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The Right Honourable
 William Lyon Mackenzie King
 PC OM CMG PhD (Harv.) MA (Harv.) MA (Tor.) LLB (Osgoode) BA (Tor.)

In office
23 October 1935 – 15 November 1948
Monarch George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Governor General John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir, Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone
Preceded by Richard Bedford Bennett
Succeeded by Louis St. Laurent
In office
25 September 1926 – 6 August 1930
Governor General Freeman Freeman-Thomas, Marquess of Willingdon
Preceded by Arthur Meighen
Succeeded by Richard Bedford Bennett
In office
29 December 1921 – 29 June 1926
Governor General Julian Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy
Preceded by Arthur Meighen
Succeeded by Arthur Meighen

Born 17 December 1874(1874-12-17)
Berlin, Ontario
Died 22 July 1950 (aged 75)
Wright County, Quebec
Political party Liberal Party of Canada
Spouse(s) Single; Never married
Children None
Alma mater University of Toronto
Osgoode Hall Law School
University of Chicago
Harvard University
Profession Lawyer, Professor, Civil Servant, Journalist, Consultant, Politician
Religion Presbyterian (Spiritualist) [1]

William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG (17 December 1874 – 22 July 1950) was a Canadian lawyer, economist, university professor, consultant, civil servant, journalist, teacher, and politician. He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from 29 December 1921 to 28 June 1926; 25 September 1926 to 6 August 1930; and 23 October 1935 to 15 November 1948. With an accumulated total of over 21 years in office, he was the longest-serving Prime Minister in British Commonwealth history.[1] He is commonly known either by his full name or as Mackenzie King. Mackenzie was one of his given names, not part of his surname, but he was never publicly referred to as simply "William King". Friends and family called him by his nickname, "Rex", given for his quick temper, and ruthlessness. As a boy his motto was "Help those that cannot help themselves". He had a quick temper, but he was kind hearted and dreamed of one day helping to shape Canada for the better.

For a visual chronology of King's life, please see Life of William Lyon Mackenzie King at Wikimedia Commons.


Early life

King was born in Berlin, Ontario (now known as Kitchener) to John King and Isabella Grace Mackenzie. His maternal grandfather was William Lyon Mackenzie, first mayor of Toronto and leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837. His father was a lawyer, miner, later a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, and the family lived comfortably. King had three siblings: older sister Isabel "Bella" Christina Grace (1873–1915), younger sister Janet "Jennie" Lindsey (1876–1962) and younger brother Dougall Macdougall "Max" (1878–1922)[2]. He attended Berlin Central School (now Suddaby Public School) and Berlin High School (now Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School). In the early years of his life, his family would hire tutors to teach him politics, science, math, English and French; he was born into a wealthy family that had great influence.


King eventually earned five university degrees. He obtained two degrees from the University of Toronto: B.A. 1895, and M.A. 1897; he earned his law degree in 1896 from Osgoode Hall, which at that time was independent of the University of Toronto, although situated very close to it.[3] While attending the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall, he met nine of his future cabinet ministers during his time as prime minister, all of whom, like him, were members of the Kappa Alpha Society.[4] While at the University of Toronto, King also met Arthur Meighen, a future political rival; the two men did not get on especially well from the start. After studying at the University of Chicago, Mackenzie King proceeded to Harvard University, receiving an M.A. in political economy in 1898. In 1909 his request to Harvard to receive a PhD for a dissertation he had written nine years earlier, called "Sweating Systems and the Clothing Trade in the United States, England, and Germany,"[5] was granted.[6] He was the second Canadian Prime Minister to have earned a doctorate; Sir John Abbott was the first. King also taught economics at Harvard.[7]

Civil servant, Minister of Labour

King worked as a newspaper reporter for the Toronto Globe while studying at the University of Toronto. In 1909, he became Canada's first Deputy Minister of Labour, a civil service position.

In 1901, King's roommate and best friend, Henry Albert Harper, died heroically during a skating party thrown by the earl of Minto, Governor General of Canada. At the party, the young daughter of Andrew George Blair named Elizabeth 'Bessie' Blair, Minister of Railways and Canals, tripped and fell through the ice of the frozen Ottawa River. Harper dove into the water to save her, and perished in the attempt. King led the effort to raise a memorial to Harper, which resulted in the erection of the Sir Galahad statue on Parliament Hill in 1905. In 1906, King published a memoir of Harper, entitled The Secret of Heroism.

He was first elected to Parliament as a Liberal in a 1908 by-election, and was re-elected by acclamation in a 1909 by-election following his appointment as the first-ever Minister of Labour.

King's term as Minister of Labour was marked by two significant achievements. He led the passage of the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act and the Combines Investigation Act, which he had erected during his civil and parliamentary service. The legislation significantly improved the financial situation for millions of Canadian workers.[8] He lost his seat in the 1911 general election, which saw the Conservatives defeat his Liberals.

Industrial consultant, author

Following his party's defeat, he went to Brazil to work for the Rockefeller family's Foundation at their invitation, heading their new Department of Industrial Research.[9] The post offered a substantial salary. He formed a close working association and friendship with the family leader, John D. Rockefeller Jr., advising him through the turbulent period of the 1914 strike and Ludlow massacre at a family-owned coal company in Colorado, which subsequently set the stage for a new era in labor management in America.[10]

King faced criticism from certain quarters during World War I for not serving in Canada's military (instead working for the Rockefellers), but he was 40 years old when the war began, was not in good physical condition, never gave up his Ottawa home, and travelled to the United States on an as-needed basis, performing valuable service by helping to keep war-related industries running smoothly.[11]

King, while writing Industry and Humanity, 1917.

He returned to Canada to run in the 1917 election, which focused almost entirely on the conscription issue, and lost again, due to his opposition to conscription, which was supported by the majority of English Canadians.

In 1918 King, assisted by his friend F.A. McGregor, published the far-sighted book Industry and Humanity: A Study in the Principles Underlying Industrial Reconstruction, which, although it was not received with fanfare at the time, laid out the course for the next 30 years of King's political aims, which were largely realized during that time. The book has been called the most important written by a Canadian statesman.[12]

Liberal leader

In 1919, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Liberal party leader, died, and the first Liberal leadership convention was held. King entered the contest, and won over a field of four rivals, on the fourth ballot. He soon returned to parliament in a by-election. King remained leader until 1948.

Prime minister

Sir Esme Howard, Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King, Vincent Massey at the Canadian Legation during a visit to Washington on 22 November 1927

In the 1921 election, his party defeated Arthur Meighen and the Conservatives, and he became Prime Minister. King's Liberals had only a minority position, however, since they won 115 out of 233 seats; the Conservatives won 50, the newly-formed Progressive Party won 65 (but declined to form the official Opposition), and there were three Independents. This was the first minority government in Canadian history.[13]

First parliament

Despite prolonged negotiations, King was unable to attract the Progressives into his government, but once Parliament opened, he relied on their support to defeat non-confidence motions from the Conservatives. King was also opposed in many policies by the Progressives, which did not support trade tariffs. King faced a delicate balancing act of reducing tariffs enough to please the prairie-based Progressives, which were largely a farmer-based group, but not too much to alienate his vital support in Ontario and Quebec, the heart of Canadian manufacturing industries. King and Meighen sparred constantly and bitterly in Commons debates.[14]

As King's term wore on, the Progressives gradually weakened. Their effective and passionate leader, Thomas Crerar, resigned to return to his grain business, and was replaced by the more placid Robert Forke. The socialist reformer J.S. Woodsworth gradually gained influence and power, and King was able to reach an accommodation with him on policy matters, since the two shared many common ideas and plans.[15]

Second parliament

King called an election in 1925, in which the Conservatives won the most seats, but not a majority in the House of Commons. King held on to power with the support of the Progressives. Soon into his term, however, a bribery scandal in the Department of Customs was revealed, which led to more support for the Conservatives and Progressives, and the possibility that King would be forced to resign. King asked Governor General Lord Byng to dissolve Parliament and call another election, but Byng refused, the only time in Canadian history that the Governor General has exercised such a power. King resigned, and Byng asked Meighen to form a new government. When Meighen's government was defeated in the House of Commons a short time later, however, Byng called a new election in 1926, in which King's Liberals won a de facto majority government with the support of Liberal-Progressive MPs.

King, in court dress, speaking on Parliament Hill during a ceremony celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation, 1 July 1927

Third parliament

In his third term, Mackenzie King introduced old-age pensions. In February 1930, he appointed Cairine Wilson as the first female senator in Canadian history. His government was in power during the beginning of the Great Depression, but lost the election of 1930 to the Conservative Party, led by Richard Bedford Bennett. Just prior to the election, Mackenzie King blundered badly by carelessly responding to criticism over his handling of the ecomomic crisis; he stated that he "would not give a five-cent piece" to Tory provincial governments. This turned into the key election issue.[16] After his loss, Mackenzie King stayed on as Opposition Leader.

Fourth parliament

King's Liberals were returned to power once more in the 1935 election. The worst of the Depression had passed, and King implemented relief programs such as the National Housing Act and National Employment Commission. His government also created the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1936, Trans-Canada Airlines (the precursor to Air Canada) in 1937, and the National Film Board of Canada in 1939. In 1938, he changed the Bank of Canada from a private company to a crown corporation.[17]

In March 1936, in response to the German remilitarization of the Rhineland, King had the Canadian High Commissioner in London inform the British government that if Britain went to war with Germany over the Rhineland issue that Canada would remain neutral.[18] In June 1937, during an Imperial Conference of all the Dominion Prime Ministers in London convened during the coronation of King George VI, King informed British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that Canada would only go to war if Britain were directly attacked, and that if Britain were to become involved in a continental war then Chamberlain was not to expect Canadian support.[19] Also during 1937, King visited Germany and met with Adolf Hitler, becoming the first and only North American head of government to meet with Hitler. King commented in his journal that "he is really one who truly loves his fellow-men, and his country, and would make any sacrifice for their good".[20] He forecast that "the world will yet come to see a very great man – mystic in Hitler. [...] I cannot abide in Nazism – the regimentation – cruelty – oppression of Jews – attitude towards religion, etc., but Hitler, him – the peasant – will rank some day with Joan of Arc among the deliverers of his people."[20]

During the same visit to Berlin, King met with the German Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath on 30 June 1937. According to King:

“He [Neurath] said to me that I would have loathed living in Berlin with the Jews, and the way in which they had increased their numbers in the city ... He said there was no pleasure in going to a theatre which was filled with them .... They were getting control of all the business, the finance .... It was necessary to get them out to have the German people really control their own City and affairs."[20]

King suggested to Neurath that everyone should try to overcome prejudices and promote goodwill and Neurath agreed. Following a visit to his house for lunch, King noted that he found Neurath "very kind and pleasant".[20]

In 1938, during the great crisis in Central Europe over Czechoslovakia that would culminate in the Munich Agreement, King again had the Canadian High Commissioner tell the British that if war broke out over Czechoslovakia, Canada would remain neutral.[21] Privately, King was highly critical of the diplomacy of British Prime Minister Chamberlain, which he felt was involving Britain (and hence potentially the entire Commonwealth) in an issue that was of no concern to the Commonwealth.[21]

Ethnic policies

While Minister of Labour, King was appointed to investigate the causes of and claims for compensation resulting from the 1907 Asiatic Exclusion League riots in Vancouver's Chinatown and Japantown. One of the claims for damages came from Chinese opium manufacturers, which led King to investigate narcotics use in Vancouver. King became alarmed upon hearing that white women were also opium users, not just Chinese men, and he then initiated the process that led to the first legislation outlawing narcotics in Canada.[22]

Under King's administration, the Canadian government was consistent with other governments, in limiting Jewish immigration, first in the face of increasing savage anti-Semitic persecution, followed by the Holocaust in the German-dominated areas of Europe. In June 1939 Canada, along with Cuba and the United States, refused to allow the 900 Jewish refugees aboard the passenger ship M.S. St. Louis refuge.[23] There was an outcry in the press, leading one historian to quip that King "had a weather vane where most people had a heart."[24]

Fifth parliament, Second World War

King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and Prime Minister Mackenzie King in Banff, Alberta, 1939
King (back left) with (counterclockwise from King) Franklin D. Roosevelt, Governor General the Earl of Athlone and Winston Churchill on the terrace of the citadel in Quebec, Canada during the Quebec conference in 1943.
King (far right) together with (from left to right) Governor General the Earl of Athlone, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at the Octagon Conference, Quebec City, September, 1944
King, sitting left, at the 1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

Asserts Canadian autonomy

King realized the necessity of World War II before Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, and actually began mobilizing on August 25, 1939, with full mobilization on September 1. Unlike World War I, however, when Canada was automatically at war as soon as Britain joined, King asserted Canadian autonomy by waiting until September 10, a full week after Britain's declaration, when a vote in the House of Commons took place, to support the government's decision to declare war. During this time Canada was able to acquire weapons from the United States. Upon declaring war, Canada would not be able to purchase weapons from the US, under the US policy then in force of not arming belligerents. This issue soon became a moot point as the American embargo was revoked in November 1939.

Expands scientific research

King's government greatly expanded the role of the National Research Council of Canada during the war, moving into full-scale research of nuclear physics, nuclear engineering, and commercial use of nuclear power in the following years. King, with C.D. Howe acting as point man, approved the move of the nuclear group from Montreal to Chalk River, Ontario in 1944, with the establishment of Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories and the residential town of Deep River, Ontario. Canada became a world leader in this field, with the NRX reactor becoming operational in 1947; at the time, NRX was the only operational nuclear reactor outside the United States.[25]

Conscription Crisis

King's promise not to impose conscription contributed to the defeat of Maurice Duplessis's Union Nationale Quebec provincial government in 1939 and Liberals' re-election in the 1940 election. But after the fall of France in 1940, Canada introduced conscription for home service. Still, only volunteers were to be sent overseas. King wanted to avoid a repeat of the Conscription Crisis of 1917. By 1942, the military was pressing King hard to send conscripts to Europe. In 1942, King held a national plebiscite on the issue asking the nation to relieve him of the commitment he had made during the election campaign. In the House of Commons on 10 June 1942, he said that his policy was "not necessarily conscription but conscription if necessary."

French Canadians voted against conscription, with over 70% opposed, but an overwhelming majority – over 80% – of English Canadians supported it. French and English conscripts were sent to fight in the Aleutian Islands in 1943 – technically North American soil and therefore not "overseas" – but the mix of Canadian volunteers and draftees found that the Japanese Army troops had fled before their arrival. Otherwise, King continued with a campaign to recruit volunteers, hoping to address the problem with the shortage of troops caused by heavy losses in the Dieppe Raid in 1942, in Italy in 1943, and after the Battle of Normandy in 1944. In November 1944, the Government decided it was necessary to send conscripts to Europe. This led to a brief political crisis (see Conscription Crisis of 1944) and a mutiny by conscripts posted in British Columbia, but the war ended a few months later. Over 15,000 conscripts went to Europe, though only a few hundred saw combat.

King was extremely unpopular among Canadian servicemen and women during the war, who were generally pro-conscription.[26] His appearances at Canadian Army installations in Britain (and, after 6 June 1944, in continental Europe) were often greeted with boos and catcalls.[26] When he was defeated after the war in his Prince Albert riding, the servicemen's vote was considered instrumental, and a sign was placed outside the town, similar to those that had been erected in the Netherlands, reading, "This Town Liberated by the Canadian Army".

Interns Japanese-Canadians

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, King’s government oversaw the Japanese-Canadian internment on Canada’s west coast, which gave 22,000 British Columbia residents 24 hours to pack. This was done even though the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian military had told the Government that most Japanese citizens were law-abiding and not a threat. Major General Ken Stuart even wrote to Ottawa to say "I cannot see that the Japanese Canadians constitute the slightest menace to national security."[27] The federal government confiscated and sold the property and belongings of the incarcerated Japanese at public auction. After the war, King offered Japanese-Canadians the option of “repatriation" to a war-ravaged Japan, even though many had never been there and did not speak the language; they were not allowed back to coastal areas until his government fell several years later.[citation needed]

Canadian autonomy

Throughout his tenure, King led Canada from a colony with responsible government to an autonomous nation within the British Commonwealth. During the Chanak Crisis of 1922, King refused to support the British without first consulting Parliament, while the Conservative leader, Arthur Meighen, supported Britain. The British were disappointed with King's response, but the crisis was soon resolved, as King had anticipated.[28] After the King-Byng Affair, King went to the Imperial Conference of 1926 and argued for greater autonomy of the Dominions. This resulted in the Balfour Declaration 1926, which announced the equal status of all members of the British Commonwealth (as it was known then), including Britain. This eventually led to the Statute of Westminster 1931. The Canadian city of Hamilton hosted the first Empire Games in 1930; this competition later became known as the Commonwealth Games.

In the lead-up to World War II in 1939, King affirmed Canadian autonomy by saying that the Canadian Parliament would make the final decision on the issue of going to war. He reassured the pro-British Canadians that Parliament would surely decide that Canada would be at Britain's side if Great Britain was drawn into a major war. At the same time, he reassured those who were suspicious of British influence in Canada by promising that Canada would not participate in British colonial wars. His Quebec lieutenant, Ernest Lapointe, promised French-Canadians that the government would not introduce conscription; individual participation would be voluntary. In 1939, in a country which had seemed deeply divided, these promises made it possible for Parliament to agree almost unanimously to declare war.

King played two roles. On the one hand, he told English Canadians that Canada would no doubt enter war if Britain did. On the other hand, he and his Quebec lieutenant Ernest Lapointe told French Canadians that Canada would only go to war if it was in the country's best interests. With the dual messages, King slowly led Canada toward war without causing strife between Canada's two main linguistic communities. As his final step in asserting Canada's autonomy, King ensured that the Canadian Parliament made its own declaration of war one week after Britain.

King's government introduced the Canadian Citizenship Act in 1946, which officially created the notion of "Canadian citizens". Prior to this, Canadians were considered British subjects living in Canada. On 3 January 1947, King received Canadian citizenship certificate number 0001.[29]

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King becomes the first person to take the Oath of Citizenship, from Chief Justice Thibaudeau Rinfret, in the Supreme Court, 3 January 1947
Hon. Brooke Claxton and colleagues in 1946 at the Paris Peace Conference, Palais du Luxembourg. (L.-r.:) Norman Robertson, Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King, Hon. Brooke Claxton, Arnold Heeney
William Lyon Mackenzie King greeting Barbara Ann Scott, who won a gold medal in figure skating at the 1948 Winter Olympic Games, at Ottawa

Post-war Canada, sixth parliament

Mackenzie King was not charismatic and did not have a large personal following. Only 8 Canadians in 100 picked him when the Canadian Gallup (CIPO) poll asked in September, 1946, "What person living in any part of the world today do you admire?" Nevertheless, his Liberal Party was re-elected in the election of 1945. King had been considered a minor player in the war by both United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. King did act as a link between the two countries between September 1939 and December 1941, but after the U.S. entered the war his position was largely redundant. King's most important contribution to wartime diplomacy was his crafting of a plan in June 1940 to host a British government in exile and to aid in the transfer of the British fleet to Canadian ports. He also hosted a major conference in Quebec City in 1943, which was attended by both Roosevelt and Churchill.

King helped found the United Nations in 1945. Both he and Lester Pearson, who was Canada's ambassador to the United States at the time, travelled to the opening meetings in San Francisco. King, unlike Pearson, wound up pessimistic about the organization's future possibilities, and left most of the Canadian work to Pearson.[30]

After the war, King quickly dismantled wartime controls. Unlike World War I, press censorship ended with the hostilities. He began an ambitious program of social programs and laid the groundwork for Newfoundland and Labrador's entry into Canada. King also had to deal with the deepening Cold War and the fallout from espionage revelations of Russian cipher clerk Igor Gouzenko, who defected in Ottawa in 1945. Thereafter, King appointed a Royal Commission to investigate Gouzenko's allegations of a Canadian Communist spy-ring transmitting top secret documents to the Soviet Union. External Affairs minister Louis St. Laurent dealt decisively with this crisis; St. Laurent's leadership deepened King's respect, and helped make St. Laurent the next Canadian Prime Minister three years later.[31]

On 20 January 1948, King called on the Liberal Party to hold its first national convention since 1919 to choose a leader. The August convention chose Louis St. Laurent as the new leader of the Liberal Party. Three months later, King retired after 22 years as prime minister. King also had the most terms (six) as Prime Minister. Sir John A. Macdonald was second-in-line, with 19 years, as the longest-serving Prime Minister in Canadian History (1867–1873, 1878–1891).

Personal life

Much of the information on King's personal life can be sourced to the diaries he kept from 1893 until his death in 1950. One biographer has collectively described these diaries as "the most important single political document in twentieth-century Canadian history,"[32] as, in addition to the unique insight on King's private life they provide, the directions and motivations of the Canadian war efforts and other events are described in detail.[33]

Mackenzie King was a cautious politician who tailored his policies to prevailing opinions. "Parliament will decide," he liked to say when pressed to act and would often say "In times of need all nations face difficult decisions, Canada is not an exception".

Privately, he was highly eccentric with his preference for communing with spirits, including those of Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, his dead mother, and several of his Irish Terrier dogs, all named Pat except one named Bob. He also claimed to commune with the spirit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American president and close friend.[34] He sought personal reassurance from the spirit world, rather than seeking political advice. Indeed, after his death, one of his mediums said that she had not realized that he was a politician. King asked whether his party would win the 1935 election, one of the few times politics came up during his seances. His occult interests were not widely known during his years in office, and only became publicized later, and have seen in his occult activities a penchant for forging unities from antitheses, thus having latent political import. In 1953 Time Magazine stated that he owned — and used — both a Ouija board and a crystal ball. In the 1970s, biographers used the extensive diaries he kept during most of his life to delve deeper into his occult activities. One person he held seances with was Canadian Artist Homer Watson.

King never married, but had several close female friends, including Joan Patteson, a married woman with whom he spent some of his leisure time.

Some historians have interpreted passages in his diaries as suggesting that King regularly had sexual relations with prostitutes.[35] Others, also basing their claims on passages of his diaries, have suggested that King was in love with Lord Tweedsmuir, whom he had chosen for appointment as Governor General in 1935.[36]


Mackenzie King's headstone

Mackenzie King died on 22 July 1950, at Kingsmere from pneumonia, with his retirement plans to write his memoirs unfulfilled. He is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto. Unmarried, King is survived by relative Margery King.


Following the publication of King's diaries in the 1970s, several fictional works about him were published by Canadian writers. These included Elizabeth Gourlay's novel Isabel, Allan Stratton's play Rexy and Heather Robertson's trilogy Willie: A Romance (1983), Lily: A Rhapsody in Red (1986) and Igor: A Novel of Intrigue (1989).

In 1998, there was controversy over King's exclusion from a memorial to the Quebec Conference, which was attended by King, Roosevelt, and Churchill. The monument was built by the sovereigntist Parti Québécois government of Quebec, which justified the decision on the basis that King was not important enough. Canadian federalists, however, accused the government of Quebec of trying to advance their own political agenda.

OC Transpo has dedicated a Transitway station to Mackenzie King due to its location on the Mackenzie King Bridge. It is located adjacent to the Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa.

King's image on the Canadian fifty-dollar bill

His likeness is on the Canadian fifty-dollar bill.

King left no published political memoirs, although his aforementioned private diaries were extensively detailed. His main published work remains his 1918 book Industry and Humanity.

Part of his country retreat, now called Mackenzie King Estate, at Kingsmere in the Gatineau Park, near Ottawa, is open to the public. The house King died in, called "The Farm", is the official residence of the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons and is not part of the park.

The gardens at Mackenzie King Estate

The Woodside National Historic Site in Kitchener, Ontario was the cherished boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King. The estate has over 4.65 hectares of garden and parkland for exploring and relaxing, and the house has been restored to reflect life during King's era. There is a MacKenzie King Public School in the Heritage Park neighbourhood in Kitchener.

His most famous quote was "A true man does not only stand up for himself, he stands up for those that do not have the ability to".

A high school was built in his honor in 2009 and was named William Lyon Mackenzie King Secondary School.

King was mentioned in the book Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee as the subject of a nonsensical children's poem.

King was ranked #1 or greatest Canadian Prime Minister, by a survey of Canadian historians judging the first 20 Prime Ministers through Jean Chrétien, in the book Prime Ministers: Ranking Canada's Leaders by J.L. Granatstein and Norman Hillmer.

Supreme Court appointments

Statue of Mackenzie King on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario

King chose the following jurists to be appointed as justices of the Supreme Court of Canada by the Governor General:


  1. ^ King's service exceeded that of Robert Walpole. Source: The King Chronicle, Episode 1.
  2. ^ Site Map – Mackenzie King – Exhibitions – Library and Archives Canada
  3. ^ William Lyon Mackenzie King's entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  4. ^ William Lyon Mackenzie King's Diary online
  5. ^ The Age of Mackenzie King, p.42
  6. ^ The Age of Mackenzie King, p.150
  7. ^ Bruce Hutchison, The Incredible Canadian, Toronto: Longmans, 1952, p. 249.
  8. ^ Hutchison, Bruce. The Incredible Canadian, Toronto: Longmans Canada (1952) pgs 28–33
  9. ^ Hutchison, Bruce. The Incredible Canadian, Toronto, Longmans Canada (1952), pg. 34
  10. ^ Chernow,Ron, "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.", London: Warner Books (1998) pgs 571–586
  11. ^ Hutchison, Bruce. The Incredible Canadian, Toronto, Longmans Canada (1952), pgs 34–35
  12. ^ Bruce Hutchison, The Incredible Canadian, Toronto: Longmans, 1952, pp 38–44.
  13. ^ The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1952, Longmans Canada, pp. 64–65.
  14. ^ The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison, pp. 66–76.
  15. ^ The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison, pp. 76–78.
  16. ^ Mr. Prime Minister 1867–1964, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1964, Longmans
  17. ^ Who we are- About the Bank- Bank of Canada
  18. ^ Emmerson, J.T. The Rhineland Crisis March 7, 1936 A Study in Multilateral Diplomacy, Iowa State University Press: Ames, Iowa, United States of America, 1977 page 144
  19. ^ Middlemas, Keith Diplomacy of Illusion Weidenfeld and Nicolson: London, United Kingdom, 1972 pages 21–23
  20. ^ a b c d "Mackenzie King in Berlin". A Real Companion and Friend: The diary of William Lyon Mackenzie King. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  21. ^ a b Fry, Michael Graham “The British Dominions and the Munich Crisis” pages 293–341 from The Munich Crisis, 1938 edited by Erik Goldstein and Igor Lukes, London: Frank Cass, 1999 pages 320–325
  22. ^ Green M., A History of Narcotics Control: The Formative Years,(1979) University of Toronto Law Review) pg. 37.
  23. ^ Knowles, Valerie. Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540–1997, (Toronto: Dundurn, 1997)
  24. ^ Ferguson, Will. Bastards and Boneheads: Canada's Glorious Leaders Past and Present, (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1999) pg. 168.
  25. ^ Nucleus: The History of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, by Robert Bothwell, Toronto 1988, University of Toronto Press.
  26. ^ a b The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1952, Longmans; Mr. Prime Minister 1867–1964, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1964, Longmans
  27. ^ Sunahara, Ann Gomer. The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War, (Toronto: Lorimer, 1981) pg. 23.
  28. ^ The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1952, Longmans Canada.
  29. ^ CBC Archives: The first officially Canadian citizens
  30. ^ The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1952, Longmans Canada publishers.
  31. ^ Mr. Prime Minister 1867–1964, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1964, Longmans Canada publishers.
  32. ^ Stacey, C.P. (1985), A Very Double Life: The Private World of Mackenzie King, p. 9
  33. ^ Stacey, C.P. (1985), A Very Double Life: The Private World of Mackenzie King, p. 194
  34. ^ The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison.
  35. ^ Stacey, C.P. (1985), A Very Double Life: The Private World of Mackenzie King
  36. ^ Jarvis, Ian, and David Collins (Directors). (1992). Willie: Canada’s Bachelor Prime Minister. Toronto, Canada: Butterfly Productions. 

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Political offices
New title Minister of Labour
Succeeded by
Thomas Wilson Crothers
Preceded by
Daniel McKenzie
Leader of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Louis St. Laurent
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Arthur Meighen
Preceded by
Arthur Meighen
Prime Minister of Canada
Secretary of State for External Affairs
President of the Privy Council
Leader of the Opposition
Prime Minister of Canada
Succeeded by
R. B. Bennett
President of the Privy Council
Secretary of State for External Affairs
Preceded by
R. B. Bennett
Leader of the Opposition
Secretary of State for External Affairs
Succeeded by
Louis St. Laurent
Prime Minister of Canada
President of the Privy Council
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Joseph E. Seagram
MP for Waterloo North, ON
Succeeded by
William G. Weichel
Preceded by
Joseph Read
MP for Prince, PEI
Succeeded by
Alfred E. MacLean
Preceded by
John Armstrong
MP for York North, ON
Succeeded by
Thomas H. Lennox
Preceded by
Charles McDonald
MP for Prince Albert, SK
Succeeded by
Edward LeRoy Bowerman
Preceded by
William B. McDiarmid
MP for Glengarry, ON
Succeeded by
William J. Major
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Fritz Kreisler
Cover of Time Magazine
9 February 1925
Succeeded by
Harry S. New


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

William Lyon Mackenzie King PC OM CMG (1874-12-171950-07-22) was the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from December 29, 1921, to June 28, 1926; September 25, 1926, to August 6, 1930; and October 23, 1935, to November 15, 1948. With over 21 years in the office, he was the longest serving Prime Minister in British Commonwealth history.


  • Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription.
  • Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most conspicuous and sacred responsibility, all talks of the sovereignty of Parliament and of democracy is idle and futile... Once a nation parts with the control of its credit, it matters not who makes the laws... Usury once in control will wreck the nation.
  • If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography.
  • When it comes to politics, one has to do as one [does] at sea with a sailing ship... reach one's course having regard to prevailing winds.
  • It is what we prevent, rather than what we do that counts most in Government.
  • Where there is little or no public opinion, there is likely to be bad government, which sooner or later becomes autocratic government.
  • I believed the people had a true instinct in most matters of government when left alone. That they were not swayed, as specially favoured individuals were, by personal interest, but rather by a sense of what best served the common good. That they recognized the truth when it was put before them, and that a leader can guide so long as he kept to the right lines. I did not think it was a mark of leadership to try to make the people do what one wanted them to do.

About William Lyon Mackenzie King

  • We had no shape
    Because he never took sides;
    And no sides
    Because he never allowed them to take shape.
  • Do nothing by halves
    Which can be done by quarters.
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King
    Sat in a corner and played with string,
    Loved his mother like anything,
    William Lyon Mackenzie King.

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