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Mathilde Grossert, 1916
Mathilde Grossert was a nurse, working in Chicago, when Mackenzie King met her in 1897. They became very close, and considered becoming engaged, but King's family objected, and King and Mathilde also seem to have had doubts. Their close relationship ended late in 1898, but they remained friends through correspondence, until shortly before King's death. This photograph is from King's personal collection.
Mathilde Grossert, a nurse and recent immigrant from Germany, was working in Chicago in 1897 when Mackenzie King met her. In the transcript diary, she is referred to as Miss [B]. King and Mathilde developed a very close relationship, even though she was older than he. King described her in glowing terms in the diary. He said that he saw in her "all the goodness purity & greatness that God ever gave to woman." (Diary, March 18, 1898) He sent her a long letter, declaring his love for her. (Diary, March 18, 1898) After some consideration, she sent him a telegram, saying, "My answer, yes...." (Diary, April 7, 1898) But when he informed his family, they were quick to voice their disapproval. Both King and Mathilde also had doubts about becoming engaged. Their close relationship ended later that year.
Mathilde eventually married George Barchet. King and Mathilde maintained a friendship through correspondence that usually included an exchange of Christmas greetings. In 1932, the Barchet family home was destroyed by fire, and King sent $250 to help them. The correspondence between Mathilde and Mackenzie King continued until shortly before his death.