Monday, April 2, 2012

Esmond Butler
Secretary to the Governor-General

Esmond Unwin Butler (1922 - 1989), one of the key developers of the Order of Canada, served six Canadian governors general over 31 years.

Born in Wawanesa, Manitoba, Butler served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the 1939 -45 war and saw service on the Murmansk run. After the war and studies, he worked as a journalist for United Press in Switzerland.

Assistant-Secretary to Vincent Massey

In 1955, he joined Governor-General Vincent Massey's staff. Butler was hired to deal with the press which had been critical of Massey's personality ("as prim as a glass of sherry") and his appointment (the London Times objected to the appointment of a Canadian to the govenor general's post). Butler spent two years with Massey.

Northern Tour 1956

In March, 1956, Butler accompanied Governor-General Massey on his "Northern Tour". The photograph shown below was taken at Resolute Bay, N.W.T.

Butler posing with Inuit child

Assistant Press Secretary to Queen Elizabeth (1958 -1959)

Queen Elizabeth, who was facing criticism from the Commonwealth that all her staff were British, asked Massey if Butler could join her staff as assistant press secretary. In 1958, Butler became the first Empire representative at the Palace serving Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace for 16 months. Butler spent holidays with the Royal family and while at the Palace met Georgiana North, niece of the Earl of Guilford, whom he married in 1960.

Secretary to Governors-General Vanier to Sauve (1959 - 1985)

Butler returned to Canada in 1959 as secretary to Georges Vanier. Butler's appointment was not without controversy. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker wanted to appoint his press secretary Jim Nelson, but Vanier did not want Diefenbaker's man in the position. The Queen's private secretary recommended Butler and the Queen herself may have recommended Butler to Diefenbaker. Butler was retained as Secretary by succeeding Governors-General Roland Michener, Jules Leger, Edward Shreyer and Jeanne Sauve. Madame Sauve replaced the tradition-bound Butler in 1985. Butler was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Morocco.

Order of Canada

In 1967, Butler was instrumental in the establishing of the Order of Canada, the country's highest honour which recognizes citizens for outstanding achievements or for exceptional contributions to the culture of the country.

Butler is shown coordinating the Order of Canada investitures in the photographs below.

Jules Leger receiving the Companion of the Order of Canada
August 2, 1973

Joyce Bryant and Governor General Jules VanierOctober 24, 1973

Lorraine Monk with Governor-General Roland Michener
October 24, 1973

Canada Post Official First Day Cover: Roland Michener Stamp

On October 21, 1992, Canada Post issued a pair of stamps commemorating the accomplishments of Governor-General Roland Michener.

The official first day cover cachet features a photograph of former Ontario Premier John Robarts receiving the Order of Canada from Roland Michener. Celarly seen in the background is Esmond Butler.

Esmond Butler Franking
Free mail privileges were granted to all letters sent from the Secretary to the Governor-General.

October 11, 1965
Governor -General Georges Vanier

Esmond Butler 1

October 25, 1967
Governor-General Roland Michener

Esmond Butler 3