Ralph Champneys Williams was a career British public servant who came to Newfoundland as the Governor at the tail end of one of the greatest periods of political turmoil in the country’s history.
Sir Robert Bond went to the polls in the 1908 at the head of the Liberal to face his rival Sir Edward Morris, the Leader of the Opposition and head of a coalition of Conservatives and some others under the name of The People’s Party.
The result was a tied election. Unable to form an administration that could survive the election of a speaker. Bond went to the Governor to advise him to issue a writ for a new election. The Governor – Sir Williams MacGregor – refused to issue the writ and instead called on Morris to form an administration. He was in the same position, of course, and, when the House could not elect a Speaker, MacGregor dissolved the House on Morris’ advice. Morris went to the polls as Prime Minister and won a majority.
Williams arrived in Newfoundland in the wake of two years of political upheaval. He found himself in a place that was likely very strange to him.