I had asked no help from any campaign fund and had received none.
In the early fall of the year 1931, just as the leaves were beginning to turn, my wife died. The manner of her taking was tragic, for she had not been ill, just a little out of sorts. It was a preventative operation, taken on the advice of our family doctor, whom we trusted implicitly and whose advice we dared not ignore. The operation was not dangerous, he told us. But something went wrong, some unanticipated surgical development. After a week of cruel anxiety and false hopes, no less cruel, she died.
She had been my childhood sweetheart, my youthful love, through twenty-six years of happy married life my partner and comrade in all my ups and downs. Ella Drury was too great to be unduly built up by success, or to be cast down by failure. She met her fellow men with level glance, neither looking up to the great nor down to the humble. When she was called on to take her place as the wife of the Premier of the province, she did so with grace and dignity and without a trace of ostentation. Her charm lay in her complete sincerity, her absolute honesty. She was just – herself – and that was enough. She created a home to which, no matter what my difficulties and troubles outside might be, I could always come and find a haven, serene and safe. The help she gave me, of which the public of course knew nothing, was invaluable. I always consulted her before making any important speech, and I found her advice was invariably good.
I had not lived an easy or untroubled life. At no small sacrifice, both to my wife and myself. I had given years of my life to the farm movement, with no recompense except the knowledge that I was doing my part in a worthy cause. The government I had headed, after four years in power and a creditable record, was defeated. I had suffered defeat in four federal elections in the cause of free trade against protectionism. I had asked no help from any campaign fund and had received none. I was now financially embarrassed and at fifty-three years of age was worse off than when I began. None of these things had caused me to lose my courage. But this, the death of my wife was different. It struck at the very roots of my life. Without her I could not see how I could go on.
But I had to go on. My family needed me. Two of my three sons wanted to farm, and were deeply attached to the homestead which had been in the family without a break since 1819. It would have broken their hearts to lose it…I myself had no regular employment and no source of income except the farm, from which during the Depression very little could be expected. I took out a life insurance policy, sufficient in the event of my death to meet my obligations, though at my age the premium was ruinously high. And so I went on.
– Farmer Premier: The Memoirs of E.C. Drury, E. C. Drury, McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1966, p. 181-2.