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Right Honourable Vincent Massey

Appointed: February 1, 1952
Sworn In: February 28, 1952, Ottawa
Born: February 20, 1887, Toronto, Ontario
Died: December 30, 1967


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When Prime Minister St-Laurent needed a successor to Lord Alexander as Governor General, he decided on the choice of a Canadian for the post.

He selected a brilliant son of a rich Canadian manufacturing family, The right Honourable Vincent Massey, who was born in Toronto on February 20, 1887, His nomination received swift Royal Assent and soon gained general approval from the Canadian public.

Vincent Massey was no stranger to public service. He was educated at the University of Toronto, and at Oxford, and lectured for a time at the University of Toronto. His brother, Raymond Massey, was a leading actor on the screen and stage.

He was Canadian Minister to Washington for four years and was High Commissioner in London from 1935 to 1946. Throughout the war years, he and his wife played host to thousands of Canadian Service personnel. He was appointed to the U.K. Privy Council in 1941 and was made Companion of Honour in 1946.

In 1949-51 he headed the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences and produced a monumental and authoritative report which was a guidebook for Canadian cultural development. He was an optimistic and dedicated worker in the cause of national unity.

Conscious of his role as Canada's first Canadian Governor General, Mr. Massey travelled widely to meet Canadians from all walks of life and even flew over  the North Pole on a special flight. He was the author of many works, including a collection of his speeches. On one occasion, as guest of honour at the annual dinner of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, his address was in the form of a witty narrative poem which has since become a collector's item. Mrs. Massey died in 1950 and the chatelaine at Rideau Hall during Mr. Massey's tenure was his daughter in law, Mrs. Lionel Massey. There were many formal functions and each winter a program of informal dances for young people.

His term of office exceeded seven years and in 1959 he retired to his home, 'Batterwood House ' near Port Hope Ontario.

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