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John G. Diefenbaker fonds
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John G. Diefenbaker fonds

  • JGD/MG01
  • Fonds
  • 1815-1979, predominant 1925-1979

Fonds includes personal correspondence and papers, as well as background and reference material assembled by John Diefenbaker
and his staff. There is also large collection of press clippings, supplemented by press clippings gathered by the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Diefenbaker, John George, 1895-1979

XVII. Photographs and Slides Series

This series contains photographs and slides belonging to John Diefenbaker and his family. It includes many professional portraits of Diefenbaker and his second wife Olive. There are some historic photographs collected as a result of Diefenbaker’s interest in Canadian history and Sir John A. Macdonald.

V. Family Series

John Diefenbaker (1895-1979) and his brother, Elmer (1897-1971), were born in Ontario. Their parents, William T. Diefenbaker (1868-1945) and Mary Florence nee Bannerman (1872-1961), brought them to Saskatchewan in 1903 to homestead in the Prince Albert region. They were followed by William’s brother, Edward (1875-1960), who took up the neighbouring homestead. John married Edna Brower (1899-1951) in 1929; following her death, he married Olive Freeman Palmer (1902-1975) in 1953. John had no children, but his step-daughter, Carolyn Weir (1934- ), has several children. As the last survivor of his immediate family, John Diefenbaker inherited their papers, providing researchers with an opportunity to study both sides of the family correspondence. Olive Diefenbaker’s correspondence exceeds 13,000 pages, making it one of the largest collections of any Canadian political wife.

III. 1940-1956 Series

This series includes the papers generated and accumulated by Diefenbaker from March 1940 to December 1956, excluding his legal papers (MG 01/I Legal Series) and his family correspondence (MG 01/V Family Series). In addition to the four subseries there are files on political and other topics.

II. Pre 1940 Series

This series contains the records of John Diefenbaker’s personal and political activities before his election to Parliament in May 1940, excluding his legal papers (MG 01/I Legal Series) and his family correspondence (MG 01/V Legal Series). There is material about his education at the University of Saskatchewan and his military career during the First World War. There is a large section on the Saskatchewan provincial Conservative Party which he led from 1936 to 1939. This series also contains transcripts of the Bryant Commission Inquiry into jails and provincial police for which Diefenbaker served as legal counsel. Diefenbaker received many requests for assistance from members of the general public which provide information about the wide range of political, social and financial problems Saskatchewan experienced in the 1920s and 1930s.

I. Legal Series

John Diefenbaker entered the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 1916, and was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in June, 1919. Upon graduating he opened a private practice in Wakaw, Saskatchewan and carried on a busy practice until 1924 when he moved to Prince Albert. The Wakaw office was managed by a succession of partners until its closure in 1929. Diefenbaker worked privately and in partnership until the early 1940s when he established a partnership with John Cuelenaere. They were joined by Roy Hall in 1947 and by Clyne Harradence in 1955. After his election to the House of Commons in 1940, legal material was forwarded to Ottawa. This arrangement continued until 1956 when he was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, and he thus gave up his legal practice. Diefenbaker became a King’s Counsel in 1929, and was also a member of the Bars of Alberta, British Columbia and Upper Canada.

This series contains those papers accumulated by John Diefenbaker in the course of his legal practice, although records are incomplete.

I/D. Law Office Administration Subseries

This subseries contains records of the routine administration of Diefenbaker’s legal practice. There are financial records, legal diaries, and administrative correspondence. There is also correspondence with Diefenbaker’s partners and other lawyers and judges.

I/C. Requests for Assistance Subseries

This subseries contains correspondence between Diefenbaker and clients, or prospective clients, seeking legal advice on a wide range of topics. Many files are incomplete and it is impossible to determine the outcome of the case. There are also files of miscellaneous documents relating not only to the Requests for Assistance Subseries, but to the Case Files Subseries and the Collections Subseries.

I/B. Collections Subseries

This series contains documents relating to Diefenbaker’s actions for the collection of rents, unpaid loans and other debts. Those cases involving extensive litigation to collect the debts are to be found in the case files.

XXI. Speech Series

This series contains the manuscripts of John Diefenbaker’s speeches as well as background material, drafts, suggestions from staff, and annotated delivery copies.

XVIII. Audio-Visual Series

This series contains motion picture film, video tape, phonograph records, and audio tape, and constitutes the sound and moving image records kept by Diefenbaker.

XVI. Press Clippings Series

This series contains press clippings on a wide variety of Canadian and international social and political topics which John Diefenbaker collected.

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