Lord Aberdeen was Governor General during a period of political transition, throughout the terms of four Prime Ministers – Sir John Thompson, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Sir Charles Tupper and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. It was also an era of controversy marred by competing issues, from the abolition of separate French schools in Manitoba – which created a unity crisis (the Manitoba Schools Question) – to the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway to the discovery of gold in the Yukon Territory. Lord Aberdeen was well equipped to take on the challenges of the position, with the experience and knowledge from his previous travels in Canada, and family history of success in this country – his father was instrumental in boundary negotiations between the United States and Canada.
When Laurier had won a clear majority in the 1896 election, Tupper initially refused to cede power, insisting that Laurier would be unable to form a government. However, when Tupper attempted to make appointments as prime minister, Aberdeen intervened, dismissing Tupper and inviting Laurier to form a government. Tupper maintained that Lord Aberdeen's actions were unconstitutional; history has supported Aberdeen's actions.
Above all, Lord Aberdeen believed that, as Governor General, he could improve the well being of Canadians generally, and he and Lady Aberdeen again travelled extensively throughout the country in an attempt to meet and talk with Canadians from all walks of life. This included a journey to the Maritimes where he met, among others, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, as well as many inhabitants of Cape Breton Island who spoke Gaelic and were themselves from the highlands of Scotland. He also travelled west to meet with many people, including many First Nations peoples, and was made an honorary chief of both the Six Nations and Blackfoot people.
Lord and Lady Aberdeen were enthusiastic supporters of outdoor sport in Canada, and personally participated in curling, hockey and sleighing at Rideau Hall. Lord Aberdeen donated the gold Aberdeen Cup for championship golf in the Canadian Amateur Championship, which began in Ottawa in 1895, organized by the Royal Canadian Golf Association, for which he arranged royal designation. They also contributed to the social and cultural life of the capital by hosting a variety of balls and official dinners, and the Aberdeen family often participated in theatrical performances in the ballroom at Rideau Hall. In 1893, Lord and Lady Aberdeen had a chapel built at Rideau Hall, which was removed in 1912. Ottawa's Aberdeen Pavilion, built in 1898, was named in his honour and he presided over its opening.
Lord and Lady Aberdeen participated in the celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and the commemoration of various anniversaries and celebrations throughout Canada. Lord Aberdeen was also involved in the Canadian military. He conducted fleet inspections of the Canadian Navy on three different occasions and became Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Governor General's Foot Guards in 1898.
While her husband was in office, Lady Aberdeen made lasting contributions to Canadian society. She was the first president of the International Council of Women and encouraged the creation of the May Court Club. Her most significant achievement was establishing the Victorian Order of Nurses in 1897. This organization, dedicated to the care of ill people in their own homes, was at first mistrusted by the medical establishment, but Lady Aberdeen won its acceptance. Today, the VON continues to be a vital part of the Canadian health care system.
Lord Aberdeen's legacy was a reformed role in how the office of Governor General dealt with Canadian society. He and his wife had sought to show interest in the welfare of less privileged Canadians. By meeting Canadians in all regions of Canada and discussing their concerns, Lord Aberdeen transformed the role of Governor General from that of the aristocrat representing the King or Queen in Canada to a symbol representing the interests of all citizens. He had also sought to strengthen communication and trade links with the overseas Dominions, seeing the future benefits of openness between countries.
It was widely believed that Lord Loam in JM Barrie's play THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON is a satirical depiction of Lord Aberdeen (the Aberdeens organised social clubs for their servants and were rumoured to dine in the servants' hall from time to time). The Aberdeens' jointly-authored memoir WE TWA reprints a letter from Barrie denying this.
Aberdeen Avenue, a street in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was named after Lord Aberdeen (John Hamilton-Gordon, 1st Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair) and Lady Aberdeen (Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair) who both lived in Hamilton on Bay Street South (1890-1898) with their four children. They also presided over the opening of the Hamilton Public Library on September 16, 1890.
In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Aberdeen Avenue is a historically designated street in Cabbagetown (formerly Carlton Avenue and Lamb Street) named for Lord Aberdeen, Governor General of Canada 1893-1898, and Lady Aberdeen, an aristocrat-democrat with a strong social conscience who made lasting contributions to Canadian society in founding the Victorian Order of Nurses and the National Council of Women.
In her vice-regal duties at Ottawa's Government House, invitations were eagerly sought to state dinners where she became famous for her tableaux, dramatizing incidents in Canadian history, conscripting household staff, guests and family members to play roles. She and Lord Aberdeen, in honour of the Queen's Jubilee in 1897, spent $4,000 of their own money to stage a huge pageant in Toronto celebrating Canada's progress in industry, arts, sciences and sports. (Apparently these expenses consistently exceeded Lord Aberdeen's £10,000 yearly salary, alarming the Edinburgh lawyers who managed their finances.)
In her boundless enthusiasm to improve the lot of working women, Lady Aberdeen created the Onward and Upward Association to help develop, socialize, and educate her staff, as well as encourage prostitutes to relinquish the street.
To honour the outstanding public contributions to the women of her time, an offshoot of women from the Aberdeen Avenue Residents' Group (AARG) has resurrected the Onward and Upward model in creating a modern-day salon as a forum for discussion of issues critical to modern day women.
Lady Aberdeen is also credited with introducing the Golden Retriever to Canada. Her father, Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth is best known as the originator of the breed. By coincidence, the Golden Retriever is the predominant resident breed of Toronto's Aberdeen Avenue.
Christmas Critics.(The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden)(Onward and Upward in the Garden)(Manual of Woody Landscape Plants)(Plant Names in Yiddish)(Brief Article)(Book Review)
Dec 02, 2005; As serious gardens are not gardens but Eden, so are serious gardening books not books about gardening, but about being. Yes, a...