The father-in-law of Gwendolen Marjorie Howard's older half-brother, Jared, was Donald Alexander Smith, the first Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal. Born in Scotland in 1820, Smith immigrated to Canada in 1838 to begin work in the fur trade with the Hudson's Bay Company. Working for the company at its Canadian outposts for nearly thirty years, Smith was made the company's Chief Commissioner (1870-1874) and Governor (1889-1914) after becoming the company’s principle shareholder. As a result of his corporate connections and personal investments, Smith was appointed to the board of the Bank of Montreal in 1872, eventually becoming bank President in 1887. Also politically active in Canada, Smith was elected to the Manitoba legislature in 1870, as well as to the federal parliament in 1871. Resigning his provincial seat in 1873, he was eventually defeated federally in 1880. Elected again to Ottawa in 1887 as the representative for Montreal West, Smith was eventually appointed High Commissioner in 1896 by Sir Charles Tupper. He retained this position until his death in 1914.

During the late 19th century until his death, Lord Strathcona maintained four residences in Britain, three of which Gwendolen Marjorie Howard visited during her British vacations in the first decade of the twentieth century. Images taken at all three homes can be found in the collection. North of London he maintained Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, a property he had leased from Lord Lytton since 1899. He owned a large estate on the Scottish mainland at Glencoe, which he had acquired in 1894, two years before being appointed High Commissioner. Finally, in 1904 he purchased the island of Colonsay, including its estate house, in the Inner Hebrides. According to information supplied by Marjorie’s son, Palmer Futcher, it was at Colonsay that she was proposed to by Thomas Futcher in 1909.

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