Charles Avery Dunning was born at Croft, Leicestershire, England, in 1885, and emigrated to Western Canada in 1902. He was employed as a farm hand near Yorkton, and within a year had filed on a homestead at Beaverdale, near Yorkton. He soon became associated with the local of the Territorial Grain Growers Association, and served that organization over a period of years as director and vice-president. He played a significant role in the realization of the demands of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association (which succeeded T.G.G.A.) for a provincial hail insurance scheme (established in 1913) and co-operatively-owned grain elevator system, which came into being in 1911.
C. A. Dunning was general manager of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company from the time of its establishment until 1916. Under his direction it grew to be the largest single grain handling company in the world.
In 1916 he resigned his post to enter the field of politics. In that same year, he entered the cabinet as Provincial Treasurer, a post he held for 10 years. After six years, during which he held several other Cabinet posts, including the Agriculture ministry, he succeeded the Hon. W. M. Martin as Premier. He remained as Premier until 1926. One of his last official acts as Premier was to arrange the sale of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company to the newly-organized Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
C. A. Dunningís first federal portfolio was that of Minister of Railways and Canals. Later he became Minister of Finance. In his time in the House of Commons as a member of the King government, he was often described as an able spokesman for the West, and the champion of the Prairie farmer. He played an important part in the completion of the Hudsonís Bay Railway, and the selection of Churchill as its terminus. The last 19 years of C. A. Dunningís life were spent in a successful career in the world of finance. He died in Montreal in 1958.