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BC Premier #23 – Boss Johnson

So, here I am blogging about yet another boring Premier of the Province of British Columbia.  But never fear, the next guy on the list is W.A.C. Bennett!  Ole’ Wacky himself!  So just get through this one and next week I’ll have something less yawn-inducing for you to read about.

File:Byron Johnson.jpg Name Byron Ingemar Johnson
Born: December 10, 1890 in Victoria, BC
Died: January 12, 1964 in Victoria, BC
Party: coaltion of the Conservatives and the Liberals
Held Office: December 29, 1947 – August 1, 1952
  • born Björn Ingemar “Bjossi” Jönsson
  • known as “Boss,” which apparently was just coincidentally to him being the boss of the province – it was an anglicization of “Bjossi,” which is a diminutive of Björn
  • served in WWI
  • was a Mason
  • 1933: elected as a Liberal MLA in Victoria City
  • 1937: lost his seat, returned to the building supply business he shared with his brother (or, he quit in 1934, returned to politics in 1937 but wasn’t elected (not sure how you “return” to politics if you aren’t elected), depending on which source you believe)
  • WWII: put in charge of building Royal Canadian Air Force facilities in BC
  • 1945: elected as an MLA in New Westminster, served as a cabinet minister in the Liberal-Conservative coalition government under Hart
  • 1947: when Hart resigned, Johnson took over as leader and thus became the premier
  • as premier he did a bunch of stuff (e.g., introduced compulsory health care and a 3% sales tax to pay for it, appointing the first female speaker in the British Commonwealth, Nancy Hodges)
  • 1949: stayed premier as the Liberal-Conservative coalition won the largest popular vote in BC history
  • 1951: the Conservatives pull out of the coalition, collapsing Johnson’s government
  • 1952: defeated by the Social Credit Party (the predecessor to the current day BC So-Called Liberal Party) (and lost his own seat to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the predecessor party to the New Democratic Party (NDP)). This marked the end of the Liberal-Conservative coalition and the beginning of the two-party system we have to this day

In summary, we can thank Boss Johnson for our provincial health care, but blame him for two-party system.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!

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3 Responses to BC Premier #23 – Boss Johnson

  1. BC Mary says:

    Hi Beth,

    In the spirit of the season of Giving & Getting, I have copied some of your posting about Deb’s wedgie …

    then added some stuff about Boss Johnson.

    Now I want to thank you — not only for the gift but also for the laughter it came with.

    I’m at The Legislature Raids,
    http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com [I need a new name, but can’t think of an appropriate one … maybe Public Inquiry on Basi-Virk?]

    if you can find something there, to borrow.

    Merry Christmas … Happiest New Year! I love your blog.

  2. Boss Johnson was also a fairly decent lacrosse goalkeeper – he played pro lacrosse in 1913-1915 with Vancouver.

  3. Bill Coale says:

    Hi Beth
    Byron Johnson was my great uncle, my grandmother Anna Dagmar Johnson Evans was his younger sister. He was a dynamic man, gave everything he had in anything he did and was far from blah. You neglected to mention just exactly why he became premier. The answer is that he was perhaps the only truly honest man in the entire assemblage of crooks known as the BC parliament. No other man could have held a coalition of opposites together, maybe no other man in all of Canada. His predecessor, Mr Hart was indeed a forgettable character, his successor, Mr Bennett I won’t say anything about him, he is revered by all :Loyal Canadians, if there is such a thing. I only knew him as a big gentle guy that would toss me in the air, catch and kiss me and gush “how’s my Billy- boy”. I never heard a bad word about him and loved him and my Aunt Kate with all my heart.
    As for your comments, It is real easy to try to be just as glib as you can when describing men like my uncle, but sometimes you let that get in the way of being honest, which is something he never did. He was perhaps the most honest man in the history of Canadian politics, the sad part of it all is that there are so very few left alive who can remember him and just how honest he was. I do, and will, but WTF, I’m 77 now, so maybe this will serve as one last footnote to his bio. Cheers, Bill Coale

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