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Sir Julian Hedworth George Byng, Viscount Byng of Vimy

Appointed: August 2, 1921
Sworn In: August 11, 1921, Quebec City, Quebec
Born: September 11, 1862, Wrotham Park, England
Died: June 6, 1935


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Julian Hedworth George Byng, Canada's twelfth Governor General, brought to his office a distinguished military record. Born on September 11th, 1862, the son of the second Earl of Strafford, he became a professional soldier and served in India; in the South African War; with the occupation forces in Egypt and in the First World War.

He commanded an army corps in the ill-fated Dardanelles Campaign and supervised the evacuation from the Straits.

In May 1916 Byng was given command of the Canadian Corps in France and led them in the capture of Vimy Ridge. At the end of the war, in recognition of his outstanding leadership and service, he was created Baron. He took his title from Vimy and retained the name in 1928 when he was created Viscount.

In 1921 Byng came to Canada and assumed his duties with a high respect for Canadians, gained from his intimate wartime associations. He set out to explore the country from cast to coast and visited far into the North, including a trip down the Mackenzie River and along the Arctic Ocean coastline.

In 1926, he found himself the central figure in an explosive constitutional issue. Prime Minister Mackenzie King, carrying on in the House with the aid of the Progressive party, faced a vote of censure and feared defeat. He asked Byng to dissolve Parliament so that a general election could be held. Byng refused and asked Arthur Meighen, the Conservative opposition leader to form a government. Meighen tried but was quickly defeated in the House. King held that Byng should follow the advice of the sovereign's Canadian Prime Minister. He was returned to power in the resultant election, and the constitutional issue was clarified and thereafter , Governors general were bound to abide by the recommendations of the Canadian Government.

Byng returned to England in 1926 and in 1928 was appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan  Police in London. He relinquished the post in 1931.

He died in 1935 and there being no children, his title became extinct.

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