The Right Honourable
Arthur Meighen

1920-1921 (Unionist)
1926-1926 (Conservative)

"One great secret of successful debate: when you have a man under your hammer, never be tempted into doubtful ground and give him a chance to digress. How often I witnessed men in the House who had a case, and who really had their opponents cornered, doddle off into other ground and give the enemy a chance to change the subject and come out not too badly worsted." Arthur Meighen, 1943

Private Life
  • Born: June 16, 1874, Anderson, Ontario.
  • Education: at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.
    • BA in Mathematics, 1896.
    • Teacher in Caledonia, Ontario, 1897-1898.
  • Called to the Manitoba Bar in 1903.
  • Marriage: Isabel J. Cox (1882-1985) in 1904.
    • Two sons and one daughter
  • Businessman
  • Author
  • Died: August 5, 1960, Toronto, Ontario, of heart failure. Buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, St. Mary's Ontario.

Political Career

Did You Know?

A controversial statue of Arther Meighen, which had been stored in a warehouse in Ottawa following its completion in 1968, was finally erected in 1987 in the town of St. Mary's, Ontario. Described by former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker as a cross between Ichabod Crane and Daddy Long Legs, the statue was condemned by Meighen's family. However, following its ultimate erection, the statue has been well received by the townfolk.

  • Conservative Party Leader, 1908-1921, 1925-1926.
  • Solicitor General, 1913-1917.
  • Secretary of State, 1917.
  • Minister of the Interior and Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, 1917-1920.
    • Instrumental in drafting the Military Service Act (conscription) and the Wartime Elections Act.
    • Nationalized the railways and created the Canadian National Railroad (CNR) in 1919.
  • Featured prominently in ending the Winnipeg General Strike, 1919 (acting Minister of Justice).
  • Minister of Mines, 1919-1920.
  • Succeeded Borden as 'Unionist' Prime Minister, 1920, when Borden retired. (Unionist: see Borden)
  • Successfully argued against the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 1921.
  • Signed Trade Agreements with France and the West Indies, 1921.
  • Created the Armistice Day Act, 1921.
  • Lost the election of 1921 as a result of the high tariffs and conscription brought about by World War 1. Became Leader of the Opposition, 1921-1926.
    • Meighen worked at rebuilding the party and gained considerable support.
    • Won a majority 116 seats in the 1925 election, but the Liberals formed an alliance with the new Progressive party, giving them 129 seats and retained power.
    • Liberals were in trouble by June, 1926, and threatened by a vote of 'no confidence'. (see King). King asked Viscount Byng (Governor General) to dissolve parliament. Byng refused and King's government resigned. Byng then asked Meighen to form a new government, but 4 days later, the Conservatives lost a vote in the House of Commons and Meighen had no choice but to ask Viscount Byng to dissolve parliament and call an election. He resigned from the party the next year.
  • Appointed as Senator, 1932-1942.
  • Minister of External Affairs, 1920-1921, 1926.
  • President of the Privy Council, 1926.
  • Minister Without Portfolio, 1932-1935.
  • Resumed leadership of the Conservative party, 1941, but his efforts to gain a seat in the House of Commons during a by-election in 1942 failed.
  • Meighen was the undisputed debater and orator in Canada's history. With his knowledge of parliament and Canadian law, Meighen could annihilate his opponents with words. His logic was well thought out and tamper-proof. His 'way with words' could humble anyone into silence and submission. They were not enough to keep Meighen in power as Prime Minister. Meighen retired from politics in 1942.

*(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