Pickersgill, John Whitney

John Whitney Pickersgill, public servant, politician, historian (b at Wyecombe, Ont 23 June 1905; d at Ottawa 14 Nov 1997). "Clear it with Jack" was the Ottawa watchword through the KING and ST. LAURENT eras, a testimony to Pickersgill's extraordinary influence. He was raised on a poor Manitoba farm and secured a good education at the University of Manitoba and Oxford thanks to his great abilities - and an extraordinary mother. He taught history at Wesley College, Winnipeg, 1929-37, and then joined the Department of External Affairs.

Quickly shifted to the PMO, Pickersgill assisted King and St. Laurent on virtually all aspects of policy and politics. In 1952 he became clerk of the Privy Council and the next year secretary of state. He held 2 portfolios in the PEARSON government and was appointed president of the Canadian Transport Commission when he left politics in 1967. Pickersgill's historical studies of the King-St. Laurent years are of importance. In 1990 he came out of retirement as a member of the Friends of Meech Lake, a group that supported the failed constitutional accord. Pickersgill received the singular honour of having the title Right Honourable bestowed on him.