Mackenzie King passes power on to Louis St. Laurent
Nov. 15, 1948 6 Mackenzie King had been Liberal leader for almost 30 years. As prime minister, he had led the country through the aftermath of the Great War, the last years of the Great Depression and the Second World War. He forged a modern, industrial, mostly united Canada, along with the precursor to the welfare state, making him our greatest prime minister in the eyes of many historians. But he was unloved: petty, ungracious, obsessed with a succession of Irish terriers, all named Pat, given to seances with the dead – including the previous Pats. By 1948, he was old, lonely and unwell. Although the apparitions of Franklin Roosevelt and Wilfrid Laurier urged him to stay on, he reluctantly resigned in favour of Louis St. Laurent. Within two years he was gone. His closest aide confessed: “I felt no real sorrow at Mackenzie King’s death.” Yet, we live in the Canada he shaped.