Ishbel Maria Marjoribanks Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen, 1909
Ishbel Gordon, Lady Aberdeen, was the wife of the Governor General of Canada (1893-1898). She was instrumental in setting up the Canadian branch of the National Council of Women, and she founded the Victorian Order of Nurses. Mackenzie King first met the Aberdeens in 1894, and later, when he visited England, they became good friends. In 1934, Lady Aberdeen introduced King to automatic writing, a technique of spiritualism.
Ishbel Gordon, Lady Aberdeen, was the wife of the Governor General of Canada (1893-1898). She was instrumental in setting up the Canadian branch of the National Council of Women and, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, she founded the Victorian Order of Nurses. Queen's University awarded her an honorary doctorate in law; she was the first woman to receive this honour from a Canadian university.
Mackenzie King first met the Aberdeens when they visited the University of Toronto in 1894. King acted as a student footman for their sleigh. "I ... showed them into their carriage then I ran along side it & talked to the Governor General and Lady Aberdeen all the way to Victoria College. I enjoyed the conversation with them very much." (Diary, February 16, 1894) Later when he visited Britain in the course of his political life, he renewed this acquaintance, and became a friend of the Aberdeens.
While King was in London, England, in October 1934, Lady Aberdeen introduced him to automatic writing, a technique of spiritualism. She had been using it to contact her husband, who had died earlier that year. King noted in his diary: "Lady Aberdeen rang me up from Scotland & we had a long & most interesting talk together, during which she told me of having had evidence of Lord Aberdeen's cont'd existence from automatic writing...." (Diary, October 12, 1934) Lady Aberdeen arranged for King to have a session of automatic writing with a medium, Mrs. Dowden, in London on October 23, 1934. King was sufficiently interested that he returned to the medium the following day. After that, he had occasional sittings with mediums who used automatic writing.
The Aberdeens wrote a book entitled We Twa: Reminiscences of Lord and Lady Aberdeen, about their life, including their years in Canada. Library and Archives Canada holds papers of Lord and Lady Aberdeen (MG27-IB5).