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From the Archives

August 29, 2017 Maggie Shane, ATA Archivist
Leading up to its official 100th anniversary in June 2018, the Alberta Teachers’ Association is celebrating its history through a number of initiatives, one of which is this column. Curated by archivist Maggie Shane and appearing in each issue of the ATA News this year, this column will feature significant moments and individuals in the Association’s history as well as interesting artifacts or documents from the Association’s archives.


Early Alliance president carves out career in civic politics

Harry Dean Ainlay (1887–1970)


Harry Dean Ainlay, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Alliance from 1928 to 1929, was mayor of the city of Edmonton over three terms from Nov. 7, 1945 to Nov. 2, 1949 after having served twice as alderman from 1931–1935 and again from 1941–1945. 

As a civic politician, Ainlay was associated with several progressive groups including the Labour and Civic Democratic Alliance, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the United People’s League and the Progressive Civic Association. 

Born and raised in Brussels, Ont., Ainlay earned his teaching credentials there before arriving in Alberta in 1907. Here, he initially pursued a career in real estate. In 1916, Ainlay returned to post-secondary studies at the newly established University of Alberta (founded in 1908). He received his bachelor of arts degree in 1920 and once again entered the teaching profession, serving as vice-principal and principal in several Edmonton schools. 

In 1966, the Edmonton Public School Board dedicated a large new high school to the memory of Harry Dean Ainlay, a dedicated and civic-minded public servant and teacher. Today, Harry Ainlay High School (home of the Titans) in southwest Edmonton maintains the motto In omnibus excelsior (In all things excellence) and educates more than 2,400 students in a full range of programs including French immersion, international baccalaureate, career and technology studies and apprenticeships. 

In March of 1970 Ainlay died at the age of 83 in Haney, B.C. In his will, he bequeathed the establishment of a $500 scholarship awarded to a Harry Ainlay graduate who intends to enter the teaching profession. ❚

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