After the highly popular Lord and Lady Dufferin left Canada to return to England, Canada would receive a new Governor General in the form of John Campbell, the 9th Duke Of Argyll and the Marquis of Lorne.
Born on Aug. 6, 1845 in London to George, the Marquess of Lorne and Lady Elizabeth Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Campbell was titled as the Earl of Campbell from his birth.
Educated at Edinburgh Academy, St. Andrews and Trinity College, as well as Cambridge and the National Art Training School, he would spend his adulthood travelling throughout North and Central America writing travel literature and poetry. He would complain later in his life that his education did not prepare him for his career in writing. He would say quote:
“The living Britain, her colonies and dependencies, the living action in European and other states, we were not taught to know.”
In 1866, Campbell would visit Canada for the first time when he took a tour of North America and the Caribbean. He would call Toronto too dull for words, but he liked Kingston. While in Ottawa, he dined with Charles Monck, the first Governor General of Canada.
After his tour of North America, he spent time in the University of Berlin to improve his German, and travelled to Italy as well.
In 1868, he would be elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons. Overall, he made little in the way of impressions there. The London World would say he was quote:
“a non-entity in the House of Commons, and a non-entity without.”
From 1866 until the 1880s, he would serve as the Lt. Colonel Commandant of the 1st Argyll and Bute Artillery Volunteers.
In 1867, he would publish his book A Trip To the Tropics and Home Through America.
On March 21, 1871, Campbell married Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. This would be the first time that a legitimate daughter of the sovereign had married a subject of the Crown since 1515.
The couple had a great love for the arts together but their marriage was described as unhappy. They would have no children together. They spent much of their time apart during their marriage. Princess Louise was described as outgoing and vivacious, while Campbell was quiet and more of an observer than a doer.
On Nov. 25, 1878, Campbell would take over as the Fourth Governor General of Canada. At 33, he became the youngest Governor General of Canada and the first representative of Queen Victoria to have been born during her reign.
Queen Victoria was at first not in favour of the appointment. The Montreal Star would report one person stating quote:
“The Queen, when I first spoke of it, thought that she would not like her daughter to be so far, but on considering that Canada is now only 10 days off, and that you might return home every year, and after sleeping over it, she was quite in favor of the proposal.”
This generated a great deal of excitement within Canada since there would be a member of the Royal Family living at Rideau Hall for the first time in Canadian history.
The Montreal Gazette would report quote:
“There is no doubt that special interest has been felt in the arrival of His Excellency, from the fact that he is accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise, and that for the first time in the history of this country the vice-regal residence is to be graced by the presence, as its mistress, of a Princess of the blood Royal.”
Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, who had just been returned to power in the October election, altered his schedule to ensure he could prepare for the arrival of Campbell and Princess Louise. He would also order a special carriage and guards to protect her.
It would be written of the appointment quote:
“The appointment was hailed with satisfaction in all parts of the Dominion, and the new Governor General entered upon his term of office, with the hearts of the people strongly prepossessed in his favour.”
The Toronto Mail would write of the appointment quote:
“With fine natural gifts, with more than the ordinary culture of educated men, with the experience of a politician, with moreover, the mistakes and successes of many predecessors before him, Lord Lorne will enter on his vice-regal duties with the happiest attitude.”
While politicians and citizens were happy that the couple were coming, the press had a different take on it. Many journalists expressed irritation at the imposition being put on the country by royalty.
As it would turn out, the couple were not rigid but more relaxed than their predecessors, even Lord and Lady Dufferin. They would host skating and toboggin parties, balls, dinners and much more.
Despite the excitement for a member of the Royal Family coming to Canada, the reception for Campbell was less than what was seen for Lord Dufferin’s arrival. The Montreal Gazette would publish a letter to the editor that stated quote:
“The little I see done in my native city towards the reception of the coming Governor General fills me with sorrow.”
The first task for Campbell was the appointment of Canada’s first high commissioner to Britain. The British government was against the idea, as it gave further independence to Canada, but Campbell would convince them of the idea. For Canada, having its own representative in London for treaty negotiations was important.
Almost immediately, Campbell was faced with a political challenge. In 1878, Quebec Lt. Governor Luc Letellier dismissed a premier who still had the confidence of the legislature. Campbell would get advice from the British government and then accept the advice of Prime Minister Macdonald that Letellier be dismissed from office. The French-Canadian press criticized Campbell over this and called him a foe of freedom.
In Canada, Campbell and Princess Louise would establish the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in March 1880, and the National Gallery of Canada. While Campbell created the gallery, the government of Canada thought little of it and from 1887 to 1911, it shared premises with a fisheries exhibition.
Campbell would write to his father of the Royal Canadian Academy, stating quote:
When the National Gallery opened in Ottawa, Campbell visited on its first day and was said to quote:
“point out to his friends the many beauties of the works of art on exhibition.”
On Feb. 14, 1880, Princess Louise was severely hurt in a sleigh accident when it overturned throwing the coachman and footman out, and dragging her in the sleigh for 370 metres. She was knocked unconscious when she hit her head on the iron bar on the roof. The doctors who attended to her said it was a wonder her skull had not fractured. In the accident, her earring had caught on the sleigh, tearing her earlobe in two.
Parliament would issue a proclamation regarding the incident, stating quote:
“We, Her Majesty’s faithful subjects, the Senate of Canada, in Parliament assembled, desire to approach you with our hearty congratulations on the escape of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Louise and yourself from the serious danger occasioned by the untoward accident which happened to you on the 14th.”
The press would play down the incident on instructions from Campbell’s personal secretary. Very little was published of the incident in Canadian newspapers and she would leave for England soon after the incident.
Like Lord Dufferin, Campbell was very interested in Canada and Canadians.
On Aug. 8, 1881, he would begin a tour of the prairies, leaving Portage La Prairie with a large party from Rideau Hall, a North-West Mounted Police escort and several journalists. In all, there were 77 men and 96 horses. For Campbell, the trip was an eye-opener and he was stunned by the beauty of the Canadian West.
While in Manitoba, he would lay the corner stone of Manitoba College. While visiting Emerson, Manitoba and a local Mennonite settlement, a dinner party was held. As they continued west, the artillery fired a salute and the crowd gave three cheers for the Governor General.
It was hoped by the government and the media in the east that the trip out west would show Europeans that there was ample space to settle in the Canadian Prairies. The Montreal Gazette would report quote:
“The trip of the Governor General will doubtless assist in dispelling a part at least of this ignorance and in teaching us what are the nature and what are the capabilities of the great country we possess on the other side of the Atlantic.”
He would travel throughout the west and even meet with the Indigenous, something other Governors General had not done. The Indigenous artifacts he collected would end up in the British Museum.
At one point on the tour he found a Smithsonian museum team removing Indigenous artifacts. He would help the Royal Society sponsor its own expeditions to keep the artifacts within Canada.
While traveling from Fort Qu’Appelle to Prince Albert in mid-August, the party was dealing with a very hot summer and severe thunderstorms. They would also cross the South Saskatchewan River, with only one wagon tipping, in a process that took five hours.
The Montreal Gazette wrote quote:
“The whole party was much struck with great fertility of the district. A council of Indians was held early on the 16th and lasted four hours. Several Cree chiefs addressed His Excellency, who assured them that the Government was always anxious to help those who showed an inclination to help themselves by working.”
Throughout the tour in September, the Governor General and his party continued to marvel at the beauty of the landscape. The Ottawa Daily Citizen reported quote:
“They were astonished at the magnificent appearance of the crops, which are reported to have been excellent along the line of the route. Among other things, the Marquis and party expressed the highest admiration for the discipline and vigorous endurance of the Mounted Police.”
Upon the party’s return to Winnipeg at the end of September, a public banquet was held for the citizens of the city.
On Sept. 30, the Kemptville Advance reported quote:
“The Governor General’s party is still progressing in the North West. Most favourable reports are brought as to the fertility of the soil and the great value of the country, for grain producing and grazing purposes.”
The trip would last until October 1881. Through the expedition, he would make speeches in various communities and his sketches were published by the newspapers. He would also speak with Sir John A. Macdonald about the concerns of the Metis and the Indigenous, and he would ask that the North West Mounted Police be strengthened.
Thanks to this trip, he would find he enjoyed being in Canada more than Britain.
He would return to England to visit Princess Louise during the winter of 1881-82, but he found himself missing Canada and its quote:
“bright light and the dry and beautiful snow with its sapphire coloured shadows.”
Campbell returned to Canada in September 1882 with Princess Louise, visiting British Columbia. He was in British Columbia when CPR manager William Van Horne announced the discovery of the Rogers Pass, where the CPR would be built through in short order. Upon their arrival, they were escorted by 25 men on horses as a band led the way through the city.
D.W. Higgins of the Victoria Daily Times would report years later quote:
A special concert would also be held for the couple on Sept. 24, 1882 in Victoria.
The Brantford newspaper would report quote:
“The Governor General and Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise have been most cordially welcomed in British Columbia.”
The tour would take them as far north as Port Simpson, near Prince Rupert.
Higgins would report in 1914, quote:
“The Governor General visited all the settled parts of the province and was able to report to the federal government when he returned to Ottawa that many of its valleys were susceptible of settlement, grazing and the raising of crops.”
On Oct. 23, 1883, realizing that his life and marriage required him to resign as Governor General, he did so. He had served five of the six years normally required. It was not an easy decision. He would tell Prime Minister Macdonald quote:
“I should still like to stay here all my days.”
The Montreal Gazette reported quote:
“At eleven today, His Excellency the Governor General and Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise took their final departure from Ottawa. Large crowds cheered them on the way to the station where they bade farewell to the members of the Ministry and a large number of prominent citizens.”
For Princess Louise, her time in Canada had not always been happy but she would always express a fondness for Canadians.
He would return to England where he published the book Memories of Canada and Scotland.
Poet Frederick Dickson would write a poem about Campbell, which relates quote:
“No wasted years were these you spent
We know your rule has made us glad
No word you ever spoke but had
Some kindly aim, some wise intent.”
In 1892, he would become the president of the London Committee For The Restoration Of The Library Of the University of Ontario, which had the mission to restore the library that had been destroyed by fire. The fire had also consumed 30,000 books in the library.
Campbell would become the Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle from 1892 to 1914, and sat as a Member of Parliament from 1895 to 1900, when his father died. During this time, he would write Canadian Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil and Yesterday and Today in Canada. After the death of Queen Victoria, he would write a biography of her which proved to be very popular.
In 1906, he would go to Egypt but found he disliked it. His sister would write quote:
“His heart, is always in Canada.”
Princess Louise and Campbell would drift apart over time but reconciled in 1911.
He would pass away from pneumonia on May 2, 1914. Princess Louise was at his bedside as he passed away.
Princess Louise would pass away on Dec. 3, 1939.
Within Canada, several buildings are named for Campbell, as is Port Lorne, Nova Scotia, Lorne, Nova Scotia and the Rural Municipality of Argyle in Manitoba.
Princess Louise is heavily honoured in Canada as well. She would bestow her name on four Canadian regiments, including the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards. The province of Alberta is named for her, as is Lake Louise and Mount Alberta.
Information from Canadian Encyclopedia, Biographi, Windsor Star, Wikipedia, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Daily Citizen, Kentville Advance, Vancouver Daily News Advertiser, Montreal Star,
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