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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

Fred Alexander McGregor (1888-1972)

In 1909, Fred McGregor had just finished his freshman year at McMaster University and was working in Ottawa for the summer. He was soon assigned to work in the office for the newly appointed Minister of Labour, Mackenzie King, and came to admire King greatly.

In 1914, McGregor became King's Secretary and served with him while he was at the Rockefeller Foundation, from 1914 to 1918. Much later, McGregor wrote a book on King's life between his electoral defeat in 1911 and his becoming Liberal leader in 1919, entitled The Fall and Rise of Mackenzie King, 1911-1919 (published in 1962).

While King was Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Parliament (1919-1921) and Prime Minister (1921-1925), McGregor continued to serve as his Secretary. King's diary contains frequent references to McGregor, who worked diligently on many tasks and at all hours.

McGregor left King's staff and worked for nearly 25 years in other areas, as a Commissioner of the Combines Investigation Act and, during the war, as a member of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. In late 1949, when King was looking for someone to assist him in the writing of his memoirs, he hired McGregor. In early 1950, King wrote this comment about McGregor's work on the memoirs: "He does not yet begin to realize the task in its true perspective. However it is a godsend feeling he is there to take responsibility for seeing that things get done." (Diary, January 5, 1950)

During the final months of King's life, McGregor helped him with many personal matters. In King's will, McGregor was bequeathed $10,000. As well, he was named as one of the executors of the will and also one of the literary executors.

After King's death, it was decided that, because King's handwriting was very small and difficult to read, his handwritten diaries should be transcribed, so that they could be more easily consulted by people working on the biography. This deciphering, an enormous job, was done with great care by McGregor.

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