OTD: Prime Minister King resigns

On today’s date in 1926, during a House session that lasted no more than 15 minutes, William Lyon Mackenzie King announced his resignation as prime minister of Canada.

In the general election of October 1925, Conservative leader Arthur Meighen topped the Liberals by 16 seats, and King had been defeated in his own constituency of North York. Despite these trying times, the Liberals’ 101 seats was combined with the support of the Progressive, Independent, and Labour parties, which had won another 30 seats between them. With their support, King was allowed to form the government.

Arthur Meighen, Canada’s ninth prime minister, was featured in the set.

Arthur Meighen, Canada’s ninth prime minister, was featured in the medallion set issued by Shell Canada during the 1970s.

It was less than a year later when King, believing then-opposition leader Meighen should have an opportunity to form the government, caused what’s fondly remembered as the “constitutional crisis.” It was described as an uncharacteristically short speech, but the implications were huge: after King submitted his resignation to then-Governor General Julian Byng, Canada was without a government for at least a short period of time. King himself suggested the notion the country had no legal government.

Following the King-Byng Affair (also known as the King-Byng Thing), Meighen began serving his second term as prime minister of Canada, although it would be short lived, and he would only remain in power until Sept. 25.


William Lyon Mackenzie King, who was involved in the King-Byng affair with Governor General Byng, was also featured in the set.

King was also featured in the Shell Canada set.

During the 1970s, Shell Canada issued a medallion set, “The Prime Ministers of Canada 1867-1970,” which included 15 medals featuring each Canadian prime minister between 1867 and 1970. The set was issued for distribution from Shell dealers across Canada.

The King-Byng Affair was indeed a constitutional crisis, and one that would eventually redefine the role of governor general not only in Canada but throughout all the Dominions of the British Empire, becoming a driving force in the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Statute of Westminster in 1931.

Meighen was also featured on this 4-mm thick bronze medal struck by the Franklin Mint.

Meighen was also featured on this 4-mm thick bronze medal struck by the Franklin Mint.

Mieghen was also featured on a bronze medal issued by the Franklin Mint in the 1970s. With a thickness of 4 mm, the coin’s design features Mieghen’s bust and a lengthy inscription detailing the King-Byng Affair.

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