Albert Charles Saunders
Premier from 1927 to 1930
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ALBERT CHARLES SAUNDERS WAS BORN in Summerside on 12th October 1874, the son of a harness maker. His father was born in Devonshire, England and emigrated to Prince Edward Island as a mere lad and his mother hailed from Aberdeen, Scotland. His early education was obtained in Summerside schools and later he attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown where he excelled in college sports activities.
Following graduation from Prince of Wales, Mr. Saunders returned to Summerside and decided to study law. This remained his prime interest and at the end of his second year at Prince of Wales he began his legal training in the office of J. Edward Wyatt, K.C. of Summerside. Subsequently, Mr. Saunders became articled to the firm of Peters, Peters and Ings of Charlottetown. The senior member, Honourable F. Peters, was premier of Prince Edward Island from 1891-1897 and the young law student was immersed very early in the whirlpool of politics. Mr. Saunders was called to the bar on 3rd October, 1899. He opened his own law office in Summerside, becoming recognized as a leading criminal lawyer. Some years later, Thane A. Campbell, who was destined also to become a premier of the province, read law with Mr. Saunders, and during the late 1920s became his partner.
Mr. Saunders's first step in the political arena was as Mayor of Summerside, an office he held for four terms. In 1919 he was asked to run in the district of Second Prince for the Liberals and held this seat until he resigned. Also in that year, 1919, he was instrumental in bringing William Lyon MacKenzie King from Ontario to the Island to run in the federal constituency of Prince. In 1923, he became leader of the Liberal Opposition and in 1927 he defeated the Conservative Government of Premier J.D. Stewart and became the sixteenth premier of Prince Edward Island. This particular election campaign was fought mainly on the issue of prohibition and Mr. Saunders maintained that a continuance of total prohibition would have nothing but benefits for the Island.
Although Mr. Saunders's tenure of office as premier was of short duration, three years only, he was interested in the betterment of all Islanders: improvement of the Island's educational standards by revising the curriculum of the public schools and increasing the salaries of teachers and the necessity of improved roads throughout the Island.
In 1930, Premier Saunders was appointed Master of Rolls and Justice of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. He resigned as Premier and was succeeded in this post by Walter M. Lea.
At the time of Premier Saunders's death on 18th October, 1943, a Charlottetown newspaper noted that Premier Saunders had differed from most of his predecessors in that he had a political success "unaided by wealth and influence" and had overcome this by virtue of hard work and perseverance.
Saunders is buried in St. John's Anglican Cemetery in Summerside.