Athlone Crescent

Athlone Crescent is named after the Earl of Athlone, Governor General

The Earl of Athone and Her Highness Princess Alice before leaving Canada.

The Earl of Athlone

He was born Prince Alexander of Teck on April 14, 1874. He was named Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George (Teck) Cambridge. He became Major General Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone. He was also a British Army commander and as a major general served as the Governor General of South Africa and as the Governor General of Canada (from 1940 to 1946).

He hosted the Québec Conferences at La Citadelle in 1943 and 1944, where Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt met to decide Allied strategy for victory over Germany and Japan. A maternal uncle of King George VI, Athlone was the last close relative of the monarch to serve as Governor General of Canada.

He had first been considered for the that position in 1914. However, the proposed appointment was unpopular in Canada he was viewed as a German prince with few qualifications for the role. The outbreak of the First World War resulted in the Duke of Connaught’s term as Governor General being extended and Athlone serving on the western front.

In 1939, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King advised King George VI during his tour of Canada to appoint Athlone as the next Governor General.

Athlone announced, “We feel we shall love Canada and hope to be worthy of the great privileges and the opportunity which lie before us.” Athlone and his wife, Alice, arrived in Halifax on June 20, 1940, after a circuitous journey by steamer across the Atlantic to avoid German U-boats. Athlone was installed as Governor General the next day in Ottawa.

Their daughter, Lady May, and her three children, Richard, Elizabeth and Anne Abel-Smith, also resided at Rideau Hall, where Alice observed that her grandchildren acquired the “self-reliance" natural to Canadian children.”

Athlone and Alice travelled extensively across Canada, encouraging the war effort by meeting with military personnel and visiting munitions factories. They travelled on the royal train that had been used during the 1939 royal tour by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, which had been the first tour of Canada by a reigning monarch.

Athlone gave numerous speeches with inspiring sentiments such as “. . . let us prove to mankind, as we are proving every day, that we have never been so great as in this hour of trial.” During one of his tours, he was made Chief Rainbow of the Ojibway. The viceregal couple also encouraged Canadian culture, sponsoring concerts and theatrical performances. In addition, Athlone created the Athlone-Vanier Engineering Fellowship at the Engineering Institute of Canada, which recognizes academic excellence, leadership and management potential.

When Athlone’s term as Governor General ended in 1946, Mackenzie King stated that he had “strengthened the country’s attachment to the Crown.” The refuge the Athlones provided for the Dutch royal family also strengthened the relationship between Canada and the Netherlands and the Québec Conferences contributed to the Allied victory in the Second World War. Athlone was 82 when he died on Jan. 16, 1957, in London, England. Source: Canadian Encyclopedia