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Description found in Archives

Oscar Douglas Skelton fonds [textual record, graphic material]. 



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

2.47 m of textual records.
166 photographs b&w, 21 negatives.
1 sketchbook.
1 album of graphic material.
1 drawing.
1 print lithograph.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of correspondence, diaries, notes, reports, speeches, articles, drafts of The Life of Laurier, and other documents relating to the activities of Dr. Skelton during his teaching career at Queen's University and his career with the Department of External Affairs. Fonds contains graphic material including: photographs depicting events, cities and towns, and individuals associated with the life and political career of Wilfrid Laurier, published as illustrations in Oscar D. Skelton's, Life and Letters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier; photographs depicting events and individuals associated with the career of Oscar D. Skelton; and anthropomorphic caricatures of animals, caricatures of people, imaginary creatures; and a portrait of Louis Joesph Papineau, 1832-1937.

Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
Textual records
90: Open
from 1 to 13
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Photographs: No restrictions except on material by Y. Karsh (for Karsh photographs, see accession 1987-054). Copyright expired. Credit: Name of photographer / National Archives of Canada / Copy negative no. Art: No restrictions. Copyright expired.

Textual records: The finding aid is a file list. MSS1897 (Paper)

Textual records: Finding aid. MSS1897 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

Oscar Douglas Skelton was born in Orangeville, Ontario on July 13, 1878 to Jeremiah and Elizabeth (Hall). He completed his B.A. in Classics at Queen's University in 1898 and his M.A. in 1899. In 1900, Skelton went to the University of Chicago to do graduate work. By 1901 Skelton was pursuing a career as a journalist, working as the assistant editor of The Booklovers Magazine in Philadelphia and taking freelance work. In 1904 Dr. Skelton married Isabel Murphy who became a writer on Canadian history and literature. The following year, Skelton returned to the University of Chicago to do doctoral work in the area of political economy. In 1906 he accepted a fellowship offered by Queen's. Upon receipt of this doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1908, Queen's University offered Dr. Skelton the position of Professor of Political Science and Economy. His teaching career at Queen's continued until 1919 when he became the Dean of Arts.

Dr. Skelton's association with the Department of External Affairs began in the 1920s. Impressed by a speech given by Dr. Skelton in 1922 on Canada and foreign policy, Prime Minister Mackenzie King sent Dr. Skelton to the Imperial Conference of 1923 as a special advisor. Later in the year, the Prime Minister appointed Dr. Skelton Counsellor in the Department of External Affairs. Upon the retirement of Joseph Pope in 1925, Dr. Skelton was appointed Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, a post that he held until his death in 1941. During his years with the Department, he served both Prime Minister Mackenzie King and R.B. Bennett. He developed a close professional and personal relationship with Mackenzie King.

In addition to his abilities as a teacher and a senior civil servant, who is regarded as the architect of the professional civil service in Canada, Dr. Skelton was also a scholar. His first success came in 1910, when he won one thousand dollars for an essay, "The Case Against Socialism", which was later expanded into a pamphlet entitled Socialism: A Critical Analysis. Other works include the Day of Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1916) and The Life and Times of Sir A.T. Galt (1920). Perhaps his most well-known work is his biography of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, The Life and Times of Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1921).

For further biographical information about Dr. Skelton, see J.L. Granatstein's The Ottawa Men: The Civil Service Mandarins, 1935-1957 (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1982) or John Hilliker's Canada's Department of External Affairs. Vol. 1 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990).

Additional information

A small portion (10 cm) was received between 1960 and 1972. The remainder was received in 1992 and 1993 from his daughter, Mrs. Sheila Skelton Menzies.

Subject heading

1. Canada - Officials and employees, [1925-1941] League of Nations, [1904-1937]
2. Canada - Foreign relations, 1923 Joseph Pope, [1924-1940]
3. Naturalization, 1923 R.B. Bennett, [1924-1940]
4. Queens University - Faculty, [1908-1940] Rowell-Sirois Commission, [1924-1940]
5. Universities and colleges - Teachers, [1908-1919] Canada. Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations, [1924-1940]
6. Canada. Parliament - Disolution, [1924-1940] Canada. Dept. of External Affairs, n.d., 1924-1940]
7. Legislative bodies - Canada - Disolution, [1924-1940] Clifford Clark, [1908-1923]
8. Czechoslovakia - Commerce, [1924-1940] Mackenzie King, [1908-1923]
9. Maritime rights, [1924-1940] Adam Shortt, [1908-1923]
10. Geneva Conference, [1924-1940] International Conference on the History of America, [1908-1923]
11. Foreign relations, [1924-1940] Canada. Royal Canadian Navy, [1908-1923]
12. Saint Lawrence Seaway, [1924-1940]
13. Imperial Economic Conference, 1930.
14. Sir Wilfrid Laurier - Biography, [1899-1952]
15. Imperial defence, [1904-1937]
16. Canada - Emigration and immigration, [1904-1937]
17. Europe - Reconstruction, [1904-1937]
18. Language and languages, [1904-1937]
19. Economy, [1904-1937]
20. Oscar Douglas Skelton - Diaries, 1898-1937.
21. Reconstruction, (1914-1939)
22. Imperial Conference (1923: London, England) .
23. Haydon Andrew.
24. Politique et gouvernement Canada
25. Politics and government Canada


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1992-623 DAP
2. 119-020145-3
3. 121-020081-3
4. 2001-00238-6