There was always a tension in Buchan between his desire to live quietly and his ambition to be a part of bigger things. Despite serious illness, he went to France in WWI as an intelligence officer. He was a popular MP 1927-35 but was too lacking in partisan fervour for a Cabinet post. In Canada Buchan had time to indulge his contemplative side. He loved the variety, beauty and adventure of a big land, and tried to convey a sense of community and unlimited potential on his frequent tours, which included the first by a governor general to the Arctic.
Horrified by WWI, he worked with US President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie KING in their peace initiatives of the late 1930s. Although admiring King more politically than personally, Buchan forged strong links with the PM. King noted the governor general's weaknesses - his self-importance and love of titles - but he deeply appreciated Buchan's "real support ... sterling rectitude and disinterested purpose." Buchan's autobiography, Memory Hold-the-Door (1940), was completed shortly before his death. He instituted the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARDS in 1937.
Author NORMAN HILLMER
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