Though politics had been more bitter than sweet for Diefenbaker in the time leading up to his election to the House of Commons, his most trying years came in the early 1950s. It was then that he lost his strongest personal and political supporter — his first wife, Edna, died. This, combined with the elimination of his Lake Centre constituency, caused Diefenbaker to consider giving up on politics altogether.

However, the call to political service was strong for Diefenbaker. Indomitable in spirit, he rallied in 1953 to again run for office in the riding of Prince Albert — this time successfully. Further opportunity presented itself in 1956 when George Drew, the leader of the Progressive Conservative party, suddenly resigned.

Surprising his detractors, Diefenbaker swept to a first ballot victory at the leadership convention. Few political observers gave Diefenbaker much of a chance and many predicted that the Liberals would easily win the next election. Diefenbaker proved them all wrong.