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Sir John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield

Appointed: August 10, 1935
Sworn In: November 2, 1935, Quebec City, Quebec.
Born: August 26, 1875, Perth, Scotland
Died: February 11, 1940


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A highly successful novelist and historian, John Buchan was the first of his profession to become Governor General of Canada. A man of many talents, he was also a lawyer, a diplomat, a war correspondent, a publisher and a member of the House of Commons for the Scottish Universities seat.

Born in Perth, Scotland, August 26th, 1975, the son of a clergyman, Buchan enjoyed a distinguished academic career. But he was first and foremost a writer and prior to coming to Canada, he had earned an enviable reputation as an author. He is known for such mystery novels as "The Dancing Floor", and "The Thirty-nine Steps" which was made into a highly successful motion picture.

On his appointment as Governor General in 1935, he became Baron Tweedsmuir, taking his name for the ancestral home in Scotland, the scene of many happy boyhood memories.

While in office, he travelled widely and frequently across Canada and undertook the longest single trip of any Governor General to date, travelling 12,000 miles across Canada, down the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Circle and deep into isolated communities along the North Pacific coast of B.C..

In 1936 he was made Honorary President of the Canadian Authors' Association and he instituted the annual Governor General's awards for Canadian literature. Though many of his predecessors had visited American Presidents informally, in 1937 Lord Tweedsmuir paid the first state visit to the White House. He was the guest of the Roosevelts and addressed the U.S. Senate. Poor health forced him to undergo medical treatment in England from August to October 1938, following which he resumed his vice-regal duties. In 1939 he entertained King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their historic tour of Canada and he United States.

His term of office was to expire in November 1940, but he died on February 11th in a Montreal hospital while undergoing surgery for a head injury sustained in a fall. He was accorded a state funeral in Ottawa and his ashes were returned to his homeland.

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