Biography of Sifton, Clifford, Sir, 1861-1929

Sir Clifford Sifton (1861-1929) was born in Upper Canada and came to Manitoba in 1875. He studied law and was called to the bar in 1882. In 1888 Sifton ran successfully in the provincial election, joining the Liberal Greenway government. In 1891 he became attorney general of Manitoba and provincial lands commissioner and in 1892 he became minister of education. He thus became deeply involved in the controversial Manitoba Schools Question, playing an important part in negotiating the Laurier-Greenway compromise. He was rewarded with a post in Prime Minister Laurier’s cabinet as minister of the interior and superintendent general of Indian Affairs in 1896. He now became responsible for immigration and the settlement of the west. His department aggressively promoted immigration to western Canada, sending out vast quantities of literature to lure immigrants from the United States, Britain, and central and eastern Europe. Sifton wanted to settle the west with farmers and his goal was to recruit immigrants interested in farming. In 1897-98, he purchased the Manitoba Free Press. He was also involved in the expansion of the railways and was the main negotiator of the Crow’s Nest Pass Agreement with the CPR. He was also in charge of the administration of the Yukon during the gold rush and presented Canada’s case to the Alaska Boundary Tribunal in 1903. He resigned from cabinet in 1905 and from parliament in 1911, after becoming increasingly opposed to some of Laurier’s policies, especially the reciprocity agreement with the United States. From 1909 to 1918, he was chairman of the Canadian Commission of Conservation. Sifton was knighted in 1915. He last major political effort was to ensure the election of the Union government in 1917. Sifton moved to Toronto in 1919. He died ten years later.

Mentioned in:


  1. Letter of 30 March 1896 from Clifford Sifton and J. D. Cameron to Arthur R. Dickey, Alphonse Desjardines, and Donald A. Smith
  2. Letter of 1 April 1896 from Clifford Sifton to Arthur R. Dickey, Alphonse Desjardines, and Donald A. Smith
  3. Third Class Diploma Margaret Arnett 16 April 1894


  1. "The Manitoba Schools" in Globe, 24 October 1896
  2. "The School Settlement Apparently Less Satisfactory than Ever" in The Mail, 25 November 1896
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