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King, Carlyle (1907–88)

Carlyle King addressing University of Regina convocation, 1984.
University of Regina Archives and Special Collections 87-32-45

Carlyle King was born in Cooksville, Ontario, on November 25, 1907. He came to Saskatchewan in 1912, and since his father was a railway telegrapher and station agent, the family moved around the province. He received a BA (1926) from the University of Saskatchewan, with honours in English and History, and an MA (1927) and PhD (1931) from the University of Toronto. He taught in the English Department at the University of Saskatchewan from 1929 until 1977. He was one of the first proponents of Canadian Literature. He was head of the English Department (1949–64), dean of Academic Services (1967–71), then acting vice-president and in 1975 assistant to the president for Academic Services. He celebrated the University in three publications and wrote a history of research and scholarship at the University.

King’s second life was politics. He was elected to the provincial executive of the CCF in 1939. He ran against George Williams for leadership of the party at the 1940 convention and lost, but gained about a third of the vote. He was elected president of the party in 1945 and remained until 1960, meeting every second Sunday with T.C. Douglas. He ran a number of election campaigns and wrote CCF pamphlets including “What is Democratic Socialism?” King was also chair of the major pacifist organization in Canada, the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Carlyle King was also a force in the arts and in libraries. He was a member of the Saskatchewan Arts Board from its first year, 1947, until 1964. He was on the board of the Saskatoon Art Centre, and president from 1957 to 1959. In 1957, as part of the province’s Golden Jubilee, King edited an early collection of Saskatchewan writing, Saskatchewan Harvest. He was also active in music organizations but it was in libraries that he had his greatest influence. He was chair of the Library Advisory Council, set up by the Douglas government, for twenty years (1947–67). He was president of the Saskatchewan Library Association in 1955 and was chair for many years of the Library Legislation Committee of the Canadian Library Association. He was chair of the Saskatoon Public Library from 1958 to 1972. He received a Merit Award from the Canadian Library Trustees Association and in 1977 a branch Library in Saskatoon was named to honour his long service. King received an honorary degree from the University of Regina in 1984. He died on March 18, 1988.

Don Kerr

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Further Reading

Kerr, Donald C., and Stan Hanson. 1998. “Pacifism and the CCF at the Outbreak of World War II,” Prairie Forum (Fall): 211–43; King, Carlyle. 1981. “Recollections, the CCF in Saskatchewan.” Pp. 31–41 in Donald C. Kerr (ed.), Western Canadian Politics: The Radical Tradition. NeWest Institute; ——. n.d. “A Beginning in Politics: Saskatoon CCF, 1938–43,” Saskatchewan History 36: 102–14.
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