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GLENGARRIANS IN ENGLAND IN THE 1920'S;


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A NOTE
by Royce MacGillivray

Two Glengarrians who were living in England in the 1920s have been particularly well remembered in Canada: Sir Edward Peacock and Sir Donald Macmaster. Peacock, who was born at St. Elmo in 1871, eleven years after Ralph Connor was born there, was a merchant banker, a director of the Bank of England, a financial advisor to the royal family, and the director of an impressive number of international companies. Macmaster, born at Williamstown in 1846, was nearing the end of a long and spectacularly successful life as the 1920s began. He had been MLA for Glengarry from 1879 to 1882, and MP from 1882 to 1887, while maintaining his career as one of the best known and most highly paid Canadian lawyers of his time. In 1905, at the age of 59, he moved to England to represent his Montreal law firm there. In effect, he began a new career, as a member of the English bar, and as a member of the British Parliament from 1910 to 1921.

Another Glengarrian living in England in the early 1920s was Mrs David Fraser. Born Harriet (Hattie) Cameron, and a niece of the legendary prospector Cariboo Cameron, she had married David Fraser, the son of Col. Alexander Fraser of Fraser's Point. David Fraser is one of those historical figures whose contemporary importance is hard for posterity to judge because it depended on their peculiar gifts of personality, which only the people who knew them in the flesh could share. Best remembered today as the secretary and political agent of Big Rory McLennan, he seems to have been adored by everyone who knew him. His obituary in the Glengarry News described him as "one of Glengarry's most widely known and illustrious sons." David Fraser died in 1899 at the early age of 44, leaving his widow and three children. Mrs David Fraser, a most remarkable person in her own right, worked for the Red Cross in London during the First World War. For a few years after the war, she operated a hostel in London for Canadians who were on their way to visit the war graves in France and Belgium. Sir Donald Macmaster had a long association with David Fraser and his wife. Fraser had been a law student in Macmaster's Montreal office. For some reason, he had not persevered in the study of the law, but Macmaster seems always to have had a particular regard for him, and Macmaster was, along with Mrs Fraser, one of the executors of David Fraser's will. Mrs Fraser was a part of the Macmaster family's social circle, and she may have been a relative of Macmaster through his mother, who was a Cameron. Mrs Fraser resettled in Canada before the end of the 1920s, and operated an antique business at Lancaster in the 1930s (Glengarry Life, 1980 ). She died in 1952.

Bernard Lauber of Williamstown went overseas with the Canadian Army in the First World War, and remained to become a member of the police force in Wigan, England. He rose to the rank of Detective Sergeant and is believed to have died about the late 1970s.

Archibald MacGillivray, of Alexandria, who had also gone overseas with the Army, remained in England for ten years after the war. He is said in his obituary in the Glengarry Newsof 29 March 1962 to have been secretary at some time during this period to the Canadian-born newspaper magnate, Lord Beaverbrook. Archibald MacGillivray worked in his later years for an oil company in the United States and died in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

David Beveridge Mair, perhaps the least known in his own county of all the remarkable Glengarrians there ever were, was born at Martintown in 1868. His father, the Rev. James Mair, was minister of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in that village. Shortly after David's birth, his father, who is darkly remembered in the Glengarry traditions to have had a drink problem, took his family to the United States, where he supported himself as a surveyor. He died about ten years later by drinking carbolic acid--probably by accident, while searching for alcohol. Mrs Mair, who was from the Scottish settlements to the east of Glengarry, along the Ottawa River, now took her children to Scotland to obtain the support of her husband's kinsfolk. The son, David Beveridge, had a successful career as an examiner in the British Civil Service, and was the author of a series of four much respected mathematics textbooks published between 1907 and 1926. He was a close relative and a friend of William Henry Beveridge, the economist better remembered under his ultimate title of Lord Beveridge, the author of the celebrated "Beveridge Report" of 1942. Beveridge is honoured as one of the principal founders of the modern Welfare State, and in that respect, a Glengarry native may be said to have been at the very centre of one of the most brilliant and ambitious of the humanitarian creations of the modern world.

Unhappily, Mair proved to be all too close to the centre, for Mair's wife, who was Beveridge's secretary, became emotionally attached to Beveridge. After Mair's death in 1942, Mrs Mair quickly married Beveridge. She evoked widespread dislike and is described in Beveridge's life in the Dictionary of National Biography as being "an overbearing and temperamental Scotswoman." In 1982 her son Philip Beveridge Mair published a book called Shared Enthusiasm in which he retold the story of his parents' association with Beveridge and tried to take the edge of what he thought of as the unjust strictures on his mother in the Dictionary of National Biography and the standard biography of Beveridge. David Beveridge Mair was an austere, over-restrained, and almost aggressively colourless man--but Beveridge was distinguished too for his chilly and "lifeless" demeanour, and it struck many people who knew him as most improbable that he could have any sex life whatsoever ! In transferring her affections from Mair to Beveridge, Mrs Beveridge clearly stayed within her chosen type of man! It would be interesting to know whether David Beveridge Mair ever revisited Martintown, and what connection he maintained with his mother's relatives. The fact that he appears in H. J. Morgan's Canadian biographical biographical dictionaries of 1898 and 1912 may be taken as evidence that he retained some Canadian contacts.

This article on Glengarrians in England in the 1920s could be paralleled with a similar description of Glengarrians on the prairies in the 1920s and 1930s. Ada MacDougall from Maxville, who was one of Sir Edward Peacock's many first cousins, was married to George N. Johnston, who was speaker of the Alberta Legislature from 1927 to 1935. (Her sister Violet was executive secretary to four governors of Virginia and married the fourth of them, John Garland Pollard). Dr Hugh Edwin Munroe, a Glengarrian from St. Elmo, was Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan from 1931 to 1936. When he retired he was immediately followed in office by another Glengarrian, Archibald P. MacNab, who hailed from the Breadalbane area and remained Lieutenant Governor till his death in 1945. Marian Stuart from the Green Valley area was the wife of R.G. Reid, who was premier of Alberta in 1934-1935. A little before this period, namely from 1911 to 1916, Sir Douglas Colin Cameron was Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. He was a "near Glengarrian," through having been born in Hawkesbury and educated at Vankleek Hill.


Printouts of the above three articles, or any one or two of them, can be obtained by contacting ALEX FRASER

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