William Maxwell Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook, 1st Baron) fondsfonds MG H 156
1928 - 1964, predominant 1946 - 1964
William Maxwell Aitken was born in Maple, Ontario, on 25 May 1879,but spent his childhood in Newcastle, New Brunswick. His father was a Scottish Presbyterian Minister, the Rev. William Aitken, and his mother, Jane Noble, was the daughter of a prosperous Canadian farmer. Max Aitken was the middle child of nine surviving children.
Soon after his 21st birthday Max Aitken moved to Halifax where he met financier J.F. Stairs who in 1903 set Aitken at the head of a new company, the Royal Securities Corporation, the first bond-selling company in Eastern Canada. Within seven years, Aitken had succeeded in transforming the Corporation into an international investment bank. In 1906 Max Aitken married Gladys Drury, the daughter of General Charles Drury. They moved to Montreal where by 1910 Aitken's financial dealings had made him a multi-millionaire. The Aitkens had three children: Janet, Max, and Peter.
In December 1910, sponsored by Bonar Law, Aitken ventured into British politics where he was elected as a Liberal M.P. Thereafter, the Aitkens settled permanently in Britain where Aitken was offered a knighthood. Immediately after his election victory, Aitken became involved in the press industry. The Daily Express was his first investment, and by 1916 he was the controlling shareholder.
In 1914, on the outbreak of the First World War, Beaverbrook returned to Canada on a recruitment mission. Beaverbrook also wrote many reports from the front which he later published in his first book, Canada in Flanders, and started a daily newspaper for Canadian troops called The Canadian Daily Record. In January 1917 Max Aitken was created Baron Beaverbrook. He continued with his war efforts, publishing three further volumes of Canada in Flanders. In 1918, Beaverbrook was appointed Minister of Information but, after many disputes, Beaverbrook resigned on 19 October 1918, a few weeks before the end of the war.
Once the war was over, Max Aitken was able to devote more time to his newspaper, the Daily Express. In 1918 he acquired the Sunday Express, and in 1923 the Evening Standard. Under the company name Beaverbrook Newspapers, Aitken became one of the three "press lords", (Northcliffe and Rothermere being the other two) of the 20th-century, and made a substantial fortune.
In 1927 tragedy hit Beaverbrook when his wife Gladys died of a brain tumor. He turned his attentions on two main political campaigns during the 1930s: higher wages, and isolation and appeasement.
With the Second World War in progress, Churchill appointed Beaverbrook as Minister of Aircraft Production, and later that year as the Minister of Supply. In 1943, Beaverbrook was appointed Lord Privy Seal giving him the responsibility of post-war planning and organization of civil air transport.
After the war, Beaverbrook returned to writing. Among his works were: Men and Power, published 1956; Friends (memoirs of R.B. Bennett), published 1959; Courage (memoirs of Sir James Dunn), 1961; The Divine Propagandist (an interpretation of the life of Christ), published 1962; The Decline and Fall of Lloyd George, published 1963; My Early Life (an autobiography), posthumously published 1964; The Abdication of Edward VIII, published 1966 after Beaverbrook's death.
Post-war he proceeded to bestow generous endowments on his native province, including a students' residence for the University of New Brunswick (Lady Beaverbrook Residence) completed in 1929, a library, and many scholarships. Other endowments followed, including a skating rink, theatre, town hall and public library in Newcastle, a civic centre in Chatham and a theatre and art gallery in Fredericton. In 1951 he formally renounced his United Kingdom citizenship. He set up two charitable organizations in 1954, the First and Second Beaverbrook Foundations (later amalgamated to form the Beaverbrook Foundation Trust) to which he transferred all his United Kingdom assets, including his shares in Beaverbrook Newspapers. The trust deed stipulated that all the income of the Foundation was to be devoted to charities, including scholarships to the University of New Brunswick, hospitals in the United Kingdom, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, England and Wales, libraries and art galleries and to promote such other charitable purposes as the trustees might think fit. Lord Beaverbrook was appointed Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick in 1947.
On 7 June 1963 Beaverbrook married his second wife, Marcia Christoforides (Lady Dunn), widow of his friend Sir James Dunn. A few weeks after his 85th birthday, Beaverbrook died on 9 June 1964 in Cherkeley, England. His son Sir Max Aitken took over the running of the newspapers and the Canadian and British Beaverbrook Foundations.
Beaverbrook, William Maxwell Aitken, Baron, 1879-1964.