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Posts Tagged ‘Louis St. Laurent’

feb01 1882: Louis St. Laurent becomes the first child born to Compton merchant Jean-Baptiste-Moise St. Laurent and his Irish wife Mary Ann. In time, he would share the Eastern Townships household with three sisters and two brothers.

It isn’t until Louis starts attending the village’s Catholic school that he realizes not all children speak French to their fathers and English to their mothers. That ability with both languages will help to propel his law career beyond Quebec.

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The mansion at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa would stand for 80 years before becoming the official residence of the Prime Minister. However, when it was built in 1868, one of its first visitors was Sir John A. Macdonald, the first PM. The owner, successful lumber baron Joseph Currier, built the house for his wife and soon after celebrated the occasion by hosting a large reception for 500. Among the guests were Sir John and Lady Macdonald.

The government expropriated the house in the 1940s (to prevent the riverfront property from falling into commercial hands) and eventually made it the official residence of the Prime Minister. Louis St. Laurent became the first PM to occupy the house, in 1951. Since then, every PM, except Kim Campbell, has lived in the house. Campbell lived at Harrington Lake for the summer of 1993 while the Mulroneys remained on Sussex Drive until their home renovations in Montreal were complete. By then, Campbell was no longer PM.

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There have been eight.

Since the creation of the Order of Canada on July 1, 1967, only two former Prime Ministers have not received it. John Diefenbaker was still an MP at the time of his death in 1979; sitting politicians are ineligible for the honour. Paul Martin stepped down as an MP in 2008; presumably he’ll receive the recognition in the next few years. His father was made a Companion of the Order in 1976.

For the record, PM Companions have been Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell and Jean Chretien.

Interesting side note: Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party and a sitting politician, belongs to the Order. She received the honour before entering politics.

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Realistically, there were eight. Four of them were francophones: Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Louis St. Laurent, Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien. Four were English: Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper.

The PM with the broadest facility for languages was English-speaking Sir Robert Borden who had a working knowledge of French, German, Greek and Latin.

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Five of the seven Prime Ministers still living are Roman Catholics. Although, historically, most Catholic leaders tended to be French Canadians, that profile began to disappear by the late 1970s. Of the five living Catholic PMs — Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin — only one is French Canadian.

For the record, we have had 9 Roman Catholics (the others are Thompson, Laurier, St. Laurent, Trudeau), 4 Anglicans (Abbott, Tupper, Borden, Campbell), 3 Presbyterians (Macdonald, Meighen, King), 3 Methodists/Uniteds (Bowell, Bennett, Pearson), 2 Baptists (Mackenzie, Diefenbaker), and 1 Christian & Missionary Alliance (Harper) in the Prime Minister’s office.

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Interested in being the Canadian Prime Minister? Consider becoming a lawyer. That’s the exactly the kind of job training two-thirds of the country’s leaders had prior to their shift into politics. Prime Ministers called to the bar were Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir John Abbott, Sir John Thompson, Sir WIlfrid Laurier, Sir Robert Borden, Arthur Meighen, R.B. Bennett, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Jean Chretien, and Paul Martin.

All five Prime Ministers named John were lawyers.

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Seven of Canada’s 22 Prime Ministers have represented Quebec while leading the country (Abbott, Laurier, St. Laurent, Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and Martin), making it the most fertile ground for leaders since Confederation.

Three provinces have had no Prime Ministers serving in Ottawa (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland), although King was a PEI  MP before becoming PM. None of the territories have been represented by the country’s leader.

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