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Archive for the ‘Laurier’ Category

PearsonTwo former homes of Lester Pearson have a probable date with the wrecking ball. One is at 1984 Yonge Street in Toronto. It was the Davisville Methodist Church manse where he lived for three years shortly after he was born. The other is at 231 Cobourg Avenue in Ottawa, an apartment building that has served more recently as Uganda’s high commission office. Pearson lived there in the mid-1950s while serving as Canada’s External Affairs minister.

While there aren’t efforts to save the heavily renovated Toronto house — the local historical society feels a plaque on the site is sufficient — there is a more concerted effort to save the aging red brick apartment block in Ottawa.

When is it appropriate to turn former homes of past leaders into historical sites? Most Prime Ministers have lived in many places during their lifetimes. Sparing all the buildings or turning them into historical sites simply isn’t practical. The key is determining which homes have played a significant part in the life of the former Prime Minister — places like Macdonald‘s Bellevue or Laurier‘s & Mackenzie King‘s Laurier House — and not be too concerned about sites that just happened to be home addresses for relatively short periods of time.

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MacdonaldThe majority of Canadian Prime Ministers have had schools named after them, but as some Canadians revise their assessment of our leaders through the prism of today’s mores, expect the clamour to expunge the names to continue. That’s because all of our leaders have a dark side. They did things in their day that they believed (and were seen by most of society at the time) to be the ‘right thing’.

Macdonald has lots of schools named after him; Laurier has a university; Abbott has a college. A few have had schools named after them that have since closed (Bowell and Bennett). Clark is the only living former PM with a school bearing his name, although Mulroney has a university institute named after him in the Maritimes.

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July81896: Although the Conservatives clearly lost the election on June 23, 117 to 86 seats against Wilfrid Laurier‘s Liberal party, Prime Minister Sir Charles Tupper has been clinging to power ever since. He has been determined to get approval for a few initiatives before stepping down, namely a new steamship line and raft of patronage appointments.

Governor General Lord Aberdeen, who dislikes Tupper, refuses to grant his wishes. So, Tupper spent his 75th birthday two days ago arguing his case one last time before the Queen’s representative. No go. Aberdeen has finally been able to force Tupper’s resignation as Canada’s sixth and briefest Prime Minister.

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July61885: The government of Sir John A. Macdonald passes the Dominion Franchise Act, moving the criteria for voting eligibility from the provinces to Ottawa. As a result, some groups who have had the vote in parts of the country – widows, spinsters and some indigenous groups – lose it.

Concern about letting indigenous peoples vote was heightened by the recent Northwest Rebellion in western Canada. The influence of British Columbia also ensured that ‘Asiatics’ and ‘Chinamen’ would be excluded. Many, but not enough, MPs were in favour of expanding voter eligibility. Macdonald was for the idea, but  unwilling to push for it. Opposition Leader Wilfrid Laurier objected to opening it up. In 1898, responsibility for eligibility will return to the provinces.

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may191909: The federal departments of the Postmaster General and Labour become separate jurisdictions. In making the change, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier needs a new minister responsible for labour. He taps MP William Lyon Mackenzie King for the post.

Of course, it is all by design. Knowing the previous fall that the department would acquire stand-alone status, Mackenzie King stepped down as Deputy Minister of Labour and ran successfully as a Liberal candidate in the federal election of October 26, 1908.

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CampbellSix Prime Ministers did not use their first given names. They were Henry (Wilfrid) Laurier, Joseph (Pierre) Trudeau, Charles (Joe) Clark, Martin (Brian) Mulroney, Avril (Kim) Clark and Joseph (Jean) Chrétien.

William King preferred his third name Mackenzie, while Lester Pearson was more comfortable with the nickname Mike.

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MackenzieNewspaper editors among past PMs were Alexander Mackenzie (Lambton Shield), Mackenzie Bowell (Belleville Intelligencer), Charles Tupper (British Colonist), and Wilfrid Laurier (Le Défricheur).

John A. Macdonald founded the Toronto Mail, William Lyon Mackenzie King edited the government’s Labour Gazette, Pierre Trudeau was heavily involved with Cité libre, Joe Clark wrote for the Albertan and various other publications, and John Turner edited his high school and university papers.

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