July 2, 2019 6:43 pm

Dark Poutine podcast recap: The weird world of William Lyon Mackenzie King

Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (left) and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt talk at the Quebec Conference in Quebec City in August 1943.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ National Archives of Canada
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On this week’s Canada Day episode of the Dark Poutine podcast, we look at the 10th prime minister of Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie King.

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He was instrumental in Canada’s growth from a mere British colony to an independent nation within the Commonwealth. He saw the country through the Second World War and helped to create some of the social policies that continue to make Canada one of the greatest countries in the world in which to live.

READ MORE: Seances, drinking, and a heart attack: 5 unusual stories about Canada’s prime ministers

Mackenzie King had his dark side, too, as is evidenced in his extensive diaries. His government oversaw the internment of 22,000-plus who were either Canadians with Japanese heritage or Japanese nationals.

King’s beliefs in the afterlife and spiritualist practices are probably the most bizarre. Driven by loneliness, Canada’s longest-serving prime minister believed he was able to communicate with the spirits of dead relatives — in particular, his mother. He also claimed to have interacted with the spirits of other dead politicians, Leonardo da Vinci and even his own deceased dog.

Sources:
Library and Archives Canada — Diaries of William Lyon Mackenzie King
Diary entry — Mackenzie King meets Adolf Hitler
Harper Memorial (Sir Galahad)
Video — From the Diaries of William Lyon Mackenzie King (2017)
OpenTextBC article on Japanese internment in Canada
Japanese Canadian Internment, narrated by David Suzuki
Mental Floss — Was Canada’s longest-serving PM also its strangest?
Book — King: William Lyon Mackenzie King: A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny
Book — Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life

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