File 61 - King, William Lyon Mackenzie to Kathleen Thomas.

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King, William Lyon Mackenzie to Kathleen Thomas.

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  • May 16, 1943 (Creation)
    King, William Lyon Mackenzie

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"William Lyon Mackenzie King had a long political career. He was leader of the Liberal Party for 29 eventful years through the buoyant expansion of the 1920s, the depression of the 1930s, the shock of World War II, and then the post-war reconstruction, and for 21 of these years he was Canada’s prime minister. His decisions during this time contributed significantly to the shaping of Canada and to its development as an influential middle power in world affairs. During his lifetime his achievements were sometimes obscured by a style notable for its compromises. After his death his political career was sometimes overshadowed by the revelation of his unsuspected personal idiosyncrasies."

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Handwritten letter from William Lyon Mackenzie King to Miss Kathleen Thomas on May 16, 1943.
Transcription: “My dear Kathleen: This is the week on which you and Arthur are to be married. I have waited until this Sunday morning to write to you, not being too sure during the past few days just what my movements might be in the course of the present week. You no doubt will have seen from the papers that the President and Mr. Churchill have invited me to come to Washington for talks together, for meetings, conference, and the like, in the course of Mr Churchill's stay. It is now clear that I shall be obliged to leave tomorrow afternoon at the latest, and that I shall be obliged to be there in Washington on the day of your wedding, Thursday May 20th.
I need not tell you how sorry I am to have to disappoint Arthur and yourself; and, myself, to miss the pleasure of being with you both at the marriage ceremony, and to sign the register as a witness, as I did in the case of Margery and Lyon's wedding. However, there is no alternative, as Mr. Churchill is expecting me to be with him on Tuesday, and the President has invited me to be his guest, at the White House, on Wednesday spending the night there, and attending a meeting of the Pacific Council on Thursday morning, and a meeting of delegates from different parts of the British Empire, on Monday afternoon. I mention these engagements because of their importance and historic significance, and that you may know just why it will not be possible for me to be with you all on the day of, and at the time of your wedding. Perhaps, in the long run, a message from the White House, on the day of the wedding, may come to be an even more significant and welcome souvenir of the occasion than the witnessing of the marriage ceremony, and being a witness to its having taken place. Still I should have liked to have been with you and Arthur as I was with Margery and Lyon.
You know, I am sure, all the good wishes that I send to you for the day and for the Nova vita [underlined] on which you enter at that time. I wish you and Arthur the greatest possible happiness. As you both have a high purpose in life, and a love of service, and with the [will be?] sharing kindred ideals, I am certain that the way will open out before you in [to?] new widening vistas of opportunities, and of realization of your highest hopes. It will, I imagine, not be without its difficulties and privations at the start, and until this time of war becomes something of the past. You will have in that the consolation of knowing that you are sharing with others the sacrifices by which in the end, all that is highest in attainment is accomplished. There will be, too, [illegible] much sunshine and gladness along the way.
I should like to make you a little gift which would be something you would like to have from me, as a remembrance of your wedding day. In order that I may be sure the choice would be something you yourself would approve, I am going to ask you to help me in the selection of it, after you come to Ottawa, where we can confer together about it. Meanwhile, please accept 'my promise to pay' with my love and best of wishes for May the 20th, 1943, and for the days, and months and years to come. I pray through this all, you may be greatly blessed.”
Salutation: “My dear Kathleen,” [handwritten; Signature: “Yours affectionately, W.L. Mackenzie King.”

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Donated by John English in 2019.


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  • English

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Letter: 4 p. (of 4, folded leaf) ; 20 x 15 cm.
Printed Letterhead: Laurier House, Ottawa.
The front of the envelope is marked “Personal,” “Special Delivery” and “W.L.M.K. P.M.” all handwritten by Mackenzie King.
The stamp is Canadian war issue: 10-cent Parliament Buildings with Union Jack, postmarked Toronto, May 16, 1943. [1] Need Source
The envelope has been sealed on the flap with a black wax seal as yet unidentified: a raised hand, palm facing, thumb and forefingers raised, the other two fingers closed.

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Described May 2019 by JSB.

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  • English

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