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- Shaw, Walter Russell
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ca. 100 photographs
1 Sound recording
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Walter Russell Shaw was born in West River on 20 December 1887, the son of Alexander Crawford Shaw and Isobel Maynard. He attended school at St. Catherine's and Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. After two years at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, he went on to the Agricultural College in Guelph to obtain a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto in 1916. He joined the 9th Siege Battery in World War I but did not see active duty. On June 1, 1921 he married Margaret MacKenzie with whom he had three children: Margaret Eileen, Norma Katherine, and Walter Maynard.
His life and career were to be inextricably tied to the field of agriculture, his first and enduring interest and pastime. Upon his return to Prince Edward Island, he entered the farming industry, rapidly earning a reputation as a livestock breeder and judge. He practiced diversified farming throughout his life, stocking his farm with horses, cattle, hogs and poultry. He also grew potatoes and experimented with producing new varieties of grain.
From 1914 to 1954, except for a brief period from 1919 to 1922 when he was employed as agricultural editor with the "Farmers guide", a Maritime farm journal, he was employed by the PEI Department of Agriculture as district representative, livestock superintendent and Deputy Minister. The latter position he held for 20 years.
Under his direction advances were made in almost all agricultural practices. He was particularly interested in the development of agricultural training programs including youth clubs and school fairs. He worked closely with individuals and with agricultural institutes and organizations and helped to organize cooperative marketing and sale of Island livestock and produce. In his capacity as supervisor of Falconwood Farm, he was responsible for experiments in the area of artificial breeding of cattle, swine and sheep. Under his leadership veterinary services became an established fact in the Province. He was responsible for the launching of the PEI Federation of Agriculture and served as its General Secretary as well as Director of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
Following his retirement in 1954, he had devoted only a few years to his farming, painting, and general interests when in September of 1957, he was named leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of PEI. At the age of 71, he fought the general election of 1959 carrying 22 out of a possible 30 seats, including his own in 1st Queens. He served as Premier of Prince Edward Island from 1959 to 1966. During his administration a new Provincial Administration Building, later to have his name, was constructed, expansion took place in the food processing industry, a regional high school system was put into place, and there was a revamping of salary and employment conditions in the civil service.
Personally undefeated in the election of 1966 which swept his party from power, he continued as Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly until 1972 when he retired from politics. He had maintained his lifelong interest in the pursuit of agriculture and wrote a regular agricultural column the local paper and participated in radio broadcasts specializing in market reports. He also devoted some time to the writing of local history and published the booklet Tell me the tales". He was a polished public speaker much in demand at public functions and private gatherings.
Throughout his long and distinguished lifetime, Walter Shaw served in many capacities and received many awards and honours. He was President of the Caledonian Club and Chief of the Highland Clans, a member of St. John Lodge, Freemasons, in Crapaud, a senior elder in the United Church of Canada, and a life member in the Canadian Bible Society. He received Honorary Doctorates of Law from Mt. Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, and from St. Dunstan's in Charlottetown and held honorary membership in the New Haven and Charlottetown branches of the Canadian Legion as well as receiving the first honorary membership in the P.E.I. 4-H Council. He was decorated by Royalty on three occasions, receiving the Jubilee and Coronation Medals and being made a Member of the British Empire. He was also awarded the Order of Canada.
Walter Shaw died on 28 May 1981 at the age of 93.
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