MP-1978.107.216 | William Lyon Mackenzie King and friend on railway platform, Montreal, QC, about 1930

William Lyon Mackenzie King and friend on railway platform, Montreal, QC, about 1930
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1930, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 17 cm
Purchase from Napoleon Antiques
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cityscape (3948) , informal (1120) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878) , Train (185)
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Keys to History

The prime minister at the start of 1930 was Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950). A well-to-do bachelor, he had led the federal Liberal party since 1919 and, except for a few months in 1926, had led Canada since 1921.

King was slow to react to the deteriorating economy, seeing the growing unemployment as seasonal. In April 1930, he stated that he would not give anything to any Conservative provincial government for dealing with unemployment: "I would not give them a five-cent piece."

In the federal election of July 28, 1930, the Liberals ran on their record as prudent guardians of the federal treasury. Many voters, distressed by evidence of an economic slump and Liberal insensitivity to it, turned against the government. The Liberals lost 37 of the 128 seats (out of 245) they had won in 1926, and the Conservatives took office.

  • What

    Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King saw provincial requests for money to deal with unemployment as raids on the federal treasury intended to save the provinces from having to spend their own money.

  • Where

    The railways were still the main form of transportation in the Depression years. Passenger air travel was in its infancy, and highways were not yet paved in many places.

  • When

    The photo was probably taken in June or July of 1930, during the federal election campaign. The Liberal party may have chartered this train for its leader's use.

  • Who

    The identity of the man with the Prime Minister is not indicated, but he was very probably a Liberal politician who was eager to be photographed with the party leader.