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William Ross Macdonald

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William Ross Macdonald

The Honourable
William Ross Macdonald
21st Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
In office
July 4, 1968 – April 10, 1974
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General
Preceded by William Earl Rowe
Succeeded by Pauline Mills McGibbon
Leader of the Government in the Senate
In office
April 22, 1963 – February 2, 1964
Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson
Preceded by Alfred Johnson Brooks
Succeeded by John Joseph Connolly
In office
Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent
Preceded by Wishart McLea Robertson
Succeeded by John Thomas Haig
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
In office
Preceded by Ralph Campney
Succeeded by Léon Balcer
18th Solicitor General of Canada
In office
January 12, 1954 – June 20, 1957
Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent
Preceded by Ralph Campney
Succeeded by Léon Balcer
Senator for Brantford, Ontario
In office
June 12, 1953 – December 22, 1967
Appointed by Louis St. Laurent
22nd Speaker of the House of Commons
In office
September 15, 1949 – June 11, 1953
Preceded by Gaspard Fauteux
Succeeded by Louis-René Beaudoin
Member of Parliament
In office
Preceded by new constituency
Succeeded by Louis-René Beaudoin
Constituency James Elisha Brown
In office
Preceded by Robert Edwy Ryerson
Succeeded by constituency abolished
Constituency Brantford City
Personal details
Born (1891-12-25)December 25, 1891
Toronto, Ontario
Died May 28, 1976(1976-05-28) (aged 84)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party Liberal
Alma mater
Profession Lawyer
Military service
Service/branch Canadian Expeditionary Force
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars First World War

William Ross Macdonald, PC OC CD QC (December 25, 1891 – May 28, 1976), served as the 21st Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1968 to 1974, and as Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons from 1949 to 1953.


  • Early life 1
  • Political career 2
  • Freemasonry 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life

Macdonald was born in Toronto, Ontario, to a dry goods merchant who had immigrated from Scotland. He went on to study law at the University of Toronto and the Osgoode Hall Law School. Upon completion, he practised law in Brantford, Ontario, and served with the 2nd Cycle Corps and 4th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War.

In 1921, Macdonald married Muriel Whittaker.

Political career

Macdonald sought Liberal Party nomination to run for election to the Canadian House of Commons for the 1926 election, but lost the nomination by a single vote. He won the nomination for the Brantford riding in the next election, but lost the election. Macdonald was elected in the 1935 election. He served as Member of Parliament (MP) until 1953.

During World War II, Macdonald was a staunch supporter of conscription. His position is made clear in this wartime quote taken from a Canadian newspaper, "There is a victory to be won and that can be accomplished only by every Canadian taking part." After the war, he served as Deputy Speaker (1945–1949) and then as Speaker of the House of Commons (1949–1953).

While serving as Speaker of the House of Commons Macdonald made a famous ruling, banning musical instruments from being played in the Chamber, on June 3, 1950. The ban came about after Daniel McIvor MP for Fort William played a flute while waiting for a vote call.[1]

In 1953, Governor General Vincent Massey, on the advice of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, appointed Macdonald to the Canadian Senate, where he became Leader of the Government in the Canadian Senate and a minister without portfolio in the Canadian Cabinet. From 1954 until the Liberal government's defeat in the 1957 election, Macdonald served as Solicitor General of Canada.

With the defeat of the Liberals, he became Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Senate, and served again as Government Leader when the Liberals returned to power in 1963. He retired from the Cabinet in 1964. From 1964 to 1972, he was the second Chancellor of Waterloo Lutheran University. [2]

Governor General Roland Michener, on the advice of Lester Pearson, appointed Macdonald to serve as Lieutenant Governor from 1968 to 1974. In this role, he was involved with many service groups, such as the Canadian Order of Foresters and the Kiwanis Club.

In 1974, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.[2] The Ontario School for the Blind in Brantford was renamed the W. Ross Macdonald School in his honour.

He died in Toronto in 1976.


William Macdonald was a devoted Freemason initiated on March 17, 1917 at the Doric Lodge No. 121 in Brantford, Ontario.


  1. ^ "Bag Pipes And Tin Horns Under Ban in Commons". Vol XLIII No. 146 (The Lethbridge Herald). June 3, 1950. p. 1. 
  2. ^ Order of Canada citation

External links

  • William Ross Macdonald – Parliament of Canada biography
Political offices
Preceded by
Ralph Osborne Campney
Solicitor General of Canada
Succeeded by
Léon Balcer
Government offices
Preceded by
Wishart McLea Robertson
Leader of the Government in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
John Thomas Haig
Preceded by
John Thomas Haig
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
Alfred Johnson Brooks
Preceded by
Alfred Johnson Brooks
Leader of the Government in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
John Joseph Connolly
Academic offices
Preceded by
William Daum Euler
Chancellor of Waterloo Lutheran University
Succeeded by
Paul Joseph Martin
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