The lives of men and women who were useful in their time can serve
as an inspiration for future generations, if only their memory
can be preserved; but preservation is a real problem in these crowded
times when the pressing demands of today so often leave no time for
memorials of the past, no matter how important they may be.
Longfellow immortalized this challenge in his famous lines:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
Proceeding on these lines, the Bible Bill Historical Foundation
thought first of the rather obvious approach best exemplified in recent
memory by the erection of statues of "The Famous Five",
five women who made a contribution in their day, one for all practical
purposes now forgotten. That group of statutes is now in place (at
great cost) but the memory of its subjects is no greater now than
before the great fund raising by a small group of enthusiasts took
place. This, then, seems to be a poor way to try to project past achievements
into the future for the benefit of future generations.
The foundation then examined the matter of a book explaining the
life and times of William Aberhart but, while this had more appeal,
it became clear that many books already existed. While some may have
been unsatisfactory in a historical sense, to add another to the list
would be more likely to add to dead library shelves than to live personal
achievement. Extensive discussions around the Province led to the
conclusion that a fitting memorial to the man that Aberhart was would
be something that could carry on his message of personal effort and
That is the process that has led to the proposal, a fairly modest
one appropriately since he was a modest man, that an annual scholarship
grant be provided to students who have faced and overcome personal
hardship, one who could benefit from an opportunity for personal growth
that might otherwise be denied him or her.
The causes of hardship in a society far more prosperous than in
Aberhart's time are necessrily more individual. They may be the loss
of parents, for example, or even personal affliction or handicap,
anything that can close off opportunities for the future witout a
helping hand. That helping hand is what the Bible Bill Historical
Foundation proposes to provide, in a way perpetuating the memory of
a great Albertan.
The purpose of the Bible Bill Historical Foundation is to recognize
the Alberta heritage represented by the career in education and political
life of a great Albertan. To carry this recognition forwards for the
future by presenting an annual scholarship in his name to an Albertan
student who deserves help for the qualities of perseverance and acheivement
in the face of hardship.
Premier Aberhart laid the foundation of Alberta's prosperity in
the most difficult of times, in the years of the Great Depression,
when so many people had nothing to look forward to but unemployment
and hopelessness. As a pioneer teacher and school principal at Crescent
Heights High School in Calgary, Mr. Aberhart entered politics in the
interests of his students that he saw graduate from his school with
nothing to look forward to, not even a job.
He gave Albertans hope through imaginative and unorthodox political
action that was completely outside the mainstream of conventional
establishment politics. He was a radical when a radical was needed.,
and he founded a party that gave Alberta 37 years of continuous government,
a record in the democratic world even today. William Aberhart is now
gone, but his acheivements live on, and the principles for which he
fought have been adopted long since by other parties and governments.
Alberta's 100th anniversary has gone (2005) and the Province of
Alberta held suitable celebrations to recognize its great heritage,
one surpassed by no other in the Canadian Confederation. A suitable
(and modest) recognition of William Aberhart's part in the Alberta
acheivement can best take the form of help to a student like the students
whose needs called him into public life in 1935.
The Bible Bill Historical Foundation (the Foundation) has been
set up to bring into a modern context the history of the Province
of Alberta and the contributions that men and women in public life
have made to the benefits that Albertans enjoy now.
To do this, it has chosen to exemplify the life of one of the
builders of the Province of Alberta, a teacher who became the Premier
in times of great hardship, a man who gave hope to the hopeless and
in so doing, helped to build the foundation of today's prosperity.
As he did, the Foundation intends to help students facing hardship
to opportunities that might otherwise be denied them, and to do this
is such a way that they, too, may be inspired by this example to go
and do something of their own for the betterment of Alberta society.
HISTORY AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES:
The Bible Bill Historical Foundation carries on the vision of
the former William Aberhart Historical Foundation created in January
2000 to develop and preserve the record of Alberta's 4th Premier.
The Bible Bill Historical Foundation was Incorporated as a Non-Profit
Company under the Alberta Companies Act in October of 2016.
The former foundation was created through the efforts of Arthur
Dixon, CM, former Alberta MLA (1952-1975) and speaker of the Alberta
Legislature (1967-1975). Mr. Dixon felt that there was much to learn
from the life and legacy of William Aberhart and that students and
others could benefit should a scholarship in William Aberhart's name
be available to students who have overcome hardship in their lives.
Foundaton Brochure Here (PDF)