JUNE 22, 1883 - MARCH 18, 1969

John Bracken led an eventful life in the fields of agriculture and politics which included many high and low points. He was born June of 1883 near Ellisvale Ontario, but is most known for his time spent in the prairie provinces. Before moving west, Bracken attended the Ontario Agricultural College where he demonstrated great academic and athletic success.

Upon his graduation Bracken was offered a job in Manitoba as a seed control inspector at the Department of Agriculture which caused him to travel extensively through the prairies. He was exceedingly skilled at his job and his reputation spread to many people, including W.R. Motherwell who offered Bracken a job with the Saskatchewan Stock Breeders Association. Bracken was also appointed president of the University of Saskatchewan where he taught animal husbandry.

In 1922 he was asked to act as premier when the United Farmers of Manitoba won the provincial election despite not having expected it and not having chosen a premier. Bracken served until 1943 and in that time he prioritized repayment of provincial debt which included increased taxation, including the creation of a provincial income tax, and cuts to various departments. He most often strove to assist his rural constituents, having little sympathy for labourers. Unfortunately, his government fell on hard times during the Great Depression, which effected the prairie provinces the most with the fall of the price of wheat. At the height of the Depression in 1933 about two thirds of the people living in the prairie provinces were on relief. However, upon the beginning of the world war ten years after the beginning of the Depression things began to improve for those in Manitoba.

Bracken was asked to lead the unimpressive national Conservative party in 1943, prompting him to leave provincial politics. He reluctantly agreed, on the condition that the name be changed to the Progressive Conservative Party. He was elected as lead of the party in 1945 but never held much sway with the other politicians which resulted in an underwhelming career with the party.

During his time in politics, Bracken was often the voice of farmers in the prairies. He fought valiantly for improvements in the industry and against the gains enjoyed by the Canadian Pacific Railways at the expense of the farmers. After his time in politics he retired in Ottawa to raise livestock and award-winning alfalfa.

Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture