A selection of published work by Ged Martin.
W.L. Mackenzie King: Canada's Spiritualist Prime Minister
In 1989, I published an article discussing two séances attended by Canada's long-serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, in London in 1947 and 1948. The article, which appeared in the British Journal of Canadian Studies, iv (1989), 109-35, is republished here, with some minor updating and corrections. No attempt has been made to cite work published on Mackenzie King since 1989, but it should be noted that his diaries may now be consulted on line via the Library and Archives Canada website.
Favourite Son?: John A. Macdonald and the Voters of Kingston, 1841-1891
Political biographies generally focus on public careers and often take for granted their subjects' constituency background. Favourite Son? is a book about the political relations between Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John Macdonald, and the Ontario city of Kingston which he represented in parliament for over thirty-eight years (with one interval) between 1844 and his death in 1891. Favourite Son? was published, in a handsome volume, by the Kingston Historical Society in 2010. (In 2016, copies were still available for purchase.) I am grateful to the Kingston Historical Society for permission to re-publish this version of the text on my website. Brian Osborne suggested the title, and supported the project in many other ways. Without his help, the book would not have happened.
Alexander Campbell (1822-1892): The Travails of a Father of Confederation
Alexander Campbell (1822-1892): The Travails of a Father of Confederation**
Although he was a Father of Confederation and a cabinet minister in the early years of the Dominion of Canada, Alexander Campbell is a shadowy figure, almost a caricature, perennially overshadowed by his fellow Kingstonian and one-time law partner, John A. Macdonald.
The Idea of British North American Union 1854-1864
Formally, the movement for Canadian Confederation began at the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences in September and October 1864. It sometimes seems that the idea of uniting the provinces arose almost spontaneously out of the interlocking circumstances, needs and challenges of 1864. In fact, British North American union had been discussed for some years. The project lacked mass support, but some form of Confederation was coming to be seen by the elite as an eventual outcome. It is difficult to be sure whether these explorations can called a 'debate', since that term implies a continuous interaction of viewpoints, but some interchange of ideas seems to have taken place. Perhaps two basic points can be made about this immediate prehistory of the Confederation movement of 1864-67. First, some of the inherent problems of an intercolonial union were largely resolved in the preceding discussions, notably the need to blur the difference between a centralised legislative union and a loose and potentially weak federation. Second, widespread previous awareness of the issue underlines the point that controversy over Confederation in 1864-66 was less a battle between those who favoured union and those who opposed it, but rather more a disagreement between those who believed that it was immediately necessary and feasible and those who regarded it as a long-term but currently impracticable scheme. "The Idea of British North American Union 1854-1864" was first published in Journal of Scottish and Irish Studies, i (2008), pp. 309-333.
Charles Stewart Parnell at Cambridge: New Evidence (1992)
In 1974, I published 'Parnell at Cambridge: The Education of an Irish Nationalist' (Irish Historical Studies, xix, 72-82). This discussion was based on the assumption (itself derived from information supplied by Magdalene College Cambridge to R. Barry O'Brien) that Parnell had spent four fruitless years at the University, between 1865 and 1869. By 1991, reorganisation of the College Archives made it possible to quarry new material from account books and other official records. These threw fresh, and startling, light upon the subject. The new findings were summarised in an article in Magdalene College Magazine and Record, xxxvi (1992), 37-41, which is reprinted below, with some small editorial changes.
William Wellington Willock and the founding of Canterbury, New Zealand
William Wellington Willock was a Fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge who emigrated to New Zealand in 1850, becoming one of the founders of the province of Canterbury.
'The Workings of My Own Mind': Private Correspondence of the Governor-General of Canada, 1839-1867
Historians of 19th-century British-Canadian relations use the rich archive of Colonial Office despatches, supplemented by the private correspondence of governors-general and colonial secretaries where such collections survive. This article contends that, from 1839 to 1866, the period of the Canadian Union, the private correspondence constituted a parallel channel of communication, operating on a quasi-official and semi-continuous basis. Private correspondence was used to discuss issues too sensitive for the official record, material that was deliberately omitted from despatches. The correspondence was controlled by the secretary of state, who shared it as his discretion with political colleagues and bureaucrats. Its major shortcoming lay in the difficulty in securing continuity of information between successive ministers, as was shown in the British response to the Canadian federation initiative of 1858. Private correspondence gradually became less important after Confederation as Canada ceased to be a problem to British policy-makers. The correspondence between governors-general and colonial secretaries should be considered apart from current historical debate on imperial networks. The article appeared in British Journal of Canadian Studies, xxxi (2009), 63-86.