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The Bourgeois Lifestyle of Grantham Hall’s Owners

The Marler family spent most of their time in Montreal, even after their purchase of Grantham Hall in 1908—first living in their residence at 367 Peel Street and then, after November 1915, at their new address of 15 Redpath Crescent. However, summers were spent at their property in Drummondville, and the family was also there for every Christmas holiday until 1917, celebrating the New Year in fairytale surroundings. Mrs. Marler was kept busy taking care of her family’s needs and supervising the family’s half-dozen servants, but she was also responsible for welcoming their many guests. Beatrice Marler made sure that their time at Grantham Hall was spent in the utmost comfort; guests were treated to exquisite meals, and everyone carried away wonderful memories of their stay.

Black and white photograph of a seated woman posing with her three young children, the baby on her lap.

Beatrice Isabel Allan, Adelaide Edythe, Howard Meredith Marler and George Leonard Marler, Montreal, 1909. Photograph by Wm. Notman & Son.

The Marlers entertained friends and family, but they also kept up the Grantham Hall tradition of hosting dignitaries and other influential people, not only in Drummondville but also at their Montreal home. Herbert Marler was trying to enter politics as part of the Liberal Party, which was going through a rebuilding period, when the Liberal leader, Wilfried Laurier, who had led the party since 1887, died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage on February 17, 1919. William Lyon Mackenzie King was chosen to be the new Liberal leader by representatives of the party a few months after Laurier’s death. He had been a member of Parliament from 1908 to 1911 and had run again in 1917. Marler invited Mackenzie King to a sumptuous dinner party in the spring of 1920 in order to share some of his ideas and his interest in politics. Mackenzie King later wrote an eight-page letter to Marler to express his appreciation for the dinner and for how honourably he had been received by the Marler family. The Liberal leader also assured him that he would welcome any opportunity to involve Marler more closely in the party’s councils.

Colour photograph of a colonial-style stone house surrounded by a stone wall.

Former residence of Herbert Meredith Marler, located at 1260 Redpath Crescent, Montreal, 2015.

A few months later, Mackenzie King was invited for another visit, this time to Grantham Hall during the summer holidays. Marler gave him a tour of the property which he had developed with such pride. A little over a year later, the Liberal Party led by Mackenzie King formed the new government, after winning the federal election of December 6, 1921, when the party won almost every seat in the Province of Québec. Mackenzie King was Prime Minister of Canada from 1921 to 1930, with the exception of a short interlude of 3 months in 1926, and then again from 1935 to 1948, making him the longest-serving Prime Minister in Canadian history.

Black and white photograph of a seated man wearing a suit and tie.

William Lyon Mackenzie King, around 1926.