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Description found in Archives

Mary Elizabeth Macdonald fonds [textual record, graphic material, sound recording]. 



Place of creation


32 cm of textual records.
462 photographs : 343 b&w and 119 col.
1 audio reel (ca. 30 min, 19 cm/s).
1 audio cassette (ca. 90 min).
1 poster.

Scope and content

Fonds documents the life and career of Mary Macdonald through textual records, photographs and sound recordings with particular emphasis on her volunteer service with the Red Cross during World War II and her long career as executive assistant to Lester B. Pearson. The fonds also contains a series of files pertaining to The Overseas Club, an organization of former members of the Canadian Red Cross who served overseas.

Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Sound recordings
90: Open
Textual records
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Textual records The finding aid is a file list of volumes 1 to 3. MSS2378 90 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

Mary Elizabeth Macdonald was born April 30th 1918 in North Cobalt, Ontario, the daughter of A.A. Macdonald of Antigonish, N.S. and Mollie A. Harrington of Bathurst, N.B. She spent much of her childhood in northern Ontario. In 1938, Mary graduated from the University of Ottawa with an Honours B.A. in philosophy. She later graduated with a Masters degree in Political Science in 1948. In 1941, Mary joined the Canadian Red Cross Corps and was sent to England in August 1943. She served at Canadian Red Cross headquarters in London until July 1944 when she was seconded to No. 12 Canadian General Hospital as a Welfare Officer and sent to France. Mary stayed with the Hospital in Belgium and France until it closed down in December 1945. She returned to Ottawa and joined the Department of External Affairs in February 1946.

The Department assigned Mary to work for Lester B. Pearson in 1947, and she remained with him as his private secretary and executive assistant until he retired from political life in 1968. She then worked as a Special Assistant to Pierre Elliott Trudeau until her retirement in 1979. Mary Macdonald was awarded the Order of Canada in 1980.

Additional information

Donated by Mary Macdonald in 2004.

Related materials
Library and Archives Canada holds two extensive oral history interviews with Mary Macdonald. Peter Stursberg interviewed Mary Macdonald, 30 June 1977 (Peter Stursberg fonds, MG 31 D78, former accession 1977-0117, duration 1 hour 29 minutes) in preparation for his book on Lester B. Pearson. The interview includes biographical information about Mary Macdonald in addition to a detailed discussion about Pearson. Tom Earle interviewed Mary Macdonald in 1984 (see Canada. Library of Parliament / Bibliothèque du Parlement: Tom Earle, Accession 1984-0180, duration 2 hours 7 minutes). This lengthy interview, actually three interview sessions, provides extensive biographical information about Mary Macdonald, Lester B. Pearson's political career and some discussion of Trudeau. Transcripts are available for both interviews. See also the Lester B. Pearson fonds, MG 26 N and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau fonds, MG 26 0 for additional related material.

Silver and Gold: A Pictorial Souvenir of the Mines of Northern Ontario (Cobalt, Ontario: The Cobalt Daily Nugget, Ltd, 1916). Transferred to the Rare Book Collection


Related control no.

1. 2005-0204 VSA
2. 2004-00878-4