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Fulford Place National Historic Site
Oil on canvas
Artist: John Wycliffe Lowes Forster (1850-1938)
Used with permission of the Ontario Heritage Foundation
Mary Fulford was the wife of George Fulford of Brockville, Ontario. The family were prominent Liberals. Mary Fulford shared Mackenzie King's interest in spiritualism and, in 1932, she introduced King to the Detroit medium, Etta Wriedt. King attended séances with Etta Wriedt at the Fulford home in Brockville and, when King invited her to Ottawa, Mary Fulford attended séances with them there.
Mary Wilder White, who came from an upper-class American family, married George Taylor Fulford of Brockville, Ontario, in 1880. They lived in Brockville and had three children: Dorothy, Martha and George, Jr. The father, George Fulford, Sr., operated a drugstore business, which was modest at first, and later found wealth in patent medicines, particularly "Pink Pills for Pale People." The Fulfords then built an elegant home called Fulford Place.
The Fulfords were Liberals and were friends of Sir Wilfrid and Lady Laurier. Laurier arranged for Mary to be presented to Queen Victoria in 1899, and he appointed George, Sr. to the Senate in 1900. Five years later, George, Sr., aged only 53, was fatally injured in a car accident, leaving Mary to care for their young son and adult daughters.
Mackenzie King met Mary Fulford through the Lauriers. In 1907, Sir Wilfrid and his wife made an attempt at matchmaking between Mackenzie King and the Fulfords' daughter Martha, who had recently been widowed, but this effort was not successful. In 1927, when King was Prime Minister, and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and then Duke of Windsor) and the Duke of Kent visited Canada, George Fulford, Jr. suggested that the royal visit include Brockville. King made the necessary arrangements, and he travelled with the princes to Fulford Place and aboard the Fulfords' steam yacht Magedoma.
Correspondence between Mary Fulford and Mackenzie King began in the 1920s and, by the early 1930s, she is regularly mentioned in his diary. She and King were both interested in spiritualism. In February 1932, Mary Fulford introduced King to the Detroit medium Etta Wriedt. King attended seances with Mrs. Wriedt at Fulford Place. Mary Fulford visited King in Ottawa on several occasions and attended seances with him there.
On vacation in 1937, King stayed at the Fulfords' winter home in Florida. For the opening of the Thousand Islands International Bridge in 1938, he stayed at Fulford Place. Even after the death of Mary Fulford in 1946, King remained on friendly terms with the family.
Fulford Place in Brockville, Ontario, is now a national historic site.