Cabinet Portraits

M. GRATTAN O’LEARY December 15 1930

Cabinet Portraits

M. GRATTAN O’LEARY December 15 1930

Cabinet Portraits


A distinguished physician and surgeon with a record of bril' liant service in the Great War, 1Dr. Murray MacLaren was a natural choice for the Min' ister of Rational Health and Pensions

Farmer, pharmacist, ex'soldier, a graduate of the school of municipal politics—such is the background of Hon. T. G. Murphy, now risen to major cabinet ran\ as Minister of the Interior

Minister of National Health and Pensions

Minister of the Interior

FROM the standpoint of success in politics, Murray MacLaren came into the world with three distinct advantages. He was a Maritimer; he was Scotch; and his father had destined him for medicine. To be born anywhere between Campbellton and Sydney is an equivalent to the inevitableness of some day owning a bank, or being president of a university, or getting into Parliament or a Cabinet; but when, added to that, one happens to be Scotch and of the medical profession there is simply no escape. If, by way of proof of this, one took all the Maritimers and Scotsmen and doctors out of our past and present Parliaments and banks and universities, there would be no Canada, or at least no Canada worth writing about. There would be no John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie; no Joe Howe or John Thompson, or Leonard Tilley or Dr. Tupper, or R. L. Borden or R. B. Bennett. And we have mentioned but a few; a few, that is, of Maritimers and Scotsmen and doctors.

Ships and Healers and Soldiers

XJOT that Dr. Murray MacLaren hasn’t good qualities and attributes other than those mentioned. The truth is emphatically otherwise. He came, to begin with, of most excellent stock. Back of Murray MacLaren are forests of pine and spruce, tall ships and the seven seas, lumbermen and craftsmen who produced and fashioned the peerless clippers that made New Brunswick famous in the Maritime marts of the world. Back of him are mercantile princes, pioneers in lumber and shipping. Back of him, too, is achievement in medicine and surgery, the careers of a brilliant father and of an equally distinguished son. And with the trees and the ships and the healers, there are soldiers, too; fdrMacLarens marched in the ranks of the millions who fought in the Great War. »

Richibucto is now but a tiny windswept hamlet, the end of a twenty-mile railway looking out over the Straits of Northumberland, revealing less of promise than decay. But time was, away back in the 60’s, when it had its day of fame; when its seafaring sons built the finest and fastest clippers on all the seas; when its sailors went out to all the ports of the world; when it had lumber and prosperous merchants and trade.

Here, in 1861, Murray MacLaren was born. His father was Dr. Lawrence MacLaren, a native of Charlottetov/n, P.E.I., and his mother was Jane Murray Jardine, member of one of the oldest of Richibucto families, prominent in lumbering and shipping. Dr. Lawrence MacLaren had built up an extensive practice throughout the County of Kent, and was famed in the countryside for his exploits in surgery. His fame, indeed, attracted the authorities of Saint John, and in 1864, when the subject of our sketch was but three years old, he moved to the Loyalist city.

There Murray MacLaren grew up, went to school, got his early education at the old Saint John Grammar School. Later on he went to the University of New Brunswick, where he was as prominent in athletics as in scholastic achievement, and whence he was graduated with the degree of B.A. His father decreed he should take medicine. So, when still in his twenties, MacLaren,, Jr., set out for Vienna, studied medicine there under some of the most famous living surgeons.. Later on he came to London, was attached to a hospital there, finally returned to Saint John, entered upon a practice in his native city.

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IN was THE particularly Year of our that Lord, way 1812, if it so Dublin happened was not that a healthy the Irish place were for of the the Irish. name of It Murphy. Wolf Tone had miserably failed, Lord Edward Fitzgerald was gone, Emmett was in his grave, the men of Munster had hung up their pipes and put back their green flags, and Tom Moore had begun writing his ballads of defeat. So it was, at least we shall assume, that a certain Murphy, deciding that Ireland was a distressful country and would always be that way, packed up his family and their few belongings, bade good-by to Kingstown, took a small ship, braved fever and the Atlantic for a month, finally arrived penniless and homeless, one of the exiles, in the County of Northumberland, Ontario.

Thus the Irish background and beginning of Thomas Gerow Murphy, who, 118 years after his paternal great grandfather landed in Canada, achieved the political eminence of a Ministerial post which has known a Clifford Sifton, a Sir James Lougheed, an Arthur Meighen.

On his maternal side, T. G. Murphy is French Huguenot. His mother’s people were forced to leave France by the revocation of the edict of Nantes, came to the new world, settled in New York, or, as it was then called, New Amsterdam. Like all the Huguenots, or most of them, her people became passionately devoted to the British crown, stood by George the Third in the Revolution, left the Republic rather than forfeit British citizenship, joined the trek of the United Empire Loyalists, settled in New Brunswick, finally came to Ontario.

Descended from Pioneer Stock

GENERATIONS of Murphys, with their Huguenot strain, lived in Northumberland. They were good farmers, possessed rich lands, raised livestock, sold dairy products, took no part in politics. Traditionally Tory, they frowned on the activities of William Lyon Mackenzie, detested Papineau, were untouched by the Gritism of George Brown. Finally, the father of the subject of this sketch became a passionate admirer of Sir John Macdonald.

Thomas Gerow Murphy, born in 1883, grew up in this atmosphere. He worked on a farm, went to the country school, had no thought of politics, of becoming a politician. Sir John Macdonald he never saw, nor Blake nor Mowat; his knowledge of political chieftains began with Laurier, Borden. Like so many country boys in the 90’s, he decided to become a schoolteacher. To achieve this end he worked so hard that he suffered a breakdown; decided to become a lawyer instead.

a breakdown; to a lawyer His father, a plain man, objected. Mr. Murphy, Sr., told his son that he distrusted the legal profession. The public mind at that time was filled with political scandal. Elder Murphy concluded that lawyers and politicians were at the bottom of most of this wrongdoing, told his son that if he became a lawyer there was danger of his becoming a politician. Murphy, Jr., abandoned the law.

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He became perhaps the most outstanding physician and surgeon in New Brunswick. And Murray MacLaren was always far more than the mere distinguished specialist in medicine, accessible to but a favored few. The poor and the humble, the friendless and the obscure, could always go to his office at any time, get his services and advice. And there are records, too, of this highly-priced surgeon going out into the countryside, facing the worst that the Bay of Fundy wintry weather could produce, to give aid and succor to poor families in the surrounding district. It was one of the things, one of the traits in his character, which made him perhaps the most beloved physician in the city of Saint John.

Election to Parliament in 1925


were always wider than mere success in his profession. In everything that went on in the Saint John of those days he took an active interest. They were the days when Saint John boasted proudly of its Eddie Connolly, who had won the middleweight championship of England from Dick Burge and carried the great Kid Lavigne to eighteen rounds; when it boasted, too, of its City Cornet Band, which had won first place at the Chicago World’s Fair; dwelt proudly upon the exploits of its great skater, McCormick; and, last but not least, upon the name and fame of its celebrated Paris Crew. In all of these things, in everything that went on, from the Lower Cove to the North End, and in the Market Slip, and in between, he took an active pride and interest, was one of those to whom people look up to proudly as a first citizen.

He wasn’t much interested in politics. Even in the days when William Pugsley was getting Ottawa to build Courtenay Bay and was talking of Saint John as the “Liverpool of America,” Dr. MacLaren left Conservative politics to his medical confrère, Dr. Daniel; and it was not until 1925 that he consented to become a candidate, securing overwhelming election.

In Parliament, sitting behind Mr. Meighen, he was never spectacular. He was not the type of man who, by intrigue or the use of doubtful methods, or by mere superficial qualities, achieved parliamentary success. Shy, reserved, unostentatious, his gifts were rather those which win the confidence of those more critical and worthwhile than the average political audience; the sort of gifts that are valuable and valued in council, in the determination of supreme things in politics. He spoke but seldom, but when he did speak it was with an authority and sincerity that held the attention of the House. He could not be a bitter partisan. There is a kindliness about the man, and a philosophy, which prohibit meanness and pettiness. Dr. Johnson wrote of Burke that if you took refuge with him in a doorway from a shower you would know you were in the presence of a great man. One could not meet Dr. Murray MacLaren in any crowd anywhere without being immediately impressed with his kindliness and courtliness of bearing, with his transparent honesty. Lacking in all guile, shunning smart and subtle manners, his thoughts are clear and

straightforward, his words simple and forthright.

Distinguished War Service

DOR the post to which he has been -L called—National Health and Pensions —he possesses the best of equipment. A department of national health is something new in our Federal Government. Up to ten years ago Canada spent hundreds of thousands of dollars annually caring for the health of its animals, but, for some curious reason, spent not a cent in safeguarding the health of its humans. It was one of the achievements of Hon. Newton Wesley Rowell, during his brief intervention in Dominion affairs, that he created a Department of Health. Today, after less than a decade, it is a foremost and very vital branch of the Government’s activities. Staffed by some of the most eminent physicians of the country, and carrying on investigations and research, it achieves a remarkable work in educating the people respecting matters of health, performs an enormously valuable work in reducing the mortality rate.

Dr. MacLaren’s capacity to direct this work is unquestionable. His own record in medicine—already referred to—is an impressive one. For years a specialist in surgery, a consulting surgeon to the Saint JohnGeneral Hospital, a past president of the Canadian Medical Society, and with distinguished services to his credit as a physician in the Great War, his standing in his profession is among the highest in the Dominion.

And as with health, so with pensions. Dr. Murray MacLaren is a war veteran, a veteran almost of more than one war. Away back in the early days in Saint John, when he was a young practising physician, he took an active interest in the old 62nd Fusiliers, which in 1915 went to France as the 26th Battalion. And just thirty years ago, when the Boer war was at its height, Dr. MacLaren raised No. 8 bearer company and No. 8 field ambulance, both of which distinguished themselves on the veldt.

Again, when the Great War broke out, Dr. MacLaren was among the first in Saint John to volunteer for service, going to Valcartier in the Medical Corps, proceeding overseas with the first Canadian contingent. His services at the front were brilliant and distinguished. He commanded the Canadian hospital at Etaples ; was in charge of the Granville Canadian special hospital; was deputy director of medical services for the Canadian army for a year before the Armistice. It was said of him that at Etaples he was a real “angel” to the wounded Canadian soldiers, ministering to them with fatherly care, and working at times almost day and night in the operating room. His skill and unflagging devotion were such that they brought him high recognition; he was mentioned in dispatches in December, 1915, was subsequently created a C.M.G. The Portuguese Government, too, conferred upon him a Commander of the Order of Avis.

Dr. MacLaren also served as the Canadian representative on the Imperial Board for artificial limbs, and represented Canada on the Inter-Allied Committee dealing with disabled soldiers; also at the Congress of Inter-Allied surgeons. The close of the war found him taking command of the Canadian special hospital at Buxton, a post which he held until November, 1919, when he returned to Canada after having served overseas continuously for over five years.

He was not the only MacLaren to serve in the Great War. His eldest son, E. N. Murray MacLaren, a brilliant graduate of New Brunswick University, was a lieutenant in the Canadian artillery,

fought with distinction in a howitzer battery, and won the Military Cross.

Interest In Veterans’ Problems

rT'HUS as a surgeon and physician, and L also as a soldier, Murray MacLaren has excellent credentials for the post he occupies. Ilis anxiety to help returned men, and above all to give a square deal to the common soldier, certainly cannot be challenged. From the day that he entered the House, Dr. MacLaren evinced an active and above all an informed interest in the problems of the veteran, and he was a member, and a very energetic one, of all the parliamentary committees which dealt with soldier problems. Not little of what is best of the most advanced and humane legislation upon our statute books that concern and affect returned men, is due to his advocacy.

Personally, Dr. MacLaren is one of the most charming and best beloved men the House of Commons. His whole character compounded of kindliness, he one of those politicians who has friends in all parties, personal enemies in none. Conservative by conviction and uncompromising in his views, he is yet the very antithesis of the bigotted partisan, and tolerance of the opinions of others and wide charity for all the world are among his outstanding characteristics.


in is in A a

MacLean’s Magazine, December 15, 1930

r A shy man, modest and unassuming, he is the best of all companions, a cultured conversationalist, a lover of good literature, a connoisseur of the finer things of life. Given his old brier pipe, a few con1 genial companions, and an hour or so of 1 leisure, and Dr. MacLaren will recall with 3 charming enthusiasm memories of the 1 brave days of his native city.

1 It is not the friendliness or the tolerance t of a weak man, of a politician without 3 definite opinions. In politics as in religion 1 Murray MacLaren has his pronounced

creeds, his unalterable beliefs. A Presbyi terian, brought up on the Westminster 3 Confession, he revealed the sterner fibre 3 of his character when a few years ago he 1 was one of those in Parliament who led 1 the fight against church union. It was 3 fight conducted without bitterness and 1 with a wide measure of charity, but with

something of the old Scottish principle of 3 no surrender.

1 Not a debater or an orator, not a major ? parliamentarian, and without administra3 tive experience, Dr. MacLaren’s achieve) ments in Mr. Bennett’s Cabinet are with L the future. One thing, however, is certain.

It is that if he does not bring the Ministry ' brilliance and high political talent, he will 1 at least give it a rare measure of intellec1 tual integrity, give it what is much rarer ; in political life, the benefit of a singularly

high character.

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Farmer, Druggist, Soldier

TN 1905 a younger brother was going *■ West to take a homestead, begin farming. The future Minister of the Interior decided that he would trail along, and in due time settled in Manitoba. For some years he did his best to become a prosperous farmer.

His best was not enough. The West was in the grip of hard times, rural conditions were not promising, wheat prices were low, freight rates were high, capital was scarce. Murphy, who tells that he learned more about land settlement in those years than in all the years since, decided to give up farming, to become a druggist. In 1911 he was graduated from a Winnipeg school of pharmacy.

He didn’t stay in Winnipeg. Looking for a job, he was told that the National Drug Company had taken over a business in Neepawa, would make him manager on the understanding that if he made good he could buy out the business. Murphy went to Neepawa, made good, bought out the business, and has lived there continuously since.

There was the interruption of the war. Murphy, not belying the implications of his name, enlisted as a member of the 259th battalion, was drafted for service in Russia. He enlisted as a private. He went into the ranks, not because he could not have begun as a lieutenant or a captain, but because, feeling himself ignorant of military knowledge, he declined to accept responsibility for his comrades’ lives. He served as a private until demobilized.

The expedition to Russia was a great adventure, romantic. It was in 1917, when the Russian offensive had collapsed, when the Czar was tottering on his throne, when the brief-famed Kerensky was coming to the fore, when allied armies, desperate to maintain Russia in arms, began their forlorn effort to quench the revolution. Murphy was in the small Canadian force which, with Japanese, Italians, French and British, went to

Vladivostock to support those Czechoslovakians who, having surrendered with the Austrian army to the Imperial Russian troops, declined to be imprisoned by the army of the revolution, fought their way across Russia to the sea. Peace found the allied force still at Vladivostock. Demobilization prevented the expedition going forward, and Murphy returned to Canada, to his drug store at Neepawa.

His Political Debut

rT'HE war had widened his horizon. In 1925, forgetting the non-political traditions of his fathers, he ran for mayor in Neepawa, got elected, made a good chief magistrate. Neepawa’s financial affairs were not in a healthful condition. Murphy instituted reforms, compelled rigid economy, put the municipality’s house in order, was generally acclaimed by the citizens. He could have been mayor again, and probably for years, had not a larger opportunity beckoned. There was a Federal election that year, and the Tory party, always more or less forlorn in Manitoba’s rural ridings, were seeking a good candidate. Murphy, the strongest man in sight, succumbed to pressure, overlooked lack of financial aid, accepted the party’s nomination.

It was a three-cornered fight, with a Liberal and a Progressive also in the field, and Murphy, although receiving a minority of the votes, was elected. He entered the House of Commons as a supporter of Arthur Meighen.

His political success was but temporary. Neepawa was almost traditionally Liberal, a Tory victory there was -an accidental circumstance, and the master minds of Liberalism set out to remedy the accident. They remedied it so that a year later, when the 1926 election came on, Murphy was left at home.

He remained there, looking after his business, until September last. Then he again became a candidate, fought under Mr. Bennett’s banner in a straight party contest, was victorious. He was one of eleven Manitoba Conservatives who were ready to come to Ottawa on the morning of September 29.

Nobody picked him for the Cabinet.

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Continued from page 36 Nobody, that is, outside of Mr. Bennett. Mr. Murphy, whatever his talents as a druggist, a soldier and a mayor of Neepawa, was not looked upon as Ministerial timber. Rosebery once said of a druggist who had risen to political eminence that he was “a village apothecary examining the tongue of the State.” Democracy has changed a lot since the days of Rosebery’s sneer, but it is nevertheless true that none of our stoutest democrats believed that Neepawa’s druggist and ex-mayor would be Manitoba’s representative in the Ministry.

Their choice, or their guess, was Mr. Robert Rogers. Mr. Rogers, making the guess unanimous, packed his bag on the morrow of the election, started for Ottawa, got his name into the headlines as the potential Manitoba Minister. It all seemed natural, logical. “Bob” Rogers had marched and fought with Roblin, was a power behind the throne with Borden, had wealth and power and prestige, was as much a part of Winnipeg as old Fort Garry itself.

Mr. Bennett had other ideas. No slave to tradition, under no obligation to the Old Guard, he disregarded a multiplicity of advice, fooled the political oracles of the prairies, passed over Mr. Rogers, sent a wire to Mr. Murphy. The druggist of Neepawa became Minister of the Interior, a major Ministerial post. A new precedent, one of many to be made by Mr. Bennett, had been established.

Upheaval and Change

'T'ODAY T. G. Murphy sits in the chair

that once knew Clifford Sifton, is distinctly not the village apothecary examining the tongue of the State. No one would pretend that he is a Sifton, or a James Lougheed, or an Arthur Meighen. He is, however, a good average man in politics—self-reliant, public spirited, depending upon hard work for results.

His task is not an easy one. He entered the Interior Department at a time of upheaval and change. The Western provinces are being given their resources, involving study, caution, danger of friction, of mistakes. His first duty and his most important one was to see that readjustment was made with the minimum of dispute, that the new machinery was set in motion with the maximum chance of success.

His department, at best, is difficult. It used to be said, and truly, that its activities were housed under a score of roofs, scattered over as many of Ottawa’s streets. This may or may not be true, but what is true is that Mr. Murphy is the administrator of the Northland, of all areas not included within provincial boundaries; that he must look after our Indians, is in charge of the water powers of the Dominion, must look after topographic surveys, is responsible for all map making, also for our forests.

Indian affairs alone, involving a complex problem and calling for an enlightened humanitarian mind, is a big task by itself. Mr. Murphy is tackling the problem with a fresh, an eager mind. Canada for generations has followed the policy of aiding the Indian to develop areas set aside for him; helping him to become a farmer, a rancher, a law-abiding citizen. The policy, on the whole, has been suc-

cessful; but not so successful as to exclude efforts at improvement or new and more progressive ideas.

In the United States the Hoover administration has abandoned the policy of making the Indian a farmer. Deciding that the nomadic strain is too strong, it has begun luring Indians outside their reservations, mixing them with white people, encouraging them to absorb the white’s ideals of life, his competitive instinct, his capacity to earn his own living. Thus far the plan has succeeded. Washington has found, to the surprise of many, that Indians who were improvident and unsuccessful as farmers make excellent mechanics, tradesmen. Murphy, studying this experiment, and well aware of its progress, has decided to overhaul Canada’s Indian policy in the light of the Republic’s new plan.

A New Policy

TT IS in the Northland, however, that L his opportunity lies. And Mr. Murphy, entirely free from vanity and the propensity to boast, is yet modestly aware of it.

“Today,” he says, “our eyes are turned to the North. We have opportunity of making the Arctic a great asset to this Dominion. I consider this my chance to make a contribution to the future of this country. If I can so direct the policy of Government that the Northland, a region hitherto considered worthless, will become richly valuable to Canada, my years in office will have been well spent.”

Murphy is framing a policy for the next decade, is conscious of it. He sees modern invention conquering distance. The prospectors of his own department wing their way over Arctic wastes questing for precious metals; his engineers harness waterfalls in regions hitherto inhabited by Eskimos and Indians, his officials report transmission towers rising in the primeval Northern forests. Everywhere about him, every day in his office, facts are borne upon him telling for need of a development policy to safeguard the public interest. Murphy, unless those who have watched him work mistake him greatly, will try to devise that policy.

In Parliament, as in his capacity as an administrator, he is yet untried. His gifts are scarcely those of a House of Commons gladiator, or of a tribune of the people. Physically small, a thin nervous man with sharp acquiline features, he has not the magnetism of a compelling personality, has shown no powers in debate. But much of history gives testimony that success in politics and administration is not always dependent upon a towering physique nor upon organ tones of oratory.

Personally Murphy is a plain man, without frills or fuss or feathers; modest, shy, unassuming, but a likeable companion. Living on the prairies, he is fond of the outdoors, is an ardent sportsman, hunts ducks, is a good shot, an uncertain golfer, skips for a curling rink in winter, never permits his pastimes to keep him from church. A United churchman, he is more than a Sunday morning Christian; makes what he has left the measure of his charity; has no pretense of superior righteousness, in short, a man who promises to contribute much useful achievement to the problems of the times.