Kenneth R. Wilson

Fonds number:
Title: Kenneth R. Wilson
Dates of Material:
1791, 1908-1989, 1999-2000
13 cm of textual material
18 photographs
1 pen and ink drawing
1 scrapbook (51 photographs)
1 scrapbook (2 photographs)
1 video cassette
Biographical sketch

Kenneth Ramsay Wilson was born in Barnbrough, Yorkshire, England to Norman Wilson, a railway engineer and Kate Abbey. The family moved to Canada in 1909 and initially settled in Toronto and then later settled in Brantford, where Ken attended high school. After taking a year off, Ken entered Victoria College in 1922, where he enrolled in Commerce and Finance. He lived in the Burwash Hall residence and participated in many extra-curricular activities including the Debating Society, student government, and the Hart House theatre. In his third year, he met Ruth Duggan of Brampton and the couple married in June of 1929, a year after Ruth graduated from Victoria College. He graduated in 1926 with a Bachelor of Commerce.

After graduating, Ken took a job as a reporter with the Financial Post in Toronto, later moving to Montreal and then a year later returning to Toronto where he worked in the Financial Post's head office for the next 10 years. After some health issues, Ken moved his family, now including a daughter, Nora, born in 1933 and a son, David, born in 1936 to Ottawa in 1941. Ken took on the role as Maclean Hunter Publishing Company's representative and the Financial Post's Ottawa editor. Ken found the work in Ottawa extremely satisfying and quickly established himself in the scene, becoming a confidante of politicians, cabinet ministers, civil servants and diplomats.

In 1942, the Post sent him to England to report on the Canadian war effort. He traveled on a troop ship, dodging bombs and submarines and in London, he met with Winston Churchill and other government officials.  At the end of the war, he was sent to cover the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) meetings in Switzerland and traveled through Europe. He also covered many other important events including the Bretton Woods Convention. During his years as Ottawa editor of the Financial Post, Ken's reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and trusted journalists in Canada grew steadily and he was often asked to speak at various events. He was also very much involved in the community in Ottawa. He attended church regularly and served on church committees, was a Boy Scout leader, a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, the Press Club, and the Rideau Club. 

In 1952, Kenneth R. Wilson's life was tragically cut short when the plane carrying him to New York crashed in heavy fog. He was 48 at the time of his death. His funeral was held at the church he attended weekly and was attended by over 200 mourners, including representatives from governments and the civil service. 

After his death, family and colleagues established the KRW Memorial Fund, spearheaded by Floyd Chalmers and other key figures at Maclean Hunter. KRW awards are given out yearly in the field of journalism. 

Scope and content

Fonds consists of speeches and addresses given by Kenneth R. Wilson at events and symposiums including the Citizen's Forum, World Trade Forum and the National Forum (broadcast on CBC), and to groups including the Rotary Club, the Canadian Club of Toronto, the Empire Club of Canada, and the Victoria College Reunion, etc. Also contains articles written by and about him, and reports on assignments that he was on. 

Fonds also includes letters of condolence to his wife Ruth after Kenneth's death in 1952 and letters of condolence addressed to Floyd S. Chalmers, the Executive Vice-President of Maclean Hunter Publishing Company, who was the boss of Kenneth R. Wilson. Contains obituaries, published tributes and the tribute given at his memorial service.  Also includes records related to his estate.

Fonds contains several photographs of Kenneth R. Wilson, including a formal portrait by Yousuf Karsh. There is also a short documentary film about Wilson's life and a scrapbook assembled by him that covers his early school days until his work in England on the Canadian War effort (

The fonds also contains a scrapbook assembled by Kenneth R. Wilson's daughter, Nora Ruth Wilson. This scrapbook mainly consists of images cut out of magazines and newspapers as well as articles related to the end of the war (WWII).

Fonds also contains a notebook belonging to Kenneth R. Wilson's great-grandfather, James Wilson, and a video cassette tape of a tribute to Wilson.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.  

Immediate source of acquisition

Fonds was acquired in 2016 from Kenneth R. Wilson's daughter, Nora Wilson.

Accession 2017.02 was donated in 2017 by Nora Wilson.

Accession 2023.11 was donated in 2023 by Nora Wilson.

Finding aids

Box/file list available. Photographs are described in the photo database.


No further accruals are anticipated.   

Access points

Wilson, Kenneth Ramsay, 19031952  

Access restrictions

The original scrapbook is currently restricted for conservation reasons but has been scanned and is available online ( The file related to his estate is also restricted in keeping with relevant privacy legislation. Please contact the Chief Librarian or Archivist for information on access.

Related material

See the Victoria University Archives ephemera collection and the photograph collection: