Canadian Astrology: Interpreting Alberta’s Natal Chart
Alberta was officially founded on September 1, 1905 with the passage of the Alberta Act. Saskatchewan was also founded on the same day, making Alberta and Saskatchewan “Time Twins” and forever linking the two provinces on an astrological level. I’ll look into this sometime in the future; for now I want to focus on delineating Alberta’s chart.
Because legislation comes into force at midnight in Canada, the midnight chart can be considered. Edmonton is the birthplace because it’s the capital city of Alberta.
You can also make an argument to use a noon chart on September 1, as that’s when a public ceremony was held to swear in George H.V. Bulyea as Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. Initially I favoured the noon time, but I compared both charts and I’m actually leaning towards the midnight one. Here’s the midnight chart:
The biggest feature of the chart is the mutable T-square with the Sun-Mercury-IC conjunction in the third house of Virgo at the apex, squaring Mars in the sixth house of Sagittarius and Jupiter in the twelfth house of Gemini. This means both the provincial leader (Sun) and the media/commerce (Mercury) were focused on inland transportation (road and railways) and telecommunications (third house). There were tensions impacting this focus coming from worker/union (sixth house) conflicts (Mars) as well as hidden issues (twelfth house) involving religious minorities, provincial wealth and the justice system (Jupiter).
The provincial leader at the time was Bulyea as well as Alexander Cameron Rutherford, who was appointed premier of Alberta the next day, on September 2, 1905. The third house was indeed the central focus of Rutherford and Bulyea. In the early 1900s, there was an immigration boom to Alberta which necessitated expansion of the railways and telecommunications network (Mercury, third house). In 1906, Rutherford established the Alberta Government Telephones utility throughout the province.
Building railways was also a huge mandate and a main focus of Alberta’s first government and that matches the Sun in the third house ruling the second house of provincial spending/wealth. At the time of inception, Alberta had a few railways and more were on the way, including the Grand Trunk Pacific linking Edmonton with the east and crossing the BC border west of Jasper. This was the rail line that built the Hotel Macdonald in downtown Edmonton in 1916. Railways were also what cost Rutherford his position as premier – more on that below.
According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, at the time of Alberta’s inception the political controversies included the rights of the Roman Catholic minority (Jupiter) to publicly funded separate schools (third house, possibly twelfth house) and the boundary with the new sister province of Saskatchewan (third house). There was also labour unrest involving coal miners and their unions (sixth house) which ended when Rutherford established a commission (Jupiter) that resulted in better health and safety at mine sites (sixth house) and workers compensation legislation (sixth house and Neptune in first house).
Another major thing that Rutherford was known for was the establishment of the University of Alberta in the town of Strathcona on the southern side of the North Saskatchewan River (now part of Edmonton). Universities are a ninth house topic and it’s notable that in the midnight chart, the ninth house contains no planets. However, the Midheaven is there and is a critical point in any chart, and especially here because it is opposite the apex of the mutable T-square and therefore receives its energy.
The University of Alberta’s motto is “Quaecumque Vera” which is Latin for “Whatsoever Things are True.” When I was a young student at the U of A, I found this a perplexing motto because it sounded like it was suggesting there were many truths and I thought I was supposed to be going to university to find The Truth. This is partly because the phrase is taken out of context from the original source, a verse from the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible – the epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians, Chapter 4, Verse 8. This is a translation from the King James version:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and there be any praise, think on these things.
Now that I’m older and have looked into it further, I realize the naivete of my earlier interpretation and how this motto actually does fit a university, for the entire point of higher learning is the pursuit of truth – not the attainment of a single immutable truth. Going back to the chart of Alberta’s inception, I think that having the ninth house of universities in Pisces, the most mutable of the signs where boundaries dissolve into the vast expanse of the formless ocean, is perfect. It is at these institutions where students wade through the ocean of human knowledge in search of truth. Pisces is also ruled by Jupiter, which is strongly connected to higher learning and universities, and in this chart Jupiter is disposited by Mercury in the third house conjunct the Sun, which again ties universities/higher education back to the provincial leader, Rutherford.
Founding the University of Alberta is Rutherford’s biggest legacy and was a key focus of his tenure as Alberta’s first mayor, so it’s very appropriate that the Midheaven is exactly opposite the Sun in the chart of Alberta’s inception.
There’s a secondary T-square, a cardinal one, that I want to consider as well. The degree aspects are a little wide but I still count this as a T-square – certainly by sign, but also by degree because the quick-moving Moon moves into a partile square with Neptune by noon: Moon in the fourth house of Libra at the apex squaring Uranus in Capricorn and Neptune in Cancer. Neptune is in the first house conjunct the Ascendant and Uranus is in the seventh house, a little wide to be considered a degree-based conjunction with the Descendant, but nonetheless co-present.
This puts the focus of public attention/common people (Moon) on the land, crops, buildings (fourth house), modified by tension from a left-wing socialist (Neptune) general environment (first house) and right-wing individualist (Uranus) relationship with the federal government (seventh house).
According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, the single most contentious issue at the time of Alberta’s inception was the federal government’s (seventh house) decision to retain control of Alberta’s (first house) crown lands and natural resources (fourth house). This was seen as “an attempt by the federal government to limit the autonomy of the new Prairie provinces, stimulate the economic strength and dominance of central Canada, and ensure the West remained an economic hinterland.”
This matches with the Moon’s position (public attention) in the fourth house of land/crops/natural resources and in the sign of Libra, which is about balancing relationships with others. The fourth house also signifies Alberta’s farms and mines, which were the main economic industries until the mid-20th century. The Moon is at the apex of that cardinal T-square and thus receiving tensions from both right-wing individualistic forces (Uranus) in Alberta’s relationship to the federal government’s structures and rules (seventh house of Capricorn) and the left-wing collectivist desires (Neptune conjunct Ascendant) of Alberta in general to share the general wealth and prosperity of Alberta (first house).
This aspect also displays the constant push-pull between the desires for individual entrepreneurship amongst farms and mines with the collectivist desires of things like worker unions. As The Canadian Encyclopedia describes it, during Alberta’s first decade resentment grew among farmers:
“[Farmers] believed that their status as independent entrepreneurs was being jeopardized by the railways, banks and grain-elevator companies. The rise of the United Farmers of Alberta as a political party, and their victory over the Liberals in the 1921 provincial election, was in part a result of this unrest. On a federal scale, during the 1920s, Alberta supported the Progressive Party of Canada in their battle for more populist policies, and a reduction in the national tariff and freight rates that served the interests of central Canadians but not those in the West. Alberta’s dissenting role against the policies of the federal government continued.”
This perpetual political tug-of-war is baked into Alberta’s inception chart: the opposition of Neptune in the first house and Uranus in the seventh house shows the polarity between provincial and federal government, conservatism and socialism, independence and collectivism. The seventh house is in Capricorn and therefore ruled by Saturn, which is in the eighth house of Aquarius – which Saturn also rules. So, there’s a strong Saturnian force ruling Alberta’s relationship (seventh house) and financial dealings (eighth house) with the federal government. Saturn imposes strict boundaries and control over Alberta’s business interests, which it forever chafes against.
At the time of Alberta’s inception, the Prime Minister of Canada (seventh house) was Wilfred Laurier, a passionate defender of individual liberty (Uranus), while Rutherford was a Liberal who promoted more left-wing ideals (Neptune in the first house conjunct Ascendant). Neptune also rules fraud and illicit activities and Rutherford was forced to resign as premier in 1910 after the Alberta and Great Waterways (A&GW) Railway Scandal, in which Rutherford and his government were accused of giving loan guarantees to private interests for the construction of the A&GW that substantially exceeded the cost of construction and paid interest way higher than market rate.
This is clearly seen in the Neptune conjunction with the Ascendant in Alberta’s inception chart, which puts it very much in line with Canada’s own inception chart that also has Neptune conjunct the Ascendant. The only difference is that in Alberta’s chart, the Ascendant is in Cancer – perhaps signifying Albertans’ strong sense of protection and defensiveness over our home and resources; in Canada’s chart the Ascendant is in Aries and speaks to the crusading nature that Canadians have taken on a federal level, which has been masked by a “we’re the polite good guy” Neptunian illusion/delusion.
Actually, there is some very interesting other synastry between the Canadian and Albertan chart. Mars is in the sixth house opposite Jupiter in the twelfth house of Canada’s chart, same as Alberta’s; in Canada’s chart the Sun is also conjunct the IC as well as Uranus at 8 degrees (Cancer), just like in Alberta’s chart the Sun and IC are conjunct at 8 degrees (Virgo).
Another important aspect is Saturn’s position in Aquarius in the eighth house conjunct the South Node. This signifies the province’s farmers, miners and mineral industries (Saturn) being caught up in financial dealings with others (eighth house) – such as the federal government taking the lion’s share of Alberta’s wealth derived from these industries due to retaining the rights over Alberta’s natural resources. This was certainly an issue of public sorrow, another Saturn signifier.
Pluto is hidden away in the twelfth house of this chart. Among other things, I consider Pluto to signify pipelines in mundane astrology. Perhaps this indicates that the source of Alberta’s future natural resource wealth – oil – was still hidden away underground. The oil boom didn’t start until the discovery of oil in Leduc on February 13, 1947, when Pluto was at 11 Leo – which is in the second house of Alberta’s provincial wealth. I’ll do a deeper look into that event later.
Before I end this (very long) post, I want to take a quick look at the noon chart for September 1, 1905:
In the noon chart, the mutable T-square has the Sun-Mercury apex conjunct the MC in the eleventh house, with Mars in the second house and Jupiter in the eighth house. So, this would mean the provincial leader’s focus was on eleventh house topics of parliament, legislation and local governments, modified by tension from conflict over provincial wealth and financial dealings with others (i.e. the likely the federal government). This certainly applies, but I it’s a lot more general and not as descriptive as the mutable T-square in the midnight chart between the third-sixth-twelfth house.
In the noon chart, the cardinal T-square has the Moon apex in the twelfth house, Neptune in the ninth house and Uranus in the third house. This puts the focus of the public attention/common people (Moon) on hidden things and cloistered institutions like hospitals and prisons, modified by tension from right-wing influences (Uranus) on transportation and telecommunication (third house) and left-wing influences (Neptune) on higher education, law courts and shipping (ninth house). While Neptune in the ninth house matches Rutherford’s focus on education, and you could argue that the left-wing/right-wing tension across the ninth/third house shows the opposite forces in universities and law courts vs. railway and telecommunication companies, I just don’t think it fits as well as the placements in the midnight chart. I also don’t think the Moon in the twelfth house really matches where the public focus was at this time; the public was focused on the land, railways and jobs associated with these things – much more fourth house topics, as is found in the midnight chart.
So, I’ve settled on using the midnight chart for Alberta’s inception. I’m happy to hear any comments or contrary opinions!