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Re: GG The Canadianness of Glenn Gould

Thank you, Anne, for researching the connection between William Lyon Mackenzie
King and Glenn Gould. This is a potentially significant finding.

> >From "At Home with Glenn Gould" on page 68 and 69 of "The Art of Glenn
> Gould" by
> John Roberts:
> Tovell: Actually, you have an interesting ancestry in terms of rebellion
> too.
> Gould : Oh, yes.  Well, old William Lyon MacKenzie is one of our proud
> forebears and I always have felt that I get my interest in things
> avant-garde from him, you know.

I read this book a few months ago and made a note to come back to this point
because I had not previously read of any link between GG & WLM or WLMK, and as
far as I know, there is no other mention of it anywhere. This in itself is
rather strange and it makes me wonder whether Gould was possibly mistaken and
therefore never raised the matter again in public. The interview cited was
conducted early in his career, whereas there are numerous later references to
Edvard Grieg and extant evidence that he tried unsuccessfully to establish the
validity of his claim to the composer's family tree by writing to a historian
in Scotland.

On the other hand, the way in which the interviewer introduced the question
suggests that he was already aware of the family history. Perhaps Walter
Homburger, his manager, had supplied Tovell with this tidbit in advance.

Gould's roots are indisputably in Upper Canada, and if he was a descendent of
WLM, I agree with Anne that this is indeed something he would have felt proud
of since Mackenzie embodied traits Gould could easily identify with as an
intellectual rebel and spirited individualist. Also, if this connection could
be confirmed, it certainly would endow his identity as a Torontonian with a
touch of noblesse.

But there's something even more tantalizing to the possibility of a genetic
link to Mackenzie's grandson, WLMK, one of the most admired prime ministers of
the 20th century. King, a life-long bachelor, is considered something of an
"eccentric" in so far as he was deeply involved in the paranormal: he
habitually consulted mediums and engaged in long conversations and visits with
ghosts, among them his departed dog and beloved mother to whom he had a
particularly strong emotional bond. The extent of his idiosyncrasies, and the
way in which they were intertwined in the affairs of state, was not known to
the public until secret diaries revealed the details of his many spiritual
quests. My memory is fallible on this point but I seem to recall that he was
also inordinately concerned with day-to-day monitoring of the state of his
health. Coincidentally, I believe either King's or Mackenzie's grave is located
in the same cemetery in which Gould is buried.

> I have tried to look up the descendants of the Mackenzies, but have had no
> luck.  The books I got on WLM and WLMK reveal them to be infinitely more
> interesting than our school history books acknowledge.

Unfortunately, both surnames are quite common, but since both men are such
important figures in Canadian history, their lineage should be fairly well
documented. The more tedious and time-consuming task would be to trace Gould's
maternal and paternal lineage in the search for a common ancestor to King and

> If anyone on this list is a history buff, a study of how GG is related to
> WLM might be interesting.

It would be fascinating. Perhaps someone in Toronto or Ottawa (hint hint) could
check it out.

Thanks again, Anne, for bringing up an interesting question. The answers might
shed more light on which aspects of Gould's fundamental personality were
attributable to nature versus nurture.