Guest Commentary

Patricia Hilton

Mr. Aberhart

(Editor’s note: in 1935 Alberta elected the world’s first Social Credit government led by William Aberhart, a Calgary educator and radio evangelist who hosted the Back To The Bible Hour. Aberhart proposed “a new economic order” but inherited a bankrupt treasury, and saw much of his program struck down by the courts and Privy Council including price controls, regulation of banks and the printing of Alberta’s own currency. He died in office in 1943. Aberhart’s granddaughter Patricia Hilton recalled the man and his era in an April 1, 2008 interview with Blacklock’s publisher Holly Doan. Following is a transcription of Ms. Hilton’s remarks)

There was something magnetic about my grandfather. As children we didn’t really understand this at the time. To us he was just Grandpa. The first time I heard him speak in public, it was at an auditorium with 3,000 people and Grandpa came out on stage. There was my loving, wonderful, soft-spoken grandfather, and he started to speak and his voice boomed. The crowd hung on his every word.

The most important thing was his preaching, but the second greatest love for him on this earth was children. He just loved children. Everything he did, he gave full credit to Jesus. He said to me, “Patty, whatever job you take or person you fall in love with, if you take Jesus with you, you’ll succeed.” I never forgot that.

Everybody knew him on the radio. All of Alberta was just clinging to his words of hope, that Jesus would always be with them, and this suffering would not go on forever. They needed that lift. He would go out to little townships to preach and it broke his heart to see these little children with bare feet, eating gopher meat, and their little bellies all swollen.

He didn’t want to get into politics. He told me, “Patty, you’re lucky if you get one honest man in politics; you start out with a few that are crooked, and the rest are bought off.” He called it one of the dirtiest businesses to ever be in. I don’t think he regretted it afterwards. He knew that’s where the Lord was leading him, and that’s where he should be. There were no jobs, no work. People were starving, and he couldn’t bear it. He couldn’t bear watching the people starve.

He would tell us stories at night, Bible stories, like David and Goliath. He’d put a big blanket over his head and roar like Goliath. I remember the tenderness, and his laughter. He had such a big belly laugh, and when he started to laugh his whole stomach would move up and down and we’d be hysterical. My grandmother called him Belly Boy.

I’m probably a little bit prejudiced, but I think he bordered on genius. He’s the only man I ever met who knew the Bible by heart in three languages – Hebrew, Greek and English. He had a photographic memory.

When he was dying, I’d sit by him and read to him till Mom came home. At the end I sat holding his hand, and he looked up at Mom and said, “Would you read me the 23rd Psalm please?” She said, “Of course, Dad.” And she started: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” And halfway through he stopped breathing. That was the end.

I still miss his big hug. He made you feel so secure in his love.

Back to Top