Wilfrid Eggleston

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Not to be confused with William Eggleston.

Wilfrid Eggleston OBE (25 March 1901 – 13 June 1986) was an Anglo-Canadian journalist, author and censor. Born in Lincoln to English parents, and later moving to a ranch in Alberta aged eight, Eggleston was one of Canada's most prolific political commentators of the mid-20th century. In a career spanning roughly 50 years, he wrote for several publications, including the Toronto Star, Time Magazine, and several other newspapers through his affiliation with the Reuters media agency. He acted as both a member of the secretariat in the Rowell–Sirois Commission as well as Chief Censor for war-time Canada between 1942 until 1944, and would later found the Carleton School of Journalism in 1947. He authored 17 works, mainly concerning Canadian history and politics, before his death in 1986 at the age of 85.

Early life

Wilfrid Eggleston was born on 25 March 1901 in Lincoln to English parents. His father was a former tax collector, his mother, a shop assistant and dressmaking apprentice; they had married in Grantham come 1897.[1] Eggleston's father had purchased a grocer's shop in Netherfield, Nottinghamshire, briefly resettling the family there until 1909.[1] During this short period, he was educated at the newly established Chandos Street Secondary School (a precursor institute to Carlton le Willows School).[2][3] Following this, Wilfrid moved to a ranch in Orion, Alberta with his family, with the farming of wheat a predominant activity.[4][5] However, following a major crop failure in 1917, he became the town's bank clerk after employment in a convenience store, but later left for Kronau, Saskatchewan due to a combination of poor business and boredom; the family ranch was later abandoned in 1923.[6][7] After skipping several years of high school education through a fast-track course at Regina College, Eggleston enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts program at Queen's University in 1926.[8]


The Rowell–Sirois Commission of 1937, Eggleston is pictured second from the left on the back row[9]

After graduating from Queen's in 1928, Wilfrid Eggleston began writing for the locally printed Lethbridge Herald. He wrote under Canadian Senator William Ashbury Buchanan, whom had acquired ownership of the newspaper in 1905.[10] Eggleston held Buchanan and his politics in high regard during his short stay at the publication.[11] After just one year writing in Lethbridge, he became Ottawa correspondent for the Toronto Star in 1929,[12] and witnessed significant political events in this position, including the passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 and the British Empire Economic Conference of 1932.[13][14] He also began writing through the media agency Reuters in the late 1920s by means of a syndicated weekly newspaper column, with a selection of his political pieces featuring in Time Magazine and a plethora of other noted publications.[15] By the time Eggleston had resigned from the Toronto Star in 1936, he had risen to become the newspaper's parliamentary correspondent; he'd finished reporting through Reuters within the same year.[15][16]

Whilst maintaining his journalistic status as a freelance reporter, he began governmental service in 1937.[16] He was a member of the secretariat in the Rowell–Sirois Commission, which sought to ease the encumbrance of the Great Depression by analyzing perceived flaws in the Canadian constitution.[15] The outcome of the commission, supported by Eggleston, allowed for greater involvement in regard to unemployment insurance and pensions from the federal government.[11][17] During this time he liaised with notable figures including Newton Rowell, James McGregor Stewart and Henry Angus (all of whom were also members of the venture).[9] After gaining the trust of the Canadian government, he became Chief Censor for war-time Canada from 1942 until 1944;[15] Eggleston's predecessor, Major James Haig-Smith, was ordered to ban some 600 published works due to leftist sympathies.[18][19] Among the high-profile censorship requests that Eggleston didn't oblige to include the Battle of the St. Lawrence, after he discovered that it was merely an attempt to, as he put it, "give the Minister of Naval Affairs a scoop when he announced it to the House", and the Conscription Crisis of 1944, to which he was personally objected, despite pressure from then Prime Minister, Mackenzie King.[20] Upon being discharged from the post, General Léo Richer Laflèche commented in the Ottawa Citizen that he was "largely responsible for the efficient functioning of censorship in Canada".[16] He was succeeded in the role by fellow journalist Fulgence Charpentier.[20]

Later in life, Wilfrid was involved in more academic pursuits. He had received a basic teacher-training education from the Calgary Normal School (latterly a part of the University of Alberta), and began lecturing at Carleton University in 1947.[21] In the same year, he became founder and director of the Carleton School of Journalism, a post he held until 1966.[15] The Canadian Encyclopedia claims that Eggleston "was considered the father of journalism education in Canada, emphasizing its roots in the liberal arts and social sciences".[15]

Honours, recognition and death

He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1943.[15] The Writers' Guild of Alberta also established the "Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction" in 1982.[22] His extensive book collection of some 3,000 works was donated to the University of Lethbridge in 2006, despite interest from Carleton and Queen's universities, Eggleston's academic institution and alma mater respectively.[23] Wilfrid Eggleston died in Ottawa on 13 June 1986, he was 85 years of age.[15]

Published works

A ramshackle store in Orion, Alberta; Eggleston wrote at length about the hardships of ranching in the hamlet in two of his memoirs

Eggleston published a total of 17 books throughout his life; these included seven on Canadian history, five on its politics and three personal memoirs. He further published poetry anthologies in 1927, and again in 1968 with his wife Magdalena to commemorate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.[24]

  • The High Plains (1938)[25]
  • Why & How Canada Federated (1947)[26]
  • The Green Gables Letters: From L. M. Montgomery to Ephraim Weber, 1905–1909 (1960)[27]
  • Newfoundland: the Road to Confederation (1974)[28]
  • The Frontier and Canadian Letters (1977)[29]
  • Prairie Symphony (1978)[30]
  • National Research in Canada: The NRC 1916–1966 (1978)[31]
  • The Road to Nationhood: a Chronicle of Dominion-Provincial Relations (1946)[32]
  • Scientists at War (1950)[33]
  • Canada at Work (1953)[34]
  • The Queen's Choice: a Story of Canada's Capital (1961)[35]
  • Canada's Nuclear Story (1966)[36]
  • While I Still Remember: a Personal Record (1968)[37]
  • Literary Friends (1980)[37]
  • Homestead on the Range (1982)[37]
  • Prairie Moonlight and other Lyrics (1927)[38]
  • Lyrics by Magdalena and Wilfrid Eggleston (1968)[24]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Eggleston 1968, p. 2
  2. Eggleston 1968, p. 67
  3. "DServe Archive Catalog Show". Nottinghamshire County Council. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  4. Eggleston 1968, p. 12
  5. Eggleston 1968, p. 21
  6. Jones 2002, p. 92
  7. Wood 2006, p. 15
  8. Eggleston 1968, p. 63
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Archives Search - Library and Archives of Canada". Library and Archives of Canada. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  10. Mardon & Mardon 2012, p. 29
  11. 11.0 11.1 Eggleston 1968, p. 75
  12. Eggleston 1968, p. 154
  13. Mackinlay, Andrew (10 March 2005). "Early day motion 895: Morganatic Marriage and the Statute of Westminster 1931". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  14. "Imperial Economic Conference". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 "Wilfrid Eggleston - The Canadian Encylopedia". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Wilfrid Eggleston To Leave Govt. Service". Ottawa Citizen. 8 December 1944. p. 35. 
  17. "The Rowell-Sirois Report and Canadian Federalism during the Great Depression (1929–1939)". Marianopolis College. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  18. Neary 1996, p. 192
  19. "Censorship of Canada | Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing". McMaster University. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Hayes 2013, p. 102
  21. Eggleston 1968, p. 50
  22. "Awards | Writers' Guild of Alberta". Writers Guild of Alberta. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  23. "University of Lethbridge Library Donation: Wilfrid and Magdelana Eggleston Donation". University of Lethbridge. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Lyrics by Magdalena and Wilfrid Eggleston". AbeBooks.com. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  25. "The High Plains - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  26. "Why & How Canada Federated - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  27. "The Green Gables Letters: From L. M. Montgomery to Ephraim Weber, 1905-1909 - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  28. "Newfoundland: the Road to Confederation". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  29. "The Frontier and Canadian Letters - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  30. "Prairie Symphony - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  31. "National Research in Canada: The NRC 1916-1966 - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  32. "The Road to Nationhood: a Chronicle of Dominion-Provincial Relations - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  33. "Scientists at War - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  34. "Canada at Work - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  35. "The Queen's Choice: a Story of Canada's Capital - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  36. "Canada's Nuclear Story - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 Sutherland, Barman & Hale 1992, p. 178
  38. "Prairie Moonlight and other Lyrics - Wilfrid Eggleston". Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 


  • Eggleston, Wilfrid (1968). While I Still Remember: a Personal Record. Toronto: Ryerson Press. OCLC 38321. 
  • Hayes, Geoffrey (2013). Canada and the Second World War: Essays in Honour of Terry Copp. Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 978-1-55458-645-5. 
  • Jones, David C. (2002). Empire of Dust: Settling and Abandoning the Prairie Dry Belt. University of Calgary Press. ISBN 978-1-55238-085-7. 
  • Mardon, Ernest George; Mardon, Austin Albert (2012). Who's Who in Federal Politics in Alberta. Edmonton: Lulu. ISBN 978-1-897472-19-4. 
  • Neary, Peter (1996). Newfoundland in the North Atlantic World, 1929–1949. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-1518-5. 
  • Sutherland, Neil; Barman, Jean; Hale, Linda Louise (1992). History of Canadian Childhood and Youth: A Bibliography. California: Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 978-0-313-28585-1. 
  • Wood, J. David (2006). Places of Last Resort: The Expansion of the Farm Frontier Into the Boreal Forest in Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-6010-9. 

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Major James Haig-Smith
Chief Censor for Canada
1942 –1944
Succeeded by
Fulgence Charpentier