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Daniel Roland Michener (19 April 1900 6 August 1991) was a Canadian lawyer, politician, and diplomat who, until 14 January 1974, served as the Governor General of Canada. He was appointed as such by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on the recommendation of then Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, to replace Georges Vanier as viceroy. The official announcement of the appointment was made on 29 March 1967, and Michener's investiture as the 20th governor general since Confederation took place on 17 April 1967.

Michener was born and educated in Albertamarker, where, after serving briefly in the Royal Air Force, he obtained a university degree. He then attended the University of Oxfordmarker as a Rhodes scholar, playing hockey there, and obtaining his two masters degrees. Subsequently, Michener returned to Canada and worked as a lawyer before entering politics, first in the provincial sphere, and later in the federal; Michener was elected to the House of Commons in 1957, where-after he served as a speaker of the house until 1962, and then in diplomatic postings between 1964 and 1967. He was appointed as the Canadian viceroy at the end of that year, the Canadian Centennial, and proved to be a populist governor general whose tenure is considered to be a key turning point in the history of his office.

On 15 October 1962, Michener was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, 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.

Youth and education

Michener was born the son of Senator Edward Michener, in Lacombe, Albertamarker. He attended the University of Albertamarker, where he achieved not only his Bachelor of Arts degree, but also a Rhodes Scholarship that took him to the University of Oxfordmarker. 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, Michener returned to Canada, settling in Torontomarker 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.

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

Political career

Michener first ran for political office in Ontario's 1943 election as the Progressive Conservative candidate in the riding of St. David, but was defeated by William Dennison of the Ontario Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. Michener made an attempt to win the district again in the election that followed in 1945, and was successful in defeating Dennison, taking his seat in the Legislative Assembly. Michener was subsequently appointed by Lieutenant Governor Albert Edward Matthews to the Executive Council, acting on the advice of his premier, George Drew, who gave Michener the position of 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 Ottawamarker, 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 a 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 25 May 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 1963 federal election that the Liberal Party was victorious, and its leader, who was thus appointed prime minister, was Michener's old friend from Oxford, Lester Pearson. Just over one year later, Pearson advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint Michener to the diplomatic post of High Commissioner to Indiamarker, which Michener took up on 9 July 1964, six months before he was also made Canada's first High Commissioner to Nepalmarker. While stationed on those foreign duties, Michener received overtures from the Prime Minister that the would be considered among the leading candidates for the governor generalship when he returned to Canada. But the incumbent governor general in 1967, Georges 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 the Queen to allow it. The night after he conferred with his prime minister about this matter, on 5 March, Vanier died at Rideau Hallmarker, leaving Chief Justice Robert Taschereau as Administrator of the Government in the absence of a viceroy.

Governor generalship

Michener was immediately recalled from India, and it was announced from the Prime Minister's office on 29 March 1967 that Elizabeth II had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and signet, approved the recommendation of her Canadian prime minister, Pearson, to appoint Michener as her representative. He was subsequently sworn-in during a ceremony in the Senate chamber on 17 April that year, leaving one of the shortest periods where an individual has been governor general-designate.

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 US 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 Citymarker, where the President addressed the gathered crowd, and they cheered wildly for him in return, but booed and jeered Michener.

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

Another first was Michener's state visit in 1971 to Trinidad and Tobagomarker; while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II had both carried out state visits on behalf of Canada, no Canadian governor general had ever previously undertaken such a trip. Then, in October of the same year, the Governor General was off to Iranmarker to attend the 2,500 year celebration of Iran's monarchy. 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.

He served as Chancellor of Queen's Universitymarker from 1973-1980.

Legacy

During his time at Government House, Michener and his wife relaxed protocol in a number of ways. 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. 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.

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 Queen-in-Council and private organisations, Michener was presented with the Royal Victorian Chain, a personal gift of the monarch, awarded to him by Queen Elizabeth II for his service. This made Michener one of only two Canadians to have ever received this award, the other being former governor general Vincent Massey.

Retirement and death

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 Universitymarker, while also promoting physical activity to school children and seniors alike. To provide an example to follow, at the age of 80 he climbed to the peak of Alberta's Mount Michenermarker, to participate in the ceremony marking the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta-in-Council's naming of the mountain after Michener. In 1990, he also agreed to allow his name to be used by The Michener Institutemarker.

In the mid-1980s, Michener became a caretaker for his wife after she was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. She died in Toronto on 12 January 1987, and Michener followed on 6 August 1991. His ashes were interred beside those of his wife at St. Bartholomew's Anglican Churchmarker in Ottawa, directly across Sussex Drive from Rideau Hall.

Titles, styles, honours, and arms

Titles

  • 19 April 1900 15 October 1962: Mister Roland Michener
  • 15 October 1962 9 July 1964: The Honourable Roland Michener
  • 9 July 1964 23 December 1964: His Excellency The Honourable Roland Michener, High Commissioner to India for Her Majesty's Government in Canada
  • 23 December 1964 9 April 1967: His Excellency The Honourable Roland Michener, High Commissioner to India and Nepal for Her Majesty's Government in Canada
  • 9 April 1967 13 April 1967: His Excellency The Honourable Roland Michener, High Commissioner to Nepal for Her Majesty's Government in Canada
  • 13 April 1967 17 April 1967: The Honourable Roland Michener
  • 17 April 1967 14 January 1974: His Excellency The Right Honourable Roland Michener, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada
  • 14 January 1974 6 August 1991: The Right Honourable Roland Michener


Michener's style and title as governor general was, in full, and in English: His Excellency The Right Honourable Daniel Roland Michener, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada, and in French: Son Excellence le très honorable Daniel Roland Michener, chancelier et compagnon principal de l'ordre du Canada, chancelier et commandant de l'ordre du mérite militaire, gouverneur général et commandant en chef du Canada. It should be noted that, for Michener, Commander-in-Chief was strictly a title, and not a position that he held; the actual commander-in-chief (who can also be, and is, called such) is perpetually the monarch of Canada.

In his post-viceregal life, Michener's style and title was, in English: The Right Honourable Daniel Roland Michener, Companion of the Order of Canada, Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Member of the Order of New Brunswick, and in French: le très honorable Daniel Roland Michener, compagnon de l'ordre du Canada, commandant de l'ordre du mérite militaire.

Honours

Ribbon bars of Roland Michener


Appointments


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Honorary military appointments



Honorary degrees



Honorific eponyms

Awards


Organisations


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Arms

References



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