Fonds 1670 - Herbert Lench Pottle fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1670


Herbert Lench Pottle fonds


  • 1894-2002 [predominant 1932-1940] (Creation)

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Extent and medium

0.58 m of textual and graphic records and publications (2 boxes)

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Herbert Lench Pottle was born on 17 February 1907 at Flatrock in the Carbonear District of Newfoundland. He was the fifteenth child of a fishing family that was descended from Thomas Pottle, who introduced Methodism to the north shore of Conception Bay. His was a strict Methodist home, with few books.

He received his primary and secondary education in Newfoundland schools, then went to Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick for his Bachelor of Arts degree, which he received in 1932. He then entered the University of Toronto to study psychology, receiving his Master of Arts in 1934 and his PhD (in psychology and education) in 1937. He had a sessional appointment as class assistant in the Department of Psychology at $400 per annum from 1934 to 1937. During the 1935-1936 academic year he was paid an extra $174 for Extension work; this sum was increased to $200 the following year.
In August of 1937 he married Muriel Ethel Moran at Smithfield, Ontario. He had recently been appointed Clinical Psychologist for the Infants’ Home and Infirmary in Toronto, a position he held for a year before being asked to return to Newfoundland as executive officer in the Department of Education in St. John’s, a position he held until 1944. From 1944 to 1947 he was Director of Child Welfare for Newfoundland and Judge of the first St. John’s Juvenile Court. For the following two years he served as Commissioner for Home Affairs and Education for the Commission of Government of Newfoundland which ran the Dominion from 1934 to 1949. He was one of the six men instrumental in bringing Newfoundland into Confederation with Canada.

Dr. Pottle represented the electoral district of Carbonear-Bay de Verde from 1949 until 1956, and was the first Minister of Public Welfare for the Province of Newfoundland. H resigned his position on a matter of principle in 1955; he disagreed with the Smallwood government’s policy on economic development. Later that year he left the province to become Secretary of the new Board of Information and Stewardship of the United Church of Canada, with responsibility for communications and education-in-mission services. In 1961-1962 he went on leave to serve as social welfare advisor to the government of Libya. In 1963 he resigned from the United Church to become Principal Research Officer (International Welfare and Special Projects) for the Department of National Health and Welfare in Ottawa. In 1967 he served as Rapporteur for the
Expert Working Group of the United Nation’s Organization and Administration of Social Welfare Services in Geneva. He retired in 1972.

In addition to his busy professional activities, Dr. Pottle volunteered with a number of international non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations Association in Canada, of which he was named an Honorary Life Member, and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. He served on the Board of Governors of Memorial University College in St. John’s, and as Regent of Mount Allison University. In 1984 that University honoured him with the Charles Frederick Allison Award “for outstanding service” to the University. In 1992 it awarded him a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa).

Dr. Pottle was also the author of four books: Canadian Soundings (1970), a book of poetry; Dawn without Light (1979), a social and political commentary on the Smallwood era; Fun on the Rock (1983), a study of Newfoundland humour; and From the Nart Shore, his autobiography.

He died in Ottawa on 21 September 2002. He was predeceased by his infant son, Herbert Franklin, and his wife (1990). Dr. Pottle is survived by two daughters, Helen Louise Wesanko and Kathryn Elaine Ross, and four grandchildren.

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Scope and content

Correspondence, essays, theses, and photographs documenting Herbert Pottle's graduate studies in psychology at the University of Toronto under Professor E. A. Bott, with some correspondence and press coverage of Pottle's subsequent activities.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The files in this fonds are arranged by activity: personal and biographical; correspondence; education at the University of Toronto; photographs and prints; and a pamphlet about the 19th century Methodist educator, Egerton Ryerson. A file listing is attached.

The material is self-explanatory, for the most part. Dr. Pottle may have been an examiner of Margaret LeBas’ thesis; he was working at the Infants’ Home and Infirmary at the time. The Japanese print, “Dairi-Sama”, requires a little more explanation. The Dairi-Sama dolls represent the Emperor and Empress of Japan and were a feature of children’s festivals throughout the year. Kimiko Ise, presumably a friend of Dr. Pottle, provided a detailed interpretation of this print that reflected the latter’s interest in childhood education.

"Sketch of the Reverend Doctor Ryerson," by John George Hodgins, has been removed to UTARMS’ Print Room.

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