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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

Peter Charles Larkin (1856-1930)

Peter Charles Larkin, 1927

Source

Peter Charles Larkin, 1927

Peter Larkin was a businessman and a Liberal, a close friend of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Mackenzie King. In the early 1920s, Larkin and other wealthy Liberals undertook an extensive renovation of Laurier House, to prepare it for King, and Larkin personally contributed many items. In the late 1920s, Larkin headed a group of friends who raised a $225,000 trust fund for King. King liked Larkin very much and was deeply grateful to him. This photograph of Peter Larkin's portrait, signed and dated September 14, 1927, is from King's personal collection.

Peter Larkin was a businessman, active in public life and a patron of the arts. He was Vice-President of the Salada Tea Company of Canada. He was a Liberal, a close friend of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and of Mackenzie King.

When Lady Laurier died in 1921, she bequeathed Laurier House to King. Peter Larkin and other wealthy Liberals undertook an extensive renovation of the house, and Larkin personally contributed pictures, china, silver and furniture. King's diary contains many references to Larkin and comments about his kindness; for example, "What a true and good friend he has been." (Diary, January 15, 1923)

King also wrote: "...Mr. Larkin told me not to be concerned about maintenance of Laurier House & the future that he was working that out...." (Diary, August 25, 1924)

In 1922, Larkin was appointed Canadian High Commissioner to Great Britain. When King travelled to Britain, he would see Larkin, and Larkin made frequent trips back to Canada. King consulted him on many matters concerning Laurier House and also on issues of public policy.

In the late 1920s, a group of friends, headed by Larkin, raised a fund of $225,000 for King, to give him political independence. (Diary, January 14, 1929) King described Larkin as: "the truest friend of my life, and a friend such as one man in a million has had, a truly noble character.... He has given me nearly all I possess... & with it a sense of security which without him I could never have had...." (Diary, January 29, 1930)

Larkin died on February 3, 1930, while still in office as High Commissioner. King wrote that Laurier, Mulock and Larkin were "my closest & most intimate & best friends." (Diary, February 10, 1930)

Library and Archives Canada holds some P.C. Larkin Papers (MG27-IIIE1).

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