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On this day in 1952 Vincent Massey became the first born Canadian to be named Governor General of Canada, a function which had always been held in the past by a member of the Royal Family or British Aristocracy.

His predecessor had been Viscount Alexander of Tunis, the Government of Canada had since 1919 pursue a policy of independence and wanted to put an end to the tradition of British governors since Canada was no longer a colony since 1867. The Prime Minister informed London that the next Governor General would be a distinguished Canadian.

Vincent Massey was chosen, he came from a wealthy family whose business in the Farm Equipment Massey Harris and then Massey Ferguson was well known. He had been the first Canadian High Commissioner (Ambassador) to London, we did not have a High Commission in London prior to 1931 we had an agent who represented the interest of Canada. Massey was a published author, an Art Collector, he bequeathed his collection to the National Gallery of Canada. During the Second World War in London he would entertain Canadian troops on weekend at his country estate outside London and one rule was that you could drink in the salon and dining room but never in your room, gentlemen don’t drink in bedrooms and a soldier could not do it either. He was a stickler for details and protocol. The troops love him for it.

Massey was what was then called an Imperial Canadian, he had a vision of the Dominion of Canada within the Empire and he promoted all things Canadian. His brother was Raymond Massey the actor.

After the end of his five year term as Governor General he was succeeded by General George Vanier, a first World War hero. Shortly the Prime Minister should be announcing who will succeed the current Governor General David Johnston whose extended term is now expiring.

vincent.jpg Vincent Massey, wearing his uniform of Governor General of Canada