Premier from 1917 to 1919
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AUBIN-EDMOND ARSENAULT WAS born in Abram-Village on July 28, 1870 and became the first
Acadian to head the government of a Canadian province. His family first settled on the Island in 1728 during the French
régime when the colony was known as Isle-Saint-Jean.
In 1885, he left home to study at Saint Dunstan's (School) College in Charlottetown. In 1888, he left Saint Dunstan's and taught school for two years in a country school, and one year in St. Joseph's College, New Brunswick, continuing his classical studies at the same time, before returning for one final year of schooling at St. Dunstan's. By this time, Arsenault had decided on a legal career and he articled in Charlottetown with prominent local lawyer, W.A.O. Morson, before being called to the Bar on November 1, 1898. After spending a year in England where he practised in the law office of Sir Charles Russell, Arsenault returned to Prince Edward Island in 1899, settling soon after in Summerside, where he practiced law from 1900 to 1921.
The Arsenault family had long been associated with the Conservative party. His father, Joseph-Octave had been elected to the provincial House of Assembly eleven times and went on to become the first Acadian Senator in Prince Edward Island. His older brother, Joseph-Félix also represented the District. Aubin Arsenault was first elected in 1908 and held his seat continuously until 1921. He served in the government of Premier Mathieson as Attorney General beginning in 1912. Arsenault's term as Premier began in 1917 when he succeeded J.A. Mathieson, who was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. In the 1919 general election his government was defeated and Arsenault remained as leader of the Opposition until 1921 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. He retired from the High Court in 1946.
During Premier Arsenault's administration, one of the most significant acts to be passed by the legislature was the repeal of the regulations which restricted automobile travel on the Island roads to certain days and routes.
Premier Arsenault also had the foresight to recognize that tourism would be a valuable industry to the economy of Prince Edward Island and was one of the founders of the Prince Edward Travel Bureau. Fully conscious of his Acadian heritage, he was an active supporter of a number of Acadian organizations which have helped to maintain the Acadian culture of this province. Aubin Arsenault and his wife, the former Bertha Gallant of Tignish, raised a family of eleven children. In recognition of his many and varied accomplishments, he was awarded honorary degrees by Saint Dunstan's University, Université Laval and Université Saint-Joseph.
Judge Arsenault died on April 29, 1968. He is buried in the People’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Charlottetown.