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Roland Michener

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Roland Michener

The Right Honourable ρ
Daniel Roland Michener
20th Governor General of Canada
In office
April 17, 1967 – January 14, 1974
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson
Pierre Trudeau
Preceded by Georges Vanier
Succeeded by Jules Léger
Personal details
Born (1900-04-19)April 19, 1900
Lacombe, NWT (now Lacombe, Alberta)
Died August 6, 1991(1991-08-06) (aged 91)
Toronto, Ontario
Spouse(s) Norah Michener
Profession Lawyer, Politician, Diplomat
Religion Anglicanism

Daniel Roland Michener PC CC CMM OOnt CD QC FRHSC(hon) (April 19, 1900 – August 6, 1991), commonly known as Roland Michener, was a Canadian lawyer, politician, and diplomat who served as Governor General of Canada, the 20th since Canadian Confederation.

Michener was born and educated in viceroy, and he occupied the post until succeeded by Jules Léger in 1974. Michener proved to be a populist governor general whose tenure is considered to be a key turning point in the history of his office.

On October 15, 1962, Michener was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada,[2] giving him the accordant style of The Honourable; however, as a former Governor General of Canada, Michener was entitled to be styled for life with the superior form of The Right Honourable. He subsequently served on various corporate and charitable boards and sat as Chancellor of Queen's University before he died on August 6, 1991.


  • Youth and education 1
  • Political career 2
  • Governor General of Canada 3
    • Legacy 3.1
  • Retirement and death 4
  • Titles, styles, honours, and arms 5
    • Titles 5.1
    • Honours 5.2
      • Honorary military appointments 5.2.1
      • Honorary degrees 5.2.2
      • Honorific eponyms 5.2.3
    • Arms 5.3
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Youth and education

Michener was born in Lacombe, Alberta (then part of the Northwest Territories), to Senator Edward Michener and Mary E. Roland.[3][4] He attended the University of Alberta, where he achieved not only his Bachelor of Arts degree, but also a Rhodes Scholarship that took him to Hertford College at the University of Oxford. There, he played for the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club and met a man who was to become influential and Michener's lifelong friend, Lester B. Pearson. After completing both his Master of Arts and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees,[1] Michener returned to Canada, settling in Toronto and practicing law. At the same time, he sat on the Executive Council of Ontario, acted as the General Secretary for the Rhodes Foundation in Canada between 1936 and 1964 and sat as chairman of the Manitoba Royal Commission on Local Government.[1]

On February 26, 1927, in St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church (where future Governor General Adrienne Clarkson later worshipped), Michener married Norah Willis and the couple had three daughters.[3]

Political career

Michener first ran for political office in Provincial Secretary and Registrar of Ontario, tasked with formalising cabinet procedures, including agenda and minutes. However, after Dennison was again victorious in the 1948 provincial election, Michener decided to leave provincial politics for the federal variant.

The 1949 federal election was Michener's first try for the House of Commons in Ottawa, but, as with his first attempt at the Ontario legislature, he was unsuccessful. It was not until the election of 1953 that Michener finally was elected as the Progressive Conservative (PC) Member of Parliament for St. Paul's. Three years later, the PC party elected at its leadership convention John Diefenbaker as leader, who subsequently led the Tories to a minority win in the election of 1957 and was appointed as prime minister. Though Michener was not offered a seat in the Cabinet, he was appointed speaker of the house, after the post was turned down by Stanley Knowles.

From this position, Michener angered Diefenbaker by allowing the loyal opposition a great degree of latitude during Question Period, so much so that at one point, on May 25, 1959, Diefenbaker became so flustered that he refused to sit down when called to order by Michener. Actions like these, among others, impressed parliamentary observers and a group of university professors initiated a campaign to make Michener's position as speaker permanent; they proposed that, as is the tradition with the Speaker of the British House of Commons, Michener run as an independent in general elections and that the political parties agree not to run candidates against him. Such an agreement, however, failed to materialize, and when Michener ran for re-election in the 1962 race, he was defeated. This was the first time since 1867 that a speaker had lost his riding in an election in which his party formed the government. After Diefenbaker declined to advise the Governor General to summon Michener to the Senate, the latter returned to Toronto and dedicated his time to his law practice, Lang Michener LLP.

It was in the high commissioner to India,[7] which Michener took up on July 9, 1964, six months before he was also made Canada's first ambassador to Nepal.[8] While stationed on those foreign duties, Michener received overtures from the Prime Minister that he would be considered among the leading candidates for the governor generalship when he returned to Canada. But, Vanier was in deteriorating health and, though he offered to stay on as viceroy through to the end of the Canadian Centennial celebrations, Pearson was not comfortable in advising Queen Elizabeth II to allow it. The night after he conferred with his prime minister about that matter, Vanier died on March 5 at Rideau Hall, leaving Chief Justice Robert Taschereau as Administrator of the Government in the absence of a viceroy.

Governor General of Canada

Michener was immediately recalled from India and it was on March 29, 1967, announced from the

Government offices
Preceded by
Georges Vanier
Governor General of Canada
April 17, 1967 – January 14, 1974
Succeeded by
Jules Léger
Political offices
Provincial Government of George A. Drew
Preceded by
George Harrison Dunbar
Provincial Secretary and Registrar of Ontario
April 15, 1946 – October 19, 1948
Succeeded by
Dana Porter
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Louis-René Beaudoin
Speaker of the House of Commons
October 14, 1957 – September 27, 1962
Succeeded by
Marcel Lambert
title1        = Member of Parliament for St. Paul's
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Preceded by
William Dennison
Member for St. David
June 4, 1945 – June 7, 1948
Succeeded by
William Dennison
Diplomatic posts
New title Canadian Ambassador to Nepal
December 23, 1964 – April 13, 1967
Succeeded by
James George
Preceded by
Edward Rose Rettie
Canadian High Commissioner to India
July 9, 1964 – April 9, 1967
Succeeded by
Douglas Barcham Hicks
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Bertram Stirling
Chancellor of Queen's University
Succeeded by
Agnes Benidickson
  • Roland Michener – Parliament of Canada biography
  • Website of the Governor General of Canada entry for Roland Michener
  • The Michener Awards Foundation
  • The Michener Institute For Applied Health Sciences
  • Order of Canada citation
  • Ontario Legislative Assembly Parliamentarian History

External links

  1. ^ a b c d "The Michener Institute > About Michener > Biography of D. Roland Michener". The Michener Institute. 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ a b "A History of the Campus and Its People > People in Queen's History > Chancellors since 1877 > The Rt Hon Daniel Roland Michener (1900-1991)". Queen's University. Retrieved March 12, 2009. 
  4. ^ Parker, C.W. (1914). Who's who in Canada: an illustrated biographical record of men and women of the time 6–7. Toronto: International Press Limited. p. 960. 
  5. ^ Canadian Press (1943-08-05). "Ontario Election Results". The Gazette (Montreal). p. 12. 
  6. ^ Canadian Press (1945-06-05). "How Ontario Electors Voted in all 90 Ridings". The Toronto Daily Star (Toronto). p. 5. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  7. ^ Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "About the Department > Canadian Heads of Posts Abroad from 1880 > India". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  8. ^ Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "About the Department > Canadian Heads of Posts Abroad from 1880 > Nepal". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  9. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Governor General > Former Governors General > The Right Honourable Daniel Roland Michener". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  10. ^ Milnes, Arthur (May 5, 2010). "Have we found our next Governor General?". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^ Quebec Bureau (July 24, 1967). "Quebec gives de Gaulle, warm reserved welcome". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). pp. 1, 10. 
  13. ^ Gray, John (September 30, 2000), "Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1919–2000", The Globe and Mail, archived from the original on January 18, 2008, retrieved April 20, 2008 
  14. ^ Off, Carol (September 24, 2010). . [it Happens]. [42]. 35:30-44:50 minutes in. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  15. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. [Order of Canada citation "Honours > National Honours > Order of Canada > Order of Canada Membership List > Roland Michener, P.C., C.C., C.M.M., C.D., LL.D"] . Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 12, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Mailbox". Royal Insight Magazine (London: Queen's Printer) (April 2006): 3. Retrieved March 14, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b Pepall, John (1 March 1990). "Who is the Governor General?". The Idler (Toronto). Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  18. ^ Delacourt, Susan (January 14, 1987), "Norah Michener: Philosopher enhanced Rideau Hall", The Globe and Mail: A17 
  19. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Insignia Worn by the Governor General". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved February 27, 2009. 
  20. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Order of Canada". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved February 27, 2009. 
  21. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Order of Military Merit". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved February 27, 2009. 
  22. ^ a b c d "Arms of Past and Present Canadian Governors General > MICHENER, The Rt. Hon. Daniel Roland, CC, CD, FRHSC (Hon)". Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. Retrieved March 12, 2009. 
  23. ^ Badraie
  24. ^ "HONORARY DEGREES" (PDF). Queen's University. December 15, 2008. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  25. ^ "University of Alberta Senate > Honorary Degrees > Past Honorary Degree Recipients > M". University of Alberta. Retrieved April 28, 2009. 


See also

Arms of Roland Michener
As Michener served as governor general prior to the establishment of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, he was granted a coat of arms by the body previously responsible for heraldry in Canada: the College of Arms, in London, United Kingdom.
June 10, 1968
In front of a demi-lion supporting a representation of the Mace of the House of Commons of Canada Or a Plate charged with a Maple Leaf Gules.[22]
Azure four bendlets interlaced in saltire between in chief a representation of the Royal Crown Or and in base a Fleur de Lis Or.[22]
On the dexter side a Deer Gules attired and unguled Or charged on the shoulder with a Plate thereon a Rose Gules barbed and seeded proper and on the sinister side a Deer Argent attired and unguled Or charged on the shoulder with a Torteau thereon a Square Buckle Argent.[22]
(Free and ordained)
The insignias of a Companion of the Order of Canada and of the Venerable Order of Saint John.
The mace is that of the House of Commons, evoking Michener's time as speaker of that chamber; the lion holding it is drawn from the coat of arms of Alberta, the symbol of the province in which Michener was born; and the maple leaf is the floral symbol of Canada. The Crown represents the Canadian sovereign that Léger represented as viceroy, while the Fleur de Lys is emblematic of French-Canadian culture. The red deer to the left recalls Red Deer, Alberta, of which Michener's father was mayor, and the wild rose affixed to the deer is also the official flower of Alberta. The two medallions beneath the shield signify that Michener was a member of both the Order of Canada and the Venerable Order of Saint John.


Geographic locations
Mount Michener's north face

Honorific eponyms

Honorary degrees

Honorary military appointments

Ribbon bars of Roland Michener


  • April 19, 1900 – October 15, 1962: Mister Roland Michener
  • October 15, 1962 – July 9, 1964: The Honourable Roland Michener
  • July 9, 1964 – December 23, 1964: His Excellency the Honourable Roland Michener, High Commissioner to India for Her Majesty's Government in Canada
  • December 23, 1964 – April 9, 1967: His Excellency the Honourable Roland Michener, High Commissioner to India and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Nepal for Her Majesty's Government in Canada
  • April 9, 1967 – April 13, 1967: His Excellency the Honourable Roland Michener, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Nepal for Her Majesty's Government in Canada
  • April 13, 1967 – April 17, 1967: The Honourable Roland Michener
  • April 17, 1967 – January 14, 1974: His Excellency the Right Honourable Roland Michener, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada
  • January 14, 1974 – August 6, 1991: The Right Honourable Roland Michener
Viceregal styles of
Roland Michener
Reference style His Excellency the Right Honourable
Son Excellence le très honorable
Spoken style Your Excellency
Votre Excellence
Alternative style Sir


Titles, styles, honours, and arms

In the mid-1980s, Michener became a caretaker for his wife after she was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. She died in Toronto on January 12, 1987,[18] and Michener followed on August 6, 1991. St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church in Ottawa, directly across Sussex Drive from Rideau Hall, is the repository of the couple's ashes.

After his term as governor general, Michener and his wife moved to Toronto. Michener remained active in business throughout the country, serving on boards of directors and promoting Canadian charities and cultural institutions and, from 1973 to 1980, sat as Chancellor of Queen's University, while also promoting physical activity to school children and seniors alike. To provide an example to follow, he, at the age of 80, climbed to the peak of Alberta's Mount Michener, to participate in the ceremony marking the Alberta Crown-in-Council's naming of the mountain after him. In 1990, he also agreed to allow his name to be used by The Michener Institute.[1]

Retirement and death

Michener, as governor general, created two awards to be bestowed on Canadians: reflecting his interest in sport fishing, he formed the Michener Tuna Trophy and, in demonstration of his strong relationship with many reporters and journalists, he founded in 1970 the Michener Award for Journalism. In return, besides being bestowed with a number of honours by both the Vincent Massey, to be presented with the Royal Victorian Chain, a personal gift of the monarch, awarded to him by Queen Elizabeth II for his service.

Though he wore for state occasions the elaborate court dress of the Windsor uniform, Michener discontinued the practice of women curtseying before the governor general, a move that was rumoured to have been inspired by the refusal of Maryon Pearson, wife of Prime Minister Lester Pearson, to give such deference to her long-time friends.[17] Further, he fostered links between his position and his provincial counterparts by initiating periodic meetings with the lieutenant governors of the provinces, starting in 1973. He was, however, criticized for not reacting to Pierre Trudeau's "contemptuous musings" about the Crown and the governor general.[17]


Another first was Michener's Iran to attend the Iranian monarchy's 2,500th anniversary. These voyages initially caused controversy among diplomatic insiders in Ottawa, who viewed it as inappropriate for someone who was not technically the country's head of state to undertake a state visit. However, the successes of the trip helped end the controversy, and established a precedent thereafter followed in Canada, and adopted by other Commonwealth realms.

Left to right at front: Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Queen Juliana, Roland Michener, and Norah Michener in Amsterdam, April 14, 1971

On July 1, 1967, the Order of Canada was created, with Michener becoming the order's first member, as well as the first chancellor and principal companion.[15] As such, he presided over the first investiture ceremony, at Rideau Hall, on July 9, investing 90 people into the order. On a later visit to London, United Kingdom, he presented the insignia of the Sovereign of the order to Queen Elizabeth II.[16] Similarly, on July 1, 1972, the Order of Military Merit was founded and Michener was appointed the first Chancellor and Commander.

Beginning in 1963, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) became active in detonating some 95 bombs around Montreal,[13] resulting in multiple arrests, which then led to the October Crisis in October, 1970. On the 5th of that month, FLQ members kidnapped British trade commissioner James Cross and, five days later, did the same to Quebec's minister of labour, Pierre Laporte. However, it was in 2010 revealed through interviews conducted with 12 of those involved in the kidnappings, including Jacques Lanctôt and Jacques Rose, done for a documentary aired on Tout le monde en parle, that Michener had originally been their intended target; the FLQ leaders allegedly planned to commandeer the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Télévision de Radio-Canada and conduct a 24-hour telethon with the Governor General bound in a chair as a prop on the stage.[14] Ultimately, with the two officials missing, Michener, as Governor-in-Council, invoked the War Measures Act and Quebec police, with the support of the Canadian Forces, rounded up hundreds of individuals, leading to the detention of the kidnappers and their accomplices.

Michener attending the graduation ceremonies at Alma College in 1972

The hurry did not end there, as, only ten days after Michener was made viceroy, he officially opened that year's World's Fair, Expo 67, which was held in Montreal. The fair, combined with the 100th anniversary of Confederation, attracted some 53 heads of state, as well as numerous other dignitaries, to visit Canada and, as per diplomatic protocol, it was Michener, as the representative of Canada's head of state, who greeted and held audience with each of them. Among this litany of guests was United States president Lyndon B. Johnson; Grace, Princess of Monaco; Jacqueline Kennedy; Emperor Haile Selassie; and French president Charles de Gaulle. Michener welcomed the latter when he landed at his first stop in Canada, Quebec City,[11] where the president addressed the gathered crowd, and they cheered wildly for him in return, but booed and jeered Michener when the Royal Anthem, "God Save the Queen", was played at his arrival.[12]

on April 17 that year, leaving one of the shortest periods where an individual has been governor general-designate. Senate chamber Michener was subsequently sworn-in during a ceremony in the [10] said "I don’t think there was anybody inside or outside the public service who could qualify better than Michener... People just felt that this was a good appointment."Paul Martin Sr. Despite being a Conservative, Liberal members of parliament and cabinet ministers welcomed the selection of Michener; [9]

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