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Perry, Harry G.T.
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H.G.T. (Harry) Henry George Thomas Perry is considered a founding father of Prince George. –Born March 18th, 1889 in Whitwick, Leicestershire, England, he was educated at Coalville Belvoir Road Wesleyan School and at Loughborough Grammar School. Perry was married to the former Florence Annie Smith of Leicestershire, England. They had two sons, Frank (later Judge Perry of Prince George) and Sidney (pharmacist). - H.G.T. Perry came to Canada in 1910 and to Prince George, British Columbia in 1912, on the BX Sternwheeler. He first established Perry's Shoe Store (a menswear establishment) and later established a real estate and insurance business. He founded the local faction of the Liberal Party in Prince George & Peace River area. He was the first President of the Fort George District & PG Local Liberal Associations from 1912 until he retired to Victoria c.1958. He was elected School Trustee in Fort George (P.G.) from 1912-1914. In addition, Perry was a director for the Prince George Theatre Ltd. and Chairman of the Joint Committee for Incorporation of PG. - Perry first served as President of the Board of Trade (1914) before entering civic politics and served as Prince George Mayor (1917-1918; and 1920) before entering provincial politics. He was also the owner and editor of several regional newspapers, including the Fort George Tribune, The Prince George Citizen, The Nechako Chronicle and the Prince Rupert Daily News. Perry went on to provincial politics running for the Liberal Party and was Speaker of the BC Legislature for Fort George from 1920-1928 & 1933-1945. During his political career he served also as Secretary and Chairman of the Municipal and Agricultural Committees of the Legislature and was a Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 1924 to 1928. Perry served also as Provincial Minister of Education from 1941-45. Perry also served as President of the BC Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association in the BC Parliament and attended its overseas conference of delegates in the UK during King George V Silver Jubilee Year in 1935. - HGT Perry is best known as Chairman of the provincial government’s Post-War Rehabilitation Council (1942-45), the first of its kind in Canada. Mr. Perry left provincial politics after an election defeat in 1945. Known as the “golden tongue orator”1 HGT Perry is also remembered for other improvements he oversaw as a provincial minister: improving educational facilities and teachers salaries in rural schools; for establishing Home Economics and Spanish courses at UBC; for instituting the Cameron Commission; for advocating for the rights of the Japanese, and others, during WWII, and is known as “the man who saved and extended the PGE.”2 In addition to these accomplishments, he played an instrumental role for many infrastructure projects: development of a highway south to the Cariboo Region; building of the Peace River Highway; reservation of one million acres of land in Central B.C. for veterans; creation of a Library distribution centre; and the extension of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Harry Perry died in Victoria, of a heart attack, in 1959 at the age of 70.
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Revised January 24, 2012.
1 “Harry Perry Dies here at 70,” Daily Colonist, Victoria, BC, Dec 27th, 1959, p. 3.
2 “The Late Harry G.T. Perry,” Oak Bay and District Leader, Dec 31st, 1959, p.4.