THE JOHN BUCHAN STORY Peebles, Scottish Borders



John and Anna’s Nanny

This lovely photograph was sent to us by Carole Adam, a great niece of Ellen Robertson, the children’s nanny in Perth. Interestingly, in Anna’s book “Unforgettable, Unforgotten” Ellen is referred to as Ellen Robinson - or Elle Robbie as the children called her! An extract is below.
This extract about nanny is from O Douglas’s (Anna) “Unforgettable, Unforgotten” "and then—Ellie Robbie, moving quietly about in the firelight, our beds neatly made down, with the nightgowns laid out. In winter we wore nightgowns of red flannel, and when we heard of the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs who clothed her household in scarlet, we felt we could picture them exactly, down to the white herring-boning on the belts and cuffs. Ellie Robbie was such a kind and comfortable nurse (her real name was Ellen Robinson, and her father was believed by us to be the original of the saying, 'Before you can say Jack Robinson'), that bed-time was no bugbear to us. In fact, the last half-hour of the day was something to look forward to, for Mother was nearly always with us, sitting on the low 'nursing' chair, with the youngest on her lap, telling of what she did when she was little. Father often looked in too, and played us a tune, for, like R. L. S., he was a great performer on the penny-whistle! Sometimes he sang to us old Scots songs of which he had an inexhaustible….”
John Buchan Society Newsletter - Issue 86, January - February 2021 To read the latest news from the John Buchan Society simply click here!

New Book - “Lockdown Life

Jim Lyon, a former member of the Tweeddale Society Committee, has produced a booklet on how various people and organisations are coping with Covid-19. Lockdown Life is available from Whitie’s Bookshop in Peebles price £10. In it, our own Deborah Stewartby has written “Muted Museum” and “Moving House in Lockdown” while Ann Edmonds a museum volunteer and a new member of the Museum’s Committee has written “Bridge in Lockdown”. These articles, and others, may be read by clicking on the pdf document Lockdown Life.
RESIGNATION OF GOVERNOR GENERAL, JULIE PAYETTE: A LESS THAN MODEL GOVERNOR GENERAL William (Bill) Galbraith Bill, the author of “John Buchan - Model Governor General”, sent the following letter to the Ottawa Citizen on the 22 January 2021 - alas, it was not published but nonetheless it’s a thoughtful read. Throughout Canada's history since Confederation, Governors General have fulfilled this key constitutional role with dignity and aplomb. The role has evolved over the past more than 150 years. The 1931 Statute of Westminster was a watershed year when the Governor General no longer represented the British government but the Sovereign only, and Canada became responsible for its own foreign policy. While the Office of Governor General is seen today as largely ceremonial, it retains a still significant constitutional role, particularly during a minority government, with which we find ourselves now. The Governor General, representing the Queen, is "above politics" and ensures continuity of government. The ceremonial dimension, however, is equally significant. It provides this office a dignified role for encouraging excellence, drawing out what is best in people, and bestowing honours on deserving Canadians who “desire a better country” by serving their country and communities. Promoting national unity is another significant role. The first Governor General appointed after the Statute of Westminster, Lord Tweedsmuir (the writer John Buchan), observed the centrifugal force of regionalism in Canada and described the governor general as “the only trait d’union between the Atlantic and the Pacific, the St. Lawrence and the North Pole.” This was one of the reasons he believed he had to be “constantly on the road”, getting to know the country and the country him, promoting unity in the process. Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Julie Payette was not as visible as would be desirable for a Governor General and acted less than honourably by contributing to a "toxic work environment" in her office, leading to her resignation – unheard of for a GG until now. It is regrettable and disappointing, but was avoidable and is in future. There are two parts to consider, first the qualities and characteristics of an individual who might be proposed as Governor General, and second the role of the Prime Minister. A Governor General must have respect for and loyalty to the institution of the Crown that is at the foundation of our system of governance, long evolved and adapted to our unique Canadian circumstances. She or he need not be a constitutional expert (they can rely on expert advice when required), but must appreciate what their constitutional role is and work to strengthen Canada’s governance overall. Ideally, here should be a glimpse of the statesperson. The more ceremonial role requires an individual sensitive to the needs of people. Put simply, a Governor General should be a “people person”, an individual with strong interpersonal skills, who can reach out to all Canadians and take a sincere interest in them and their activities. This would avoid the kind of unfortunate situation that is the reason for the unprecedented resignation of the recent GG. Reaching out to all Canadians means travelling extensively throughout Canada, to act as that trait d’union, speaking publicly to re-inforce those values and principles that underpin our civilization – freedoms, reign of law and democratic form of government. Throughout all their activities, constitutional and ceremonial, a Governor General must display honesty, integrity and compassion, and be inspiring in their comportment toward others. A Prime Minister must have respect for the institution of the Crown and the role of Governor General, which should in turn influence who the PM would ultimately propose for the position. Prime Minister Trudeau had a duty to ensure an individual suitable for the position. We have read or heard that the Prime Minister did not avail himself of the Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments. This was a non- partisan committee established in 2012 to make non-binding recommendations to the Prime Minister for the selection of an individual to propose to the Queen to appoint as her representative. It was this process that resulted in the previous, very successful Governor General, David Johnston, being appointed (2010-2017). It was this process that was ignored in 2017. The solution is self-evident. (written 22 January 2021)
About Bill Galbraith J. William (Bill) Galbraith is the author of John Buchan: Model Governor General (Dundurn, 2013). He retired as Executive Director of the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner in 2018, after a career of 30 years of federal public service involving investment review, intelligence, national security policy and intelligence review. Prior to joining the federal government, he was with a not-for-profit economic and business research organisation, The Conference Board of Canada. He was a volunteer for over 25 years with St. John Ambulance, serving on local and national governing boards. He is a Commander of the Order of St. John and recipient of the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals. Bill lives in Ottawa with his wife Kate. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Why the book, John Buchan: Model Governor General? My interest in John Buchan, of whom I was entirely ignorant, began by chance in the national archives in Ottawa in 1988. I discovered a 1958 Department of External Affairs document (preparing for Queen’s Elizabeth’s opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959) related to the 1939 Royal Tour to Canada of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It was unrelated to what I had been researching but I subsequently picked it up, doing more research around it and publishing an article on the 50th anniversary of the Royal Tour. Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir had played a key role initiating the visit and advised the organizers. I was struck by Tweedsmuir’s love of Canada and the energy and intelligence with which he pursued his objectives of strengthening national unity and the sovereignty of Canada. After that first article, I focused my research (part-time) entirely on Tweedsmuir. As I continued the research, I wanted to share what I was learning about this remarkable individual and his contribution to Canada. I wanted to re-introduce Canadians to him and so began writing articles in various newspapers and publications. Eventually, themes began to emerged, which I set out, at the encouragement of a friend, in a draft table of contents (around 1999-2000). This evolved into the book, John Buchan: Model Governor General. The research was all done very much on a part time basis and would not have been the same book (“meticulously researched” as some reviewers have noted) had I, for example, taken a year off from my day job to write it.
“December Afternoon in Canada” by Lady Tweedsmuir Bill Galbraith has sent us an article written by JB’s wife, Susan, published in JOHN O’ LONDON’S WEEKLY December 4, 1936. To read the full article please click here.