Born in June 1876, Crerar's Scots inheritance and rural Manitoba upbringing gave him a life-long commitment to the liberal values of independence, self-reliance, thrift, and co-operation. He became the founding president of United Grain Growers in 1917 and was Borden's Minister of Agriculture during World War I. When the federal government refused to lower protective tariffs after the war, Crerar left the Cabinet in protest and became the leader of the newly formed Progressive Party, bringing an end to the two-party political system in Canada and leading to the first minority government in 1921. Crerar resigned the leadership of the Progressive Party in 1922 and later joined King's Cabinet, serving as a member of what may have been the strongest Cabinet in Canadian history. In 1945 Crerar was appointed to the Senate, where he held a prominent position until his retirement in 1966.