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A Real Companion and Friend:
The diary of William Lyon Mackenzie King

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Behind the Diary

A King's Who's Who Biographies

Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917)

Lord Grey in his office at Rideau Hall, 1909


Lord Grey in his office at Rideau Hall, 1909

Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey, was Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911. He is probably best remembered as the donor of the Grey Cup, for championship in Canadian football. He was a good friend of Mackenzie King and encouraged King's political aspirations.

Earl Grey, was Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911. He was a man of great energy and charm. He was an imperialist, who tried to strengthen ties within the British Empire. He also attempted to promote a closer relationship between Canada and the United States, and to bring Newfoundland into Confederation. He is probably best remembered as the donor of the Grey Cup, the trophy awarded to the champion team of the Canadian Football League.

While Grey was Governor General, Mackenzie King was an up-and-coming young man on the Ottawa scene. King was a frequent guest at Government House and he and Grey became good friends. King's diary contains many references to dinners and other social occasions at Government House, and to long walks and interesting talks with Grey. The Governor General was a humanitarian and, like King, an admirer of Arnold Toynbee.

Through Earl Grey, King met Violet Markham, when she was visiting the Greys at Rideau Hall in 1905. Miss Markham became one of King's closest friends.

King was made a Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) largely through the personal initiative of Earl Grey.

Earl Grey encouraged King's political aspirations. In 1908, Grey urged Prime Minister Laurier to send King as the Canadian representative to the International Opium Commission in Shanghai. King was interested in the trip but thought such a long absence from Canada might harm his political career. Grey urged him to accept this opportunity, and he also pressured Laurier to extend King's mission to India and to give him a secretary and an allowance for entertaining. Grey's support and encouragement were very helpful to King. In 1911, King told his mother,"...Earl Grey had been like a father to me." (Diary, February 3, 1911)

Their friendship continued after Grey's term of office ended. Following King's defeat in the election of 1911, Grey sent him a letter of encouragement. They corresponded regularly until 1917, when Grey died. In a letter of sympathy to Lady Grey, King wrote: "I am privileged ... in having known and had the friendship of one of the best and noblest of men."

Library and Archives Canada holds the Earl Grey Papers (MG27-IIB2).

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