before its was originally scheduled to end on Monday, said her spokeswoman, Kim Misik.
"He was an important mentor for her, someone she cared a lot about," said Misik.
The wife of former premier Ralph Klein said her husband has fond memories of working with his predecessor at Alberta's helm.
In a statement released Friday, Colleen Klein said the two worked for a common cause, particularly when preparations for Calgary's 1988 Winter Olympic Games were in full flight.
"Ralph often reflected on their relationship built during the time they worked together as mayor of Calgary and premier of Alberta to bring the 1988 Olympic Winter Games to Calgary and make these Games a tremendous success," she said.
"Later, when Ralph became premier, he and former premier Lougheed spoke on many occasions about the challenges they shared, and the Alberta they both wanted for Albertans."
Ralph Klein, who was premier from 1992 to 2006, has receded from public view since being stricken by a form of dementia.
Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason said Lougheed's work is recognized nationally because as he stood up for Albertans, he remained a passionate Canadian.
"He was a giant of Alberta political history and, in many ways, the founder of modern Alberta - he was a huge figure in my political development, and I will miss him," Mason said.
Lougheed's family thanked all the professionals at Alberta Health Services who have helped care for him over the last months and days, which included a stay at the Peter Lougheed Centre named after him.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jeanne (nee Rogers), four children and seven grandchildren. The family plans a private service, and a public memorial will be announced, said Lougheed family spokesman Jason Hatcher.
"The family are extraordinarily touched and grateful - in fact, overwhelmed - by the outpouring from Albertans and Canadians," said Hatcher.
"They're very touched by the sentiments and many memories that have been expressed."
- with files from Bill Kaufmann