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Sir Arthur George Doughty, ca. 1925-1935
Arthur Doughty was Dominion Archivist, from 1904 to 1935. Early in his career in Ottawa, he and Mackenzie King met and they became friends. King expressed appreciation for Doughty's scholarship and his enthusiasm for his work. Doughty shared King's interest in spiritualism and may have been the person who introduced him to table rapping. After Doughty's death, King was instrumental in having a statue erected in his honour.
Arthur Doughty was born in England and came to Canada in 1886. In 1897, he joined the Quebec public service. He was joint Legislative Librarian of Quebec when, in 1904, he was appointed Dominion Archivist and Keeper of the Public Records.
Under his leadership, the Public Archives of Canada undertook to locate and list important archival material in different areas of Canada. Doughty was very active in acquisitions, from within Canada and from Europe. As well as textual material, maps, documentary art and portraits, he collected flags, medals, uniforms and a wide variety of other artifacts. He wrote or edited a number of books, on topics such as the Siege of Quebec and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, 1759; Canadian constitutional documents, and the 23-volume work Canada and its Provinces, which Doughty edited with Adam Shortt. In 1935, Doughty was honoured with a knighthood - an extraordinary honour for a civil servant.
Early in Doughty's career in Ottawa, he and Mackenzie King met and they quickly became friends. In 1906, King wrote of Doughty: "He is the most interesting man I have met in Ottawa, a great enthusiast in his work and a scholar." (Diary, January 3, 1906) In 1911, King mentions: "Doughty had dinner with me & we had interesting talk on Archives." (Diary, January 10, 1911) In the 1920s, Doughty had some pamphlets bound for King. Doughty shared King's interest in spiritualism and may have been the person who introduced King to table-rapping. (Diary, November 13, 1933)
When King was visiting the White House in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of Doughty and the "splendid" work he had done for the Archives, and about some genealogical material on the Roosevelt family which he had sent to the President. (Diary, November 8, 1935)
After retiring in 1935, Doughty died on December 1, 1936. King issued a statement, saying: "In Sir Arthur Doughty's passing, our country has lost an invaluable public servant, and the Capital a beloved and distinguished citizen. ... The Public Archives of Canada were essentially his own creation."
The next day, King proposed that a statue of Doughty be erected on the grounds of the Archives. "I pointed out that we erect statues to royalty, soldiers, statesmen, etc., but that the men who were doing the real work of public service were often overlooked. I thought this was a chance to honour ... an outstanding public servant who had given his entire life to the country's work, and had left a store of Canadiana of priceless value." (Diary, December 2, 1936) King was actively involved in the design of the statue, which was placed on the grounds of the Archives (then on Sussex Drive) and is now located on the north side of Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington Street. This statue is a unique honour for Doughty.
Library and Archives Canada holds the Arthur Doughty Papers (MG30-D26).