William Lyon Mackenzie King
Plot L, Section 46, Lot 21
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Born in Kitchener (then called Berlin), Ontario on December 17,1874, King was the son of John King (d. 1916) and Isabel Grace Mackenzie (d. 1917), daughter of William Lyon Mackenzie, the “fiery rebel” and leader of the Rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada. He attended public and high school in his hometown before enrolling at the University of Toronto where he graduated with a B.A. in 1895, LL.B. in 1896 and M.A. in 1897. He also won fellowships at the University of Chicago and Harvard. When Mackenzie King wasn’t attending university, he worked as a newspaper reporter and frequently wrote about social problems and conditions.
He was offered the position of deputy minister in Prime Minister Laurier’s new Labour Department which the young man accepted. In 1908, Mackenzie King was elected to parliament for the first time as the Liberal member for Waterloo North and was subsequently appointed minister of labour. In 1911, both Mackenzie King and his party were defeated and he soon left for the United States where he became director of industrial research for the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1917, Mackenzie King returned to Canada and ran unsuccessfully as the Liberal candidate in the riding of York North. Following the death of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1919, Mackenzie King became the new leader of the national Liberal Party. He won a seat in a by-election in Prince County, Prince Edward Island and in the general election of 1921 decided to run again in York North where he had been defeated four years earlier. This time he won and was now able to sit in parliament as the country’s tenth prime minister.
In 1925, another election was called, but this time the outcome was indecisive. The Liberals tried to carry on, but the balance was too precarious and parliament was dissolved. The Conservatives, under Arthur Meighen, formed a government only to be defeated in the general election of 1926 (having been in power a mere eighty-eight days) and Mackenzie King once again took over, this time remaining in the prime minister’s office until defeated by R.B. Bennett in 1930. Five years later, Mackenzie King and his Liberals were again returned to power, as they were following elections in 1940 and 1945.
In total, William Lyon Mackenzie King held the office of Prime Minister of Canada for more than 21 years, a record that still stands. He relinquished the party leadership and prime ministership in 1948, though he retained his seat in Parliament until the general election held on June 27, 1949. A little more than one year later, on July 22, 1950 Mackenzie King passed away and was laid to rest with his mother (with whom he is said to have communicated after her death) and father, both of whom are in this plot.
Mackenzie King’s mother was the youngest daughter of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor, who is buried in the Necropolis. His father, John King, was a talented lawyer who was elected to the senate of the University of Toronto and later in life became a lecturer in criminal law at Osgoode Law School. Also buried in the King plot is his namesake Surgeon-Lieutenant William Lyon Mackenzie King who was killed when his destroyer, HMCS St. Croix, was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in September, 1943. In total, nine people are interred in this plot.
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded