The King’s Canucks: Canada’s peers

Did you know there are five extant Canadian peerages? The titles belong to the Peerage of the United Kingdom as Canadians were, until the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, British in nationality.

In total, 11 hereditary peerages were created between 1897 and 1964; eight before the Nickle Resolution presented to the Canadian House of Commons in 1917 petitioned George V not to grant knighthoods, baronetcies or peerages to Canadians, and three after.

Of those, the extant pre-1917 titles belong to; Euan Howard, 4th Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal (1897) – Lord-in-Waiting (Government whip), Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Air Force under Edward Heath and Joint Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords as well as Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence under Margaret Thatcher.

Charles Shaughnessy, 5th Baron Shaughnessy of Montreal (1916) – an actor noted for his appearances in US soap opera Days of Our Lives; Maxwell Aitken, 3rd Baron Beaverbrook (1917) – Lord in Waiting 1986-88 and Treasurer of the Conservative Party and the European Democrat Union 1990–92 and Thomas Morris, 4th Baron Morris of St Johns, Newfoundland (1918).

Of the three peerages created after 1917, the only extant title belongs to David Thomson, 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet (1964) – chairman of Thomson Reuters and the only Canadian hereditary peer resident in Canada.

Probably the most famous fictional Canadian hereditary peer is Evelyn Waugh’s Lord Monomark from his 1930 novel ‘Vile Bodies,’ which was made into the film ‘Bright Young Things’ by Stephen Fry in 2003.

Monomark is the proprietor of the Daily Excess newspaper and was a very thinly veiled characterisation of Waugh’s former boss at the Sunday Express, the Canadian peer Lord Beaverbrook.

Indeed, had it not been for the intervention of his lawyers, Lord Monomark would have instead been known as Lord Ottercreek.

Discretion is, perhaps, the better part of valour after all.

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