The Premier and His Grandmother

Peter Lougheed, Lady Belle, and the Legacy of Métis Identity

By (author): Doris Jeanne MacKinnon
ISBN 9781772034592
Softcover | Publication Date: October 17, 2023
Book Dimensions: 6 in. x 9 in.
320 Pages
$32.95 CAD
E-Book Price: $16.99 CAD

About the Book

An intriguing look at the connections between Alberta premier Peter Lougheed and his Métis grandmother, Isabella Clark Hardisty Lougheed, exploring how Métis identity, political activism, and colonial institutional power shaped the lives and legacies of both.

Combining the approaches of political biography and historical narrative, The Premier and His Grandmother introduces readers to two compelling and complex public figures. Born into a prominent fur trading family, Isabella Clark Hardisty Lougheed (1861–1936) established a distinct role for herself as an influential Métis woman in southern Alberta, at a time when racial boundaries in the province were hardening and Métis activists established a firm foundation for the Métis to be recognized as distinct Indigenous Peoples.

Isabella’s grandson Edgar Peter Lougheed (1928–2021) served as premier of Alberta at a time when some of that activism achieved both successes and losses. Drawing on Peter Lougheed’s personal papers, family interviews, and archival research, this book analyzes his political initiatives in the context of his own identity as a person of Métis ancestry. While there are several publications that refer to Peter Lougheed in the context of his role as premier, few of those publications have acknowledged his connection to an important Métis pioneer family and his connection to his Indigenous ancestors.

About the Author(s)

Doris Jeanne MacKinnon was born on a farm in northeastern Alberta and attended school in the historic town of St-Paul-dés-Métis. She holds a PhD in Indigenous and post-Confederation Canadian history. An independent researcher, author, and post-secondary instructor, she lives in Central Alberta. Her publications focus on Western Canadian topics that expand readers’ understanding of our diverse people and experiences. Her books are written in an engaging style that appeals to a broad cross-section of the population.


"A fascinating look into our family’s Métis heritage and how it may have impacted my father’s time in public office. As a signatory to the Constitution Act, 1982, my father as premier agreed to the addition of Section 35 in the Constitution of Canada, recognizing and affirming Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and extending the definition of ‘Aboriginal Peoples of Canada’ to include the Métis People of Canada. Privately proud of his heritage, he was, as the Métis Nation of Alberta has often stated, a Métis 'hiding in plain sight.'"
—Joe Lougheed, son of Peter Lougheed
"MacKinnon draws the reader along by writing with an engaging narrative style . . . a welcome and unique contribution to the history of the fur trade, the Métis people and Alberta’s formation as a province. It leaves one thinking about the multiple dimensions of identity and how they shape historical characters and their roles in public life."
Alberta Views
“A scholarly work revealing the perseverance and resilience of members of the Lougheed family, who transitioned from a traditional lifestyle and worldview and adapted to a fast-paced, chaotic, and often racist environment. Little-known details are enlightening and contribute to a foundational understanding about Indigenous Peoples that can open the door to reconciliation. A must-read for Indigenous studies.”
—Sharon Anne Pasula, Urban Cultural, Educational and Spiritual Resource Person, and former Vice President Region IV, Metis Nation of Alberta
“A fascinating read that tells the story of the adaptability of the Métis and our history during the fur trade and life thereafter. The Lougheeds became a powerful Métis family, and this book speaks to their strength and resilience. I would highly recommend The Premier and His Grandmother!
—Marilyn Lizee, consultant for the Métis Nation of Alberta, co-editor of Stories of Métis Women: Tales My Kookum Told Me
“As Canadians continue to seek out a better understanding of our country, we must honestly reflect on our past to understand what has made us who we are today. To truly appreciate how people have contributed to Canada as we know it today, we must be prepared to understand our leaders differently today than they were at the time. While we are beginning to honour and celebrate Indigenous heritage in Alberta, that was not always the case. This little-known part of Lougheed family history confronts the fact that we have not celebrated Indigenous history and this excellent research helps us to understand one further aspect of the true history of Alberta and the important life of one Métis woman. It reminds us that we continue to honour an incomplete history of Alberta to our detriment.”
—Honourable Alison M. Redford, KC, ICD.D., fourteenth Premier of Alberta
The Premier and His Grandmother is a unique look into the cultural and historic heritage of one of Alberta’s most iconic premiers, Peter Lougheed. It is an important contribution to the canon of Métis history in Alberta and highlights the complex nature of identity and belonging, while honouring the work of our Métis matriarchs.”
—Bailey Oster, co-editor of Stories of Métis Women: Tales My Kookum Told Me
“Doris MacKinnon has skillfully linked the story of former Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed, with that of his grandmother, Isabella Clark Hardisty Lougheed. MacKinnon’s book is thoroughly researched , especially when highlighting the history of the Métis in Alberta, an area of Western Canadian history much in need of further research.”
—Greg N. Fraser, author of Joseph William McKay: A Métis Business Leader in Colonial British Columbia