BEHIND THE SCENES
Photo: Allen Gower
In his will, Diefenbaker asked that all of his personal effects and many of his papers be given to the University of Saskatchewan. As a result, the Diefenbaker Centre has most of his personal stuff, while the official papers are split between
the Diefenbaker Centre in Saskatoon and the National Archives in Ottawa. Anyone who's interested in the archive material
can sift through it and study all of the stuff.
As the museum guidebook points out: "A politician who holds elected office for forty years will accumulate many papers and photographs; when that man has been leader of his party and prime minister, the accumulation of material is awesome."
Included in the papers are anything that Diefenbaker ever wrote: speeches, notes, diaries, letters, articles, his legal papers, etc...
According to the Diefenbaker Centre, they have at least three million pages of documents from Diefenbaker. On top of that, there are thousands and thousands of pictures, news clippings, audio and video clips, and books.
It's typical of every Prime Minister to donate his personal effects to the National Archives, or to a public museum as Diefenbaker did. What's interesting about Diefenbaker's belongings is that he was a bit of a collector himself.
For example, the Diefenbaker Centre Archives hold the wealth of information Diefenbaker had collected on Sir John A. MacDonaldDief almost had a complete Sir John archive of his own!
Behind the scenes, the museum houses personal effects that they don't have room for on display. As you can see
in the pictures down the left, many of Diefenbaker's clothing, dishes, plates, and collectables are housed in the museum.
If you get to visit the museum, you can probably ask the staff to see some of this stuff if you're really interested. For the most part, it's not on display simply because there isn't enough room.
And the archives continue to grow as well: the museum is constantly expanding its collection, especially the video and audio parts. And of course, the storage area is protected by state-of-the-art conservation and security devices.
CONTINUE THE TOUR:
Visit the Diefenbaker Gravesite, the Diefenbaker Home, and other historic sites around Saskatoon.
INSIDE THE MUSEUM:
See some of the exhibits at the museum, including a recreation of the Prime Minister's Office.