MB: living and writing the early days of parks canada

JC Campbell to MB Williams, Apr 1936

Transcription / Additional Information

Department of the Interior
National Parks of Canada

16th April, 1936.

My dear M.B.,

            Congratulations. I have information that you have out Grey Owled Grey Owl and I understand that you were a big success at the National Council meeting.

            There is one thing that you have got to do, however, and I feel you appreciate this and that is, go slowly and take real care. I got quite a thrill out of hearing that you were so much appreciated. Of course the thing is now that they will want you to talk frequently which you must not do.

            Your letter just bore out every conviction that I have arrived at in connection with our gentleman friend. So far there has been nothing done about the picture and I am certainly not going to be a party to spending any Government money in which he directs and has much to say about it. As far as Government work is concerned I look upon him as being practically ruined and J.B. feels the same way bout it. If he wishes to take it on his own with the Publishers money let him go to it but we are certainly not in favour of allowing Grey Owl and his connections spending money on a picture which would not be along the lines that we want. 

            I have not seen Hugh Eayrs of the Macmillan Company since Grey Owl returned but I believe that he will be quite in agreement with us in this matter.

            The Jewish lady is the daughter of a pretty well to do Insurance Broker in the city of Toronto and Grey Owl while in Toronto stayed in their home. Personally, I do not think that she has any other idea but to make money out of him and he is just egotistic enough to think she is doing this for personal liking. I am not a darn bit sorry for Lovat Dickson. In the first place he didn’t play the game when the arrangements were made for the tour and he tried to use great pressure through the High Commissioner’s office in London which didn’t have any effect here as the arrangements for Grey Owl’s leave had already been made. Grey Owl has no idea of talking about anybody or anything but Grey Owl and he also informed me how much good he has done for Canada. He told me one morning that he had got practically above this beaver stuff so I take it that from a National Parks standpoint you can count him out. The unfortunate thing about it is that

- while -

Miss. M. B. Williams,

24 Wendover Court,



while we know the truth now we will have to let him carry on if the Publishers so wish until such times as he meets his Waterloo.

            Cory is a peculiar chap but as far as I am concerned he has made no secret that he was endeavouring to earn a livelihood writing animal stories, preaching conservation and boosting Canada and I give him credit for liking to do the job providing he can eat while he is doing it. Cory told me the story about the meeting at which he should have been chairman and he was quite right to leave the meeting without making a fuss. The whole story is that Dickson didn’t understand Grey Owl and Grey Owl succeeded in putting it over him like a tent.

            I quite agree with you that the title of Cory’s book is mis-leading and I wrote and told him so but at the same time he was preparing the ground for Grey Owl’s lecture tour even if the main purpose was to make some money for himself. I personally believe he likes the job and as far as I know, except in this book matter, he has played the game.

            Grey Owl has cost me plenty both mentally and financially and he thinks no more about me today or anybody else as far as I can make out, except those who are pandering to him so that they can make money but I am beginning to think that unless he straightens up he will find himself in the discard in a very short time. He is without doubt the most plausible individual I ever met and he looks upon everything that is done for him as his right and neither appreciates nor remembers in any shape or form the support and kindness he has received.

            Cory I understand expects to leave England for Canada on the 16th of May. You might write me again as soon as possible and let us know if there is anything we can do. Whatever you do try and conserve your strength.

            Kindest regards to Mrs. Herridge and best wishes for your health and happiness, I am, as ever

                Yours sincerely,


                Director of Publicity.




J.C. Campbell, “JC Campbell to MB Williams, Apr 1936,” MB: Living and Writing the Early Years of Parks Canada, accessed April 24, 2018, http://mbwilliams.academic-news.org/items/show/13.


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