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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

Frederick Wellington Gibson (1920-1992)

Frederick Gibson was born in Kingston, Ontario, and was educated at Queen's University (B.A., 1942; M.A., 1944). In 1946, he had just completed his first year of doctoral studies at Harvard when he learned that Prime Minister Mackenzie King was looking for someone to help organize his papers. Gibson contacted J.W. Pickersgill, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, who was impressed enough to arrange for the young man to come to Ottawa for an interview with the Prime Minister.

King's diary gives a detailed account of this interview, including Gibson's admission that his father had been a strong supporter of Sir John A. Macdonald, a Conservative. But, King wrote of Gibson: "He himself had always been sympathetic to our administration and he himself an admirer of myself." (Diary, September 10, 1946)

Gibson, who had previously arranged the papers of J.W. Dafoe, planned to become a professor of Canadian history. The experience of working on King's Papers would be invaluable for him.

Gibson was hired as a temporary Special Officer with the Public Archives of Canada, for six months (October 1946-April 1947) with the possibility of an extension. In fact, he stayed until September 1952. Originally he was only to arrange the papers and not be involved in writing King's memoirs. But after King's death and the hiring of Professor Robert MacGregor Dawson to write the biography, Gibson assisted Dawson with the research.

After his work on the King Papers, Gibson became a professor of history at Queen's University, where he remained from 1952 to 1985.

The F.W. Gibson Papers are at Queen's University.

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