Barry Wilson Collection

Barry Wilson has been working for the Western Producer for 30 years as a journalist writing on topics such as federal policy development, federal-provincial agricultural relations, national farm lobbies, world trade talks, and world food issues. 

At the age of fourteen Mr. Wilson began collecting political memorabilia and the items in the Collection all have a unique story behind them. At the core of the Barry Wilson Collection are the signatures of every Canadian Prime Minister between 1867 and 2009.

This web exhibit focuses on the motivations behind and highlights of the collection.  It features images of all the items in the Wilson Collection and

a lecture given by Barry Wilson in Chelsea, Quebec to the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (audio file below). All of these items in the collection are linked to the Archives and Special Collections archival finding aid.

Confederation - World War 1

John Abott correspondence This is an 1890 letter from Sir John Abbott while he was Justice Minister. 
Letter from John Abbott
Alexander Mackenzie The Barry Wilson Collection contains three items pertaining to Alexander Mackenzie. First, there is a rare lithograph print of Alexander Mackenzie standing in the House of Commons. Second, there is a newspaper account of Mackenzie delivering the first Liberal Throne Speech to the Canadian House of Commons in 1864. Thirdly, there is a signature of Mackenzie dated 1867.
Alexander Mackenzie Lithograph
Sir John Thompson Contained within the Wilson Collection there is a 1880s drawing of John Thompson during his time as Justice Minister. Also included in the collection is a letter that John Thompson wrote as Justice Minister prior to his term as Prime Minister.
Sir John Thompson letter, page 1
Bowell Land Deed This land deed is signed by Sir Mackenzie Bowell granting land to his daughter.
Sir Mackenzie Bowell Land Deed, page 1
Sir Charles Tupper Letter The Sir Charles Tupper letter is addressed to Nova Scotia lawyer Colin Chisholm, dated April 21, 1898.  The letter, written while Tupper was Leader of the Opposition, discusses Tupper’s effort to have payment made to the contractors on the Oxford, New Glasgow and Cape Breton Railway.  Charles Tupper Letter, 1898
Sir Charles Tupper Lithograph Sir Charles Tupper Lithograph collected by Barry Wilson. Sir Charles Tupper Lithograph
1891 Conservative Election Poster This poster is from the 1891 election, Sir John A. Macdonald’s last, before his death. The Conservative Party ran on an anti-free trade platform and this particular poster circulated throughout New Brunswick. The poster illustrates the perceived negative effect that free trade evident between the New England states and their farmers.
Conservative Election Poster, 1891
Sir John A Macdonald correspondence This is a letter signed and dated by Sir John A. Macdonald in May 1864. The letter was presumably written in Quebec City while the Government was organizing the Quebec City Conference, one of the three Conferences that led to Confederation in 1867.
John A. Macdonald correspondence
Sir John A Macdonald Tapestry One of the most notable items in the Wilson Collection is the unique hand embroidered tapestry sewn by the Conservative Ladies of the Gatineau Valley in the late 1880’s. This framed tapestry commemorates Sir John A. Macdonald’s funding of the Gatineau Valley Railway in 1888-1889. The tapestry features a caricature of The Old Chieftain bordered by lace with the inscription: “From a grateful and deserving people”. Unfortunately the Prime Minister died in1891 before the Ladies of the Gatineau were able to bestow the tapestry upon him.
Sir John A. Macdonald Tapestry
Wilfrid Laurier Lecture This document is a signed copy of a speech entitled A Lecture on Political Liberalism that was given to the Canadian Club of Quebec City in 1877.  Laurier Lecture on Liberalism, cover
Wilfrid Laurier Letter Correspondence, dated August 12, 1896, from Sir Wilfred Laurier after winning the 1896 election to a Member of Parliament insisting that the Member attend the Parliamentary session.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier Correspondence, 1896
Wilfrid Laurier Postcard Wilfrid Laurier Postcard collected by Barry Wilson.
Wilfrid Laurier Vanity Fair On the cover of this 1897 cover of Vanity Fair stands the Right Honourable Sir Wilfred Laurier. The “Men of the Day” column features Sir Wilfred Laurier and notes that Laurier is, “probably one of the most remarkable Colonials who came to England for the Diamond Jubilee”. The pose was recaptured for the Liberal Leadership Convention in June 1984 that coincided with Trudeau’s retirement from politics. Sir Wilfrid Laurier Vanity Fair Cover, 1897

World War 1 and 2

Sir Robert Borden Portrait This 1921 portrait photograph of Prime Minister Robert Borden is accompanied by a Prime Minster Borden’s signature.
Sir Robert Borden Portrait
Arthur Meighen Print Barry Wilson attributes the procurement of this signed print of Prime Minister Arthur Meighen, in between Sir John A. Macdonald and George-Etienne Cartier, to when “the collection really began.” There is also a lithograph drawing of Arthur Meighen.
Arthur Meighen Poster
Mackenzie King Election Poster This Mackenzie King war-time poster that was located in 1980 by Barry Wilson’s brother.  The caption on the poster reads, “Son Passé garantit L’avenir“ or “His Past Guarantees your future”.
Mackenzie King Election Poster
R.B. Bennett Correspondence This letter is from R.B. Bennett to Miss Irene Moore of Bellville Ontario. Dated March 25 1945, it was sent to her in Canada after R.B. Bennett had moved to Mickleham, England.
Bennet letter

Cold War

Yousuf Karsh Photograph of Louis St. Laurent This portrait was taken by famous Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. This portrait was taken in 1957 and is signed by both Karsh and St. Laurent.
Louis St Laurent © Estate of Yousuf Karsh
John Diefenbaker Election Posters
Vote Diefenbaker Election Poster
John Diefenbaker Letter This letter, signed by John Diefenbaker is addressed to the editor of the Kinistino Post dated April 22, 1976. Diefenbaker thanks the editor for a copy of “Farm, 76”. This letter, as well as two commemorative coins were donated to Barry Wilson by the Diefenbaker Club.
Letter from Diefenbaker
Pearson Pennant and Letter The first item that Barry Wilson received was this Letter sent from Lester B. Pearson. When the flag debate commenced in 1964, Wilson, at the age of fourteen, designed a flag and sent it to Prime Minister Pearson. Wilson was surprised during the summer of 1964 when a letter from Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson arrived in the mail.
Lester B. Pearson poster and letter
Pearson Signature This signature was obtained from Pearson’s long time campaign manager in the Algoma riding. This signature was sent while Pearson was the Prime Minister of Canada.
Lester B. Pearson signature
Pierre Elliot Trudeau - Charter of Rights and Freedoms Pierre Elliot Trudeau - Charter of Rights and Freedoms Program collected by Barry Wilson in 1984.
Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms signed by Trudeau
Pierre Elliot Trudeau - Booklet Pierre Elliot Trudeau Program garhered by Barry Wilson in 1984.
Pierre Trudeau booklet title page
Pierre Elliot Trudeau - Button Pierre Elliot Trudeau - Button collected by Barry Wilson in 1984.
"Tribute Trudeau" button
Pierre Elliot Trudeau - Election Poster Pierre Elliot Trudeau Election Poster collected in 1984.
Pierre Trudeau Election Poster
Pierre Elliot Trudeau - Memorial This program was obtained from the state funeral held at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal on October 3, 2000. The death of Pierre Trudeau brought to a finale the life of one of Canada’s most known politicians.
Pierre Trudeau Memorial Program (psalm and reading)
Joe Clark Election Poster
Joe Clark Election Poster
John Turner Election Poster This signed John Turner poster is from the 1988 election.
John Turner Election Poster
Brian Mulroney - Election Poster This is a signed Brian Mulroney election poster from the 1984 election. 
Brian Mulroney Election Poster

Post Cold War

Kim Campbell In the Barry Wilson Collection there are a number of items from Kim Campbell.  There is a Kim Campbell signature from 2004 as well as a campaign poster.
Kim Campbell Note
Jean Chretien In the Jean Chretien Collection contains a framed and signed Leadership race poster from 1990. There is also an election button as part of the collection.
Jean Chrétien Button
Paul Martin correspondence In the Barry Wilson Collection there is a Paul Martin correspondence signed from 1995. Paul Martin correspondence
Paul Martin Poster In the Barry Wilson Collection there is a Paul Martin election poster signed from 2003.
Paul Martin Election Poster
Stephen Harper This poster is signed by Stephen Harper and is the last item that Barry Wilson obtained as part of his collection. The Harper poster dates from the 2006 election campaign.
Stephen Harper Election Poster


1892 Conservative Membership Poster 1892 Conservative Membership Poster gathered by Barry Wilson. 1892 Conservative Membership Poster
1895 Federal Elections This pamphlet was published in 1894 and but was actually distributed to the Liberal Party of Canada in 1895. It contains the Liberal election platform for that year. Federal Elections: Issues of the Campaign, 1895
2003 Liberal Leadership Convention This is the official program for the November, 2003 Liberal Leadership Convention head in Toronto, Ontario.  Paul Martin would win the Liberal Leadership during the course of the Convention and succeed Jean Chretien as leader of the Liberal Party. Liberal Leadership Convention Program, 2003
Button Collection There are a number of political buttons contained within the Barry Wilson Collection. The Tribute Trudeau button dated 1984 was distributed to recognize Pierre Trudeau’s political retirement in 1984. Also represented is a Jean Chretien, Liberal button, a Sir John A. Macdonald button and Senior Citizens against Mulroney (SCAM) button. Scam button
First Among Equals: The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and Politics: Website Launch at Library-Archives Canada: 1994 This photograph was taken in 1994 at the Library and Archives of Canada launching of the website: First Among Equals: The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and Politics. Over several years Barry Wilson managed to acquire all of the signatures of the represented Prime Ministers, with Trudeau being the last and most difficult to obtain.
"First Among Equals" October 24, 1994 (CP Photo - Stf. Tom Hanson)
John Bracken John Bracken Election Poster gathered by Barry Wilson. "Servicemen Around Bracken" Poster
Louis Riel MP Story Louis Riel Framed Newsprint Account gathered by Barry Wilson. Time Period:  Confederation - World War 1 Time Line:  1874 Type of Object(s):  Framed Newsprint Account Political Party:  N/A Signed Item:  No Louis Riel article
Union Jack This Union Jack was taken from a New Brunswick Schoolhouse during its closure in the late 1800’s. This flag has the unique 19th century design, which has since been altered. 19th century Union Jack


History of the Rebellion in Wexford Prime Minister Mackenzie Bowell was the owner of the newspaper The Belleville Intelligencer and publisher via the Intelligencer Office.
History of the Rebellion title page
The Life and Times of the Right Honorable Sir John A. MacDonald This book is the first biography written of Canada’s first Prime Minister and is signed by the author J.S. Collins. This volume was published in 1883 by the Rose Publishing Company, Toronto. 
Cover of first biography of John A. MacDonald
Rules, Orders & Forms of Proceeding of the House of Commons This book was printed by J.B. Taylor in 1873 and is a first edition for the Canadian House of Commons. The book is comprised of 47 pages, as opposed to the contemporary Rules which are comprised of multiple volumes.
Cover of Rules, Orders & Forms of Proceeding of the House of Commons
The Greatest Englishman of History An address delivered by the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen. This is a signed copy of a speech delivered by Pri
Cover of The Greatest Englishman of History