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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

Reverend Canon William Bertal Heeney (1873-1955)

Reverend Canon William Bertal Heeney and Mrs. Heeney, ca. 1928


Reverend Canon William Bertal Heeney and Mrs. Heeney, ca. 1928

Bertal Heeney, father of Arnold Heeney, was an Anglican minister, who wrote several books on theology and social issues. Also, he and his wife had a summer home in the Gatineau, not far from Kingsmere. King and Heeney became good friends, sharing an interest in religion and a love of the Gatineau.

Bertal Heeney was born at Danford Lake, Quebec. This is in the Gatineau Hills north of Ottawa. Heeney was educated at McGill University and the Montreal Diocesan Theological College. He then worked as an Anglican priest in several locales. In 1909, he became Rector of St. Luke's Church, Winnipeg, where he remained until his retirement in 1942.

He was the author of several books, mainly on theology and social issues. Early in 1933, he wrote to Mackenzie King, sending a copy of one of his sermons, on Christianity and socialism. King was impressed, because the principles expressed by Heeney were very close to his own ideals as expressed in Industry and Humanity. King invited Heeney to visit him at Kingsmere. Bertal Heeney, accompanied by his son Arnold, accepted this invitation in July 1933. King wrote in his diary: "I cannot but believe that the visit yesterday of Canon Heeney & his son, & the faith they shewed in me as a man, was a messenger from God, to give me strength in the hour of greatest need." (Diary, July 9, 1933)

King and Bertal Heeney became good friends, both being interested in religion and both having a deep appreciation for the Gatineau Hills. In the following years they met frequently. Sometimes Heeney and his wife would come to Kingsmere and sometimes King would visit them at their summer home at Danford Lake. After 1938, King's close association with Arnold Heeney added to his affection for the family. This was a friendship that King valued highly.

Library and Archives Canada holds some Bertal Heeney Papers (MG30-D164).