Trent University Library & Archives continues to offer electronic collections and virtual services. As part of the University’s limited and reduced campus presence, Bata Library and the Durham GTA Campus Library & Learning Centre are closed and physical collections are unavailable. Virtual services and support are available by contacting Check for updates regularly on our COVID-19 Alert Page.

Curbside Pickup for Faculty & Graduate Students is available starting June 23rd.

Finding Aid:

Search the Archives

Fonds Level Description

Accession Number: 75-002


Robert George Barclay fonds. -- 1932-1961. -- 17 cm of textual records. -- ca. 65 photographs.

Biography / History

Robert George Barclay was the Chief Insurance Officer of the Unemployment Insurance Commission from its inception in 1941 until his retirement in 1956.

Custodial History

This fonds was in the custody of Kathleen R. (Barclay) Bowley before it was donated to the Trent University Archives.

Scope and Content

This fonds consists of the working papers of R.G. Barclay including correspondence, notes and drafts relating to a history of unemployment insurance which was written by Barclay; correspondence, memoranda, press clippings regarding guaranteed annual wage plans and health insurance; correspondence and clippings regarding pensions; miscellaneous correspondence and papers; and photographs of Unemployment Insurance Commission staff and landscapes. The fonds also includes correspondence, memoranda, memorabilia and photographs regarding the "53 Varieties".


Title based on the creator of the fonds.

The fonds was donated by Kathleen R. Bowley of Peterborough, Ontario.

The fonds has been arranged into two series: Series A - Working Papers, and Series B - "Varieties".

Restrictions: N

Finding aids: Y

Finding Aid

Series A - Working Papers

Box 1

Folder 1: Research - history of Unemployment Insurance; correspondence, rough notes, drafts, memoranda, miscellaneous papers and clippings relating to Barclay's research for a history of unemployment insurance (1932-61)

1-2. correspondence, letters received 3 Feb 1961 - 7 Feb 1961 re: materials required for research

3-7. correspondence, copies of letters sent 3 Jan 1961, 22 Feb 1961 by R.G.B. from Toronto, re: materials for research

8-25. rough notes from various sources re: history of UI, starting with early Poor Relief in England through 19th and early 20th century developments to House of Commons and Senate debates re: UI in the 1920's and 1930's (up to 1940) notes re: labour force 1952-59

26-31. rough drafts, both handwritten and typed, of parts of history

32. copy of report by R.G.B. on Unemployment Insurance for the Fishing Industry in Canada dated 9 Sept 1955 33-34 manuscripts by R.G.B.: The UIC in Embryo; and draft of Unemployment Insurance in Canada 55p.

35-36. memoranda re: national Insurance in Great Britain and proceedings of a committee on Bill 328

37-48. miscellaneous papers; House of Commons records re: Unemployment Continuance Act 11/3/32 and Senate records re: unemployment insurance 26/3/35; photocopies; newspaper clippings re: various aspects of Unemployment Insurance; 30 Jan 1935; 2/9/55 to 27/1/61; deal with provisions of 1935 bill, problem of benefits being collected by those not genuinely unemployed etc.

Folder 2: correspondence, briefs, memoranda, 1950-55, re: guaranteed annual wage plans

49-57. correspondence; copies of letters sent by R.G.B. 16 Sept 1955 to Oct 25 1955 to managers of various National Employment Offices re: guaranteed annual wage plans of companies in their districts

58. correspondence and attached papers; copies of letters sent and letters received 17 may 1950 - 2 Sept 1955 re: guaranteed annual wage plans of various companies and the effects of such plans on Unemployment Insurance; paper re: Unemployment Insurance and the Guaranteed Annual Wage (2/2/55 Ottawa); summaries of Guaranteed Annual Wage plans; extracts from books by A.D.H. Kaplan and Wm. A. Berridge and Cedric Wolfe re: guaranteed wage

59. 20/6/55 letter from Pat. Conroy, Labour attache, Canadian Embassy to the Minister of Labour, Ottawa re: U.A.W. agreement with Ford and General Motors; copy of article re: guaranteed annual wage limitation from Business Week 18/6/55

60. 7/9/55 letter from Walter E. Diffett, Director Economics and Research Branch, Department of Labour to R,G,B, and attached paper re: layoff benefit plans at Ford and General Motors in the U.S.

61-62. memoranda from Walter Duffett to R.G.B. 15 and 16 Sept 1955 re: layoff benefits and supplemental unemployment benefits; copy of memo attached to #61; 2 copies of summary of agreement between United Steelworkers of America and Continental Can Company attached to # 62

63-73. personal memoranda re: guaranteed annual wage; includes excerpts from various magazines June-Aug 1955 and memos re: guaranteed annual wage plans of certain companies; memo re: Pension Plans

74-81. briefs outlining guaranteed annual wage and other employee benefit plans for various companies including Continental Can, Ford, Rubberset Co., and Pert Hosiery Ltd; report of Interstate Conference Committee 1954-55 on Guaranteed Annual Wage Summaries of such plans with comments

Folder 3: miscellaneous papers re: guaranteed annual wages; correspondence, briefs, notes, clippings, 1952-56, re health insurance, correspondence and clippings, 1959-61, re: pensions

82. rough notes re: Ford guaranteed annual wage plan, 3 p.

83-84. semi-annual returns of hirings and separations Sept 1954 - Aug 1955

85-88. copies of magazine articles from the Montreal Star re: guaranteed annual wage and layoff benefits

89-101. newspaper clippings 30 April 1955 to Nov 1955 re: problem created by guaranteed annual wage and possible effects of guaranteed annual wage plans

102. copy of "Business Week" 9 April 1955 re: what guaranteed annual wage means to business iii) Health Insurance

103-104. correspondence, copies of letters sent 16/1/55 to George C. Gathercole and 22/10/56 to C. Frank Moore re: R.G.B.'s experience in social legislation and his ideas regarding health insurance

105. digest of article by William Kinmond in Globe and Mail 25/10/55 re: proposed health insurance for Ontario accompanied by clipping of article; copy of report on "Health and Sickness Insurance" outlying benefits in various countries as well as the Canadian Plan

106. brief re: federal assistance for provincial health insurance plans, 2p

107-113. notes re: health insurance, classes of insured, hospital services commission

114. copy of digest of Kinmond article

115-117. excerpts from House of Commons records re: federal- provincial co-operation as regards health insurance 23/1/56 -13/6/56

118-130. newspaper clippings re: aspects of health insurance including rising costs, voluntary health insurance, national hospital insurance, nd, 9/8/52-19/10/56

131. copy of "Labour Research" June-July 1956, discussing health insurance

132-133. correspondence, letters received from Rudy ____, Government Annuities Branch, 24/2/61 and R.G.B.'s reply, 9/3/61 re: portable pensions

134. article from Maclean's Magazine 21/11/59 by H. Scott Gordon re: protecting savings against inflation

135-141. newspaper clippings re: portable pensions, problem posed by inflation, sliding pensions in Germany, 21-26 June 1961

142-143. newspaper clippings re: University of Toronto School of Social Work, July 1960

Folder 4: miscellaneous correspondence, notes, briefs, memoranda, clippings, 1935-60

144-150. correspondence, letters received and copies of letters sent 10/2/55 - 31/12/60; letter from R.G.B. to Chief Actuary Richard Humphreys re: revision of Unemployment Insurance Act and reply; letters from Walter E. Duffett re: working conditions in Canadian manufacturing industries; letter re: superannuated civil servants; letter from A. MacNamara re: report of Unemployment Insurance Advisory Committee, R.G.B.'s reply, with memorandum, and reply from MacNamara

151. 8/8/61 letter to R.G.B. Toronto, from Jack H___, Privy Council Office re: hospitals and charitable institutions in connection with R.G.B.'s research

152-158. various papers relating to Unemployment Insurance including papers used in school for inspectors 1941 re: the local office and Unemployment Insurance, and the employer and Unemployment Insurance; welfare implications of Unemployment Insurance (1942) by Eric Strangroom; Unemployment Insurance and Post-Discharge re- establishment, 28/11/44, by R.G.B.; comparison of the British and Canadian Unemployment Insurance schemes; and an actuarial report on proposed amendments 1954, with notations by R.G.B

159. notes taken from report of evidence adducted before the Senate Committee on Banking and Commerce re: Bill 8 as passed by House of Commons 12/3/35 (refer to Government Documents for material from which notes were taken)

160. personal memoranda; quotations from Samuel Gompers, Winston Churchill and others; homilies; excerpts from Beveridge Report; notes on management today

162. manuscript "Unemployment Insurance in Canada" by R.G. Barclay; cards with notes attached

163-166. memoranda; memo from Frederick H. Ecker, President, Metropolitan Life re: making an insurance plan scientifically and fundamentally sound; summary of an address by Barclay re: Canada's progress in social security; extract from a collective agreement between Dupuis Freres and C.T.C.C.; memo re: federal participation in health insurance plan

167-171. reprints and clippings from magazine re: legislation for unemployment insurance, position of older workers, progress of British Labour Movement; table re: maximum hours of work and minimum wages; July 1940-Oct 1955

172-179. newspaper clippings re: aspects of Unemployment Insurance, health insurance; Gallup Poll re: public understanding of Unemployment Insurance Plan (1944)

180. brief "Proposals for the Revision of the Unemployment Insurance Act, Sept 1954", in loose leaf binder, with attached page noting acceptance or rejection of some of the proposals

181. menu from "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese", Fleet Street, London Volume 2

Box 2

Folder 1: photographs of Unemployment Insurance Commission staff; group photographs, miscellaneous photographs of people and landscapes

182. album containing group photographs of Unemployment Insurance Commission staff, conference

183-187. group photographs, including first school of staff instruction, 1941

188-195. miscellaneous photographs of people

196-202. miscellaneous photographs, mainly landscapes

203-206. portraits, including autographed portrait of Milton F. Gregg (Minister of Labour, 1955) dates 12/12/50 

Series B - "Varieties"

Folder 2: correspondence, memoranda, memorabilia and photographs relating to the "'53 Varieties"

1-10. correspondence re: Varieties 4/3/52; 18/2/53-25/5/53 re: rental of auditorium notes of appreciation for a good show, financial considerations

11-14. memoranda re: Buckely Brook Hat Company and Malabar Ltd (costumes); re-organization of Unemployment Insurance Commission Choir; returns from tickets and statement 21/3/52; tariff rate from tickets and statement 21/3/52 tariff rate for concerts and rentals

15-17. memorabilia; tickets to the '53 Varieties; programme for 1952 Varieties; programme for the '53 Vanities

18-22. song sheets including personalized version of "Polly- Wolly-Doodle"

23-25. music for various songs including "Newfoundland" and "Phil the Fluters' Ball"

26. book of Spirituals for '53 Varieties

27. script for part of '53 Varieties entitled "Brethren and Sistern" telling how the Queen's servants are chosen

28-30. lists of cast, crew and choir, rough drafts of programme

31-32. photographs of cast and choir; '53 Varieties

33. cartoon