Eiling Kramer: A great and most accomplished citizen

Eiling Kramer was born on July 14, 1914 to Dutch immigrants, Minne Dowe Kramer and Jacobina Kramer (Kopinga), in Highworth in the North Battleford district. The family included a brother, Herman, and a sister, Maria. He received his elementary and high school education at Highworth. He also completed a correspondence course from the New York School of Journalism.

At 6' 3", Eiling was big and strong, and it was said that the ladies were quite smitten by his commanding presence and rugged good looks. He worked at a number of jobs, including a stint as a policeman in North Battleford, before buying the Round Hill cattle ranch in 1942 where he raised registered Hereford cattle. In 1949, he established the highly successful Kramer Auctions in North Battleford.

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Eiling's successes in business were impressive, but they were overshadowed by his accomplishments in politics. Eiling was perhaps the most charismatic and likeable MLA ever to serve in Saskatchewan's Legislative Assembly. He served the Battlefords as an MLA for 28 years, which made him the longest serving member in the history of our province. He was affectionately referred to as the Dean of the Legislature by his colleagues. And, Eiling won re-election in every campaign he contested.

In the 1930s, Eiling associated himself with the United Farmers of Canada and the Farmer-Labor Party/Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). He organized the CCF in Northwest Saskatchewan in 1946. He was also instrumental in organizing the Saskatchewan Farmers' Union in 1950 and served as its vice-president in 1951-52.

Eiling was first elected as a CCF MLA in 1952. He was subsequently appointed as Minister of Natural Resources in 1962 by Premier Woodrow Lloyd and remained in this capacity until 1964. He also served in Allan Blakeney's government as both the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Co-operation and Co-operative Development from 1971-72. He was also Minister of Highways and Transportation from 1972-1980, Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Transportation Company from 1972-76, and the Highway Traffic Board from 1979-80. Eiling was appointed as Opposition critic of the government's policy when the CCF was defeated in 1964.

As Minister of Highways, Eiling was responsible for one of the greatest capital spending projects in the province's history. The result was that the province's highway system was almost completely paved. Other important accomplishments included the completion of the Battlefords Provincial Park, the building of a new bridge across the North Saskatchewan River linking the city of North Battleford and the town of Battleford, providing funding for Table Mountain Regional Park and twinning Highway 4 between the river and North Battleford. He was also instrumental in bringing in medicare and seat belt legislation.

The manner in which Eiling conducted himself was the stuff of legend. On one occasion, in response to the dumping of raw sewage in the North Saskatchewan River, Eiling brought a container of river water to the legislature and invited MLAs to take a drink. His point was made and the dumping stopped. Eiling had a talent for getting his points and ideas across.

In recognition of Eiling's contributions to our province and city, the provincial building in North Battleford, a street in the city and a beautiful campground in Battleford overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley were named after him.

Eiling Kramer retired from politics on Dec. 16, 1980. Shortly thereafter, he and his wife returned to North Battleford, and then relocated to Regina in 1999.

Eiling and Dorothy (Johnston) were married on Dec. 15, 1944. They enjoyed a wonderful marriage and were blessed with a large family of eight children: Carol, Neil, Clair, Leslie, Coleen, Timothy, Barbarie, and Jennifer, and many amazing grandchildren. His greatest interest in life was to spend time with family and friends at the Kramer's cabin on Jackfish Lake.

It was evident that Eiling Kramer was a highly successful businessman and politician who was very much in the public eye. But Eiling's personal life showed him to be a down-to-earth, gregarious man who was interested in people and who was close to the land. He never forgot a name and he believed there are no strangers, only new friends. He took a personal interest in everyone he met and often extended a helping hand to the unfortunate in our society.

Eiling's favourite reading material was Canadian history. His hobbies were hunting and fishing. His favourite foods were beef steak and beef roast with potatoes and gravy. He had great love for hunting wild game. And, Eiling loved snacking.

Sadly, Eiling passed away on May 5, 1999 in Regina. On the occasion of North Battleford's centennial, we are compelled to remember this extraordinary man who accomplished so much as a builder of our province and community. Indeed, Eiling Kramer, MLA, was one of the most illustrious citizens in the history of our city. To him we owe a profound and heartfelt thank you. (Sources: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan and Austin Higgs, Eiling Kramer's great grandson)

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