The Right Honourable
William Lyon
Mackenzie King

1921-1926, 1926-1930, 1935-1948
Liberal

"It is what we prevent, rather than what we do that counts most in Government." Mackenzie King, August 26 1936


Private Life

Did You Know?

King had an odd hobby. He gathered stones from pre-confederation buildings being demolished in Ottawa and rebuilt them at Kingsmere, his country home in the Gatineau Hills. He erected many battered 'ruins' which he felt had a 'middle-ages' look.

  • Born: December 17, 1874, Berlin (later renamed Kitchener), Ontario.
    • (King's maternal grandfather was William Lyon Mackenzie, who lead the Rebellion in Upper Canada, 1837.)
  • Education:
    • University of Toronto: B.A., 1895; LL.B., 1896; MA, 1896.
    • University of Chicago, 1896-1897.
    • Harvard University: MA Political Economy, 1898; PhD, 1909
  • Marriage: Bachelor.
  • Canada's first Deputy of Labour and editor of the Labour Gazette, 1900-1908.
  • Labour Consultant for the Rockerfeller Foundation, 1914-1918.
  • Author.
  • Died: July 22, 1950, Kingsmere, Québec, of pneumonia. Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario.

Political Career

Did You Know?

King firmly believed in the power of Crystal Balls and rarely made a serious decision without first consulting his 'psychic'. It was only after his diaries were examined following his death that King's interest in the occult was discovered.

  • Constituencies: Waterloo North, Ontario, 1908-1911. Prince, Prince Edward Island, 1919-1921. York North, Ontario, 1921-1925. Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, 1926-1945. Glengarry, Ontario, 1945-1949.
  • The Industrial Dispute Investigation Act, 1907.
  • Appointed Minister of Labour by PM Laurier, 1909-1911.
  • Leader of the Opposition, 1919-1921, 1926.
  • Liberal Party Leader, 1919-1948. (Canada's first party leadership convention.)
    • Liberal party was still divided between the Unionist government and the Opposition.
    • King's skills as a conciliator (resulting from Minister of Labour appointment) allowed him to rebuild and re-unite the Liberal Party.
  • Prime Minister, 1921-1926.
    • Major issue was tariffs and freight rates. King lowered them, but not enough for the prairie farmers who gave their support to the new Progressive party (formed specifically to represent western farmers interests.)
    • Following the election in 1925, King needed the support of the prairie farmers to maintain his majority government and lost a vote of confidence in 1926.
    • Governor General Viscount Byng refused King's request to dissolve parliament and call for a new election. Instead, Byng called upon Opposition leader Arthur Meighen to form a government. (see Meighen)
    • Four days later, King called for a vote, questioning the constitutional right of Meighen to govern. The Conservatives lost the vote and Byng had no choice but to dissolve parliament and call a new election.
  • Minister of External Affairs, 1921-1930, 1935-1946.
  • Re-elected Prime Minister, 1926-1930.
    • Used the post-WWI prosperity to rebuild the nation and reduce the war debt.
    • Created the Old Age Pension, 1926.
    • Appointed first female senator (Cairine Wilson), 1930.
  • Leader of the Opposition, 1930-1935.
    • Despite losing the election, it was actually to the Liberal's benefit. The worst years of the depression were blamed on the Conservatives and the Liberals were reinstated in 1935.
  • Prime Minister throughout World War II, 1939-1945.
    • Canada contributed food, finances, the 'British Commonwealth Air Training Plan', ships and aircraft, tanks, and a million plus troops to the Allies.
    • King's close friendships with U.S. President F. D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a cornerstone of the Allied movement.
    • King was also able to recognize the varied talents of his party member and filled his Cabinet with the most capable men available. This allowed him to delegate authority to them to carry out tasks which would allow King to concern himself with more vital issues.
    • The Natural Resources Mobilization Act, 1940.
    • Unemployment Insurance, 1940.
    • National Plebiscite on Conscription (national 'vote'), 1942.
    • Oversaw construction of the Alaska Highway, 1942-1943.
    • Family Allowances Act, 1944.
  • King retired from politics. His successor, Louis St. Laurent, won the next election, keeping the Liberals in power for 8 more years.
  • King died less than 2 years after his retirement.

*(Progressive) Conservative *Liberal *Unionist/Conservative

* Macdonald * Mackenzie * Abbott * Thompson * Bowell
* Tupper * Laurier * Borden * Meighen * King
* Bennett * St. Laurent * Diefenbaker * Pearson * Trudeau
* Clark * Turner * Mulroney * Campbell * Chrétien

Canadiana