OTD: Third Canadian-born governor-general takes office

On today’s date in 1967, Daniel Roland Michener – an avid stamp collector – took office as the third Canadian-born governor general.

Born into a prominent family in Lacombe, Alta., Michener was the son of Senator Edward Michener and his wife Mary Edith Roland. After attending school in Alberta and briefly serving in the Royal Air Force, the younger Michener then attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, playing hockey and earning two master’s degrees.

Upon graduation, Michener returned to Canada and worked as a lawyer from 1924-57 but entered politics in 1945—first in the provincial sphere and later federally. He was a member of the Ontario legislature from 1945-48 and served in cabinet from 1946-48 before being elected – as a Progressive Conservative – to the House of Commons in 1953. He served as the speaker from 1957 until his electoral defeat in 1962 as well as in diplomatic postings between 1964 and 1967.

“His old friend, Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, appointed him High Commissioner to India in 1964 and Ambassador to Nepal in 1965,” reads Canada Post’s October 1992 Details magazine.

On April 17, 1967, after the death of Georges Vanier, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Michener as Canada’s governor general on Pearson’s recommendation. That year, he also became the first Order of Canada recipient.

“Many Canadians will fondly remember him as a fitness devotee, whom the Alberta Blood Indians named ‘Running Antelope,'” adds Details. “And although he sat on the Boards of 26 companies, received 11 Honourary university degrees and 26 Honourary memberships, he always considered the Order of Canada as his most prestigious award.”

Michener served as the governor general until 1974.

He died at his home on Aug. 6, 1991.

Canada Post also marked the 25th anniversary of the Order of Canada, of which Michener was the first recipient, in 1992.

1992 MICHENER STAMP

On Oct. 21, 1992, Canada Post issued two stamps, both of which were related to Michener.

Tania Craan designed a 42-cent stamp (Scott #1447) based on a portrait photograph by Artin Cavouk featuring Michener as the focus. Ashton-Potter printed the stamp on Coated Papers paper.

A second stamp (SC #1446), based on a photograph by Michael Kohn, features the Order of Canada, which Michener received when the honour was launched in 1967.

“The Order of Canada, centrepiece of the Canadien system of honours, is one of the highest accolades a Canadian may achieve,” reads the Details article accompanying the 1992 stamp issue.

“Roland Michener was the first to receive the Order of Canada at a private ceremony with Queen Elizabeth II in England.”

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