Sir Arthur George Doughty
Sir Arthur George Doughty, archivist (b at Maidenhead, Eng 22 March 1860, d at Ottawa 1 Dec 1936). After considering a career in the church, he immigrated to Canada in 1886.
Sir Arthur George Doughty, archivist (b at Maidenhead, Eng 22 March 1860, d at Ottawa 1 Dec 1936). After considering a career in the church, he immigrated to Canada in 1886. Beginning in business, he quickly became an active figure in Montréal literary circles, publishing several works on Tennyson together with handsome volumes of his own poetry and establishing himself as a drama critic. He joined the Québec public service in 1897, becoming joint legislative librarian in 1901.
The controversy over the precise location of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham first drew Doughty's attention to the neglected state of Canada's documentary heritage. A review of the differing interpretations of Canada's past presented in French and English history texts reinforced his determination to establish a comprehensive documentary foundation for a less biased, scientific historiography. His efforts made him the obvious choice for the newly combined federal position of Dominion Archivist and Keeper of the Records in 1904.
Over the ensuing 31 years, Doughty established the Public Archives of Canada (now National Archives of Canada) as a dynamic cultural institution. He had a genius for searching out significant historical materials. Official government records, the private manuscripts of colonial administrators, the Northcliffe Collection, the Durham Papers, transcripts of key documents in British, French and Canadian archives, historical artifacts, works of art and even WWI trophies and posters formed part of the collection he amassed, outgrowing both the archives building (1907) and an addition (1926).
Exhibits, a circulating library of lantern slides, authoritative publications of selected documents, and an enthusiasm in assisting researchers encouraged a broad public to learn from the documentary record. The volumes he edited with Adam Shortt of constitutional documents and the monumental history Canada and its Provinces (23 vols, 1913-17) have retained their influence for decades. Following his retirement (1935), he was named Dominion Archivist Emeritus and created KBE. The official statue erected in his honour remains a singular distinction among federal deputy ministers.