William Lyon Mackenzie King

From left, King, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Canadian Governor-General, the Earl of Athlone

On this date in 1948 William Lyon Mackenzie King, our longest-serving prime minister, was succeeded by Louis St. Laurent.

Frye, in a 1981 interview with Maureen Harris, places King in the pattern of Canadian politics:

Canada has always had its famous problem of identity and a problem of diffidence.  The result is that it’s not a nation that places much trust in heroic leaders.  The attitude to Mackenzie King in every election was, “Oh my God, do we have to go out and vote for that guy again?” — but they always did.  Then, when Trudeau came along. . .I’ve been very convinced that the enormous outburst of creative activity in English Canada from about 1960 on was the result of the previous Quiet Revolution in Quebec; it was a response to the fact that French Canada had developed and was conscious of an identity of its own.  I think people in 1968 saw Trudeau as the person who united these two forms of consciousness.  But no golden age lasts, and the Canadian habit, like the habits of any country, will reassert itself sooner or later.  So now we’re back at the stage of, “Oh my God, do we have to go out and vote for that guy again?”  (CW 24, 516)

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