Vincent Massey bigraphy, stories - Governor General of Canada

Vincent Massey : biography

February 20, 1887 - December 30, 1967

Charles Vincent Massey (February 20, 1887December 30, 1967) was a Canadian lawyer and diplomat who served as Governor General of Canada, the 18th since Canadian Confederation.

Massey was born into an influential Toronto family and was educated in Ontario and England, obtaining a degree in law and befriending future prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King while studying at the University of Oxford. He was commissioned into the military in 1917 for the remainder of the First World War and, after a brief stint in the Canadian Cabinet, began his diplomatic career, serving in envoys to the United States and United Kingdom. Upon his return to Canada in 1946, Massey headed a royal commission on the arts between 1949 and 1951, which resulted in the Massey Report and subsequently the establishment of the National Library of Canada and the Canada Council of the Arts, amongst other grant-giving agencies. He was in 1952 appointed as governor general by George VI, monarch of Canada, on the recommendation of Canadian Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, to replace the Viscount Alexander of Tunis as viceroy, and he occupied the post until succeeded by Georges Vanier in 1959. Massey was the first Canadian-born individual to serve as Canada's governor general and he proved to be a successful transition for the office away from occupants who had consistently been both members of the peerage and born overseas.

On September 16, 1925, Massey was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, giving him the accordant style of The Honourable. However, Massey was later, as a former Governor General of Canada, entitled to be styled for life with the superior form of The Right Honourable. He subsequently continued his philanthropic work and founded Massey College at the University of Toronto and the Massey Lectures before he died on December 30, 1967.

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List of works

Post-viceregal life

Upon his final departure from Rideau Hall as governor general, Massey retired to Batterwood. For his service to the Crown, he was awarded from the Queen the Royal Victorian Chain, making him the first Canadian recipient of that honour and today only one of two to ever receive it. Massey continued his philanthropic work, dedicating his time to the stewardship of the Massey Foundation, and its endowment to the University of Toronto, in particular. While Hart House continued as one of the recipients of Massey's attention and funds, Massey also expanded the scope of his donations to U of T with the establishment in 1963 of Massey College, to which Massey's protégé, Robertson Davies, was appointed as the college's first master. In 1961, the Massey Lectures were also initiated, conceived as a focus on important contemporary issues by leading thinkers, and they remain considered as the most important public lecture series in Canada.

At the end of 1967, on December 30, Massey died while on holiday in the United Kingdom. His remains were returned to Canada and he was, as is customary for former governors general, given a state funeral, in early January 1968. He was buried alongside his wife at St. Mark's Anglican church in Port Hope; his was the last burial to take place there.

Diplomatic career

Later in 1926, on November 25, Governor General the Marquess of Willingdon acted on Mackenzie King's advice to appoint Massey as the first Canadian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States for His Majesty's Government in Canada, making Massey Canada's first ever envoy with full diplomatic credentials to a foreign capital. Despite this first in international relations, Massey's time in Washington, D.C., was free of notable events and he returned to Canada in mid-1930, as Mackenzie King had put his name forward for appointment as high commissioner to the United Kingdom. But, merely five days after Massey relinquished his posting to Washington, Mackenzie King's Liberal Party was defeated in the federal election, seeing Richard Bennett appointed as prime minister. The new premier objected to Massey as the government's representative to the UK, on the grounds that, as a former Liberal Cabinet member, Massey did not enjoy the political confidence of the new Conservative government that was needed by the individual occupying the position.

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