From the desk of Ann ten Cate, Reference Archivist at the Royal B.C. Museum
Sometimes opening a box at the Archives leads to a little gem of a document – and makes the the hair on your neck stand up. Last week, after having recently seen the film “The King’s Speech”, I happened to come across a letter written by Winston Churchill just before the First World War. The film ends in 1939, just before the Second World War and features a cigar-chomping Churchill, appointed for a second time as Lord of the Admiralty, prognosticating about the coming war with Hitler.
The item in our collection was written by a much younger Churchill during his first stint as Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, and was sent to Richard McBride, the Premier of British Columbia, at Christmas time. We only have a copy of the letter, as the original was kept by the McBride family, but the content and prose are so characteristic that I could easily picture Churchill at his desk at Blenheim dashing off this thank-you note. Churchill (1874 – 1965) was one of the world’s great orators and writers, and was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1953. I think you’ll agree that this unpublished letter shows both his amazing prescience and his wonderful ability with words.
Here’s the full transcript of the letter, from accession 90-0009:
Blenheim, 26 Dec 1911
My dear Mr. McBride,
I have received from your Agent-General an intimation of the arrival of a grizzly bear skin which you have with so much kindness sent me as a personal gift. I am very grateful to you for it, and if I may say so, still more for the friendship of which it is a token, which I highly value.
I shall not lose hope yet that I may be able to see your beautiful Columbia before another Christmas has passed away.
Meanwhile, accept my most sincere good wishes for you and yours in the year 1912. Yours sincerely,
Winston S. Churchill
For more Churchillian quotes, check out http://jpetrie.myweb.uga.edu/bulldog.html