"The Gift of One Generation to Another": The Real Thing for the Pepsi Generation
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Several months ago and before I was appointed the national archivist of Canada, I was invited to speak at a symposium to honor Terry Cook and to rebect on his career as an archivist at the National Archives. I used the occasion to place before members of our profession the key dividing point that has distinguished my approach to the archival endeavor over the past twenty-ave years from that of Terry; it is a fundamental distinction, and its inbuence can be discerned in our various articles. Analysis of the full intellectual impact of our two perspectives should be left, I think, to a future graduate student; however , let it be known that while Terry is passionate about Coca Cola, I far and away prefer Pepsi, and these are the battle lines for my discussion of our respective positions. While I was preparing my comments for the Cook symposium, the Canadian federal government announced that it was embarking on a study of the future of the National Archives and the National Library.1 I was tempted to change the focus of this essay into a study of the appointment of dominion, or national, archivists since 1872, when the National Archives was established .2 While I decided not to change my approach, I felt that the historical theme would be a useful point of departure. From 1872 until 1999, only six men had served as Canada’s national archivist, and the appointment of each provides useful insight into the conditions of the time. Douglas Brymner, dominion archivist from 1872 to 1902, was a Presbyterian journalist and certainly had aptitude for this new position, but I suspect, more importantly , that he had solid Conservative ties. He received the appointment, but after an initial burst of activity the bedgling archives went into obscurity during the Liberal years of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie and had to be reactivated when Sir John A. Macdonald was again in power in 1878—a cautionary tale, reenacted over the years in other governmental archives when an archive, which must serve as the neutral repository for all political perspectives, becomes too closely identiaed with partisan leanings. On Brymner’s death in 1902, interest in the federal appointment was lively. One enterprising journalist, H. F. Gardiner, Liberal editor of the Hamilton Times, published a pamphlet supporting his own candidacy, quoting one endorsement: “He already carries in his cranium a tremendous store of knowledge of the beginnings of Canadian history” such that he would be an excellent archivist.3 The successful candidate, Arthur Doughty, had the good fortune to be in Quebec assigned to investigate the location of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This brought him to the attention of the governor-general , Lord Minto. Doughty’s enthusiasm and evident ability commended him to His Excellency and through him to the government of the day. For those who are interested in the educational requirements for the job and who have labored long and hard for a graduate degree, Doughty’s career path is instructive. Every biographical dictionary published in his lifetime carried the same phrasing: he was “educated at Oxford University; MA, Dickinson College, Carlisle.” On investigation I found that the only record available at Oxford suggests that Doughty spent two months there in 1884. He did not graduate. As for his MA, in 1889 he wrote to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and asked for an honorary degree. He was refused. The following year he wrote again, claiming to be acquainted with President 333 ⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮ “The Gift of One Generation to Another” The Real Thing for the Pepsi Generation Ian E. Wilson ⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯ Grover Cleveland; this time he met with success and received his degree in the mail. Despite his lack of formal credentials he was among the most active and successful of our national archivists. From the time Doughty turned seventy in 1930, there was intense speculation regarding his successor. He retired to become dominion archivist emeritus in March 1935 and died in December 1936. The prime minister, R. B. Bennett, had an extensive ale regarding the succession. The two internal candidates were Gustave Lanctot and James F. Kenney, with Professor A. L. Burt, a noted Canadian historian teaching at the University of Alberta and subsequently at the University of Minnesota, as the most likely external candidate. The bulk of the correspondence on the issue had little to do with the needs or future of the institution but largely concerned a debate on whether the next deputy minister in...