28 June 2014

Mackenzie King Attends the Funeral of Peregine Acland's Mother & Visits Wilfred Campbell's Grave

I had a half hour's rest after luncheon before going into the city to attend Mrs. Acland's funeral. Went in with Hendy by station car, changed to large car before Rideau Club. At the house on Bronson Ave. was shown to a seat on a couch by Mr. Acland. He looked & was very frail – is 88 (his wife was over 90). He held on to my arm during the service & afterwards I sat with him a short time, while the flowers were taken out, then went with Mary & Peregrine to the cemetery. There was only one other car with some relatives. It was a beautiful afternoon & the scene at the cemetery was quite peaceful. Kind words were spoken by those who had come down. Later Lay and I sought out Wilfrid [sic] Campbell's grave & spent a few moments there. — a beautiful restful spot.
An entry in Mackenzie King's diary, dated sixty-five years ago today, gives evidence of a more civilized Ottawa. The former prime minister was in the eighth month of his retirement from politics when "Mrs. Acland", wife of Frederick Albert Acland and mother of Peregrine Acland, died. The entry gives little sense of the high regard and warmth with which King held the Acland family. Their paths first crossed in 1895 when "Mr. Acland" hired a twenty-year-old Mackenzie King to write for the Globe. Other aspects of their working relationship can be seen in Mrs Acland's Ottawa Citizen obituary (27 June 1949):

During the Second World War, King hired Peregrine, author of All Else is Folly, to act as advisor, press officer and secretary. The younger Acland held the positions until the prime minister's retirement, oversaw the transition to successor Louis St Laurent, then became a manager at a Toronto advertising firm. It's likely that it was he who placed this obituary in the Globe & Mail (27 June 1949):

The prime minister's friendship with William Wilfred Campbell began in 1902 when the poet wrote "H.A. Harper" in memory of King's friend Bert Harper, who had drowned in the Ottawa River whilst trying to save a young woman who had fallen through the ice.

Curiously, throughout King's diaries Wilfred Campbell is referred to invariably as "Wilfrid Campbell"; the influence of that other great Liberal prime minister Wilfrid Laurier, perhaps.

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