The Right Coast

January 14, 2004
More On Buchan
By Maimon Schwarzschild

John Buchan was not only a writer who gave us (and Alfred Hitchcock) The 39 Steps; Buchan also had something of a political career in Scotland, England, and Canada. As Lord Tweedsmuir of Elsfield, he was Governor-General of Canada from 1935 until his death in 1940. (The Governor General, for you non-colonials, is the surrogate for the monarch, and hence the ceremonial head of state in Canada, Australia, or any of the Crown's "dominions beyond the seas".)

Buchan has frequently been accused of anti-semitism, although Mark Steyn defends him stoutly against the charge, and Buchan was notably not pro-appeasement of Hitler during the 1930s.

Buchan was surely the most talented Canadian Governor General ever. (Please hold your cat-calls about this being truly faint praise...) Canada's first Canadian (rather than British) Governor General, on the other hand, was Vincent Massey, whose brother was the actor Raymond Massey. Raymond Massey, as you will recall, did a first rate Abraham Lincoln, but was probably best known as Doctor Gillespie in the "Dr Kildare" television series in the 1960s.