Wilfrid Laurier

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The following article was researched and written by Kabir Mann. More contributors.

Significance of Wilfrid Laurier

Wilfred Laurier is seen as a Canadian hero. He has played a great role in shaping our country into what it is today. His accomplishments and beliefs were unparallel to all Prime Ministers of his time. He has various buildings and landmarks named after him; he is also on our nation’s five dollar bill. He has played various roles in our country namely as a leader and as a creator. His numerous contributions have helped to evolve and modernize the governance of our great nation. His foresight helped solidify our country and turned it into one sovereign nation by creating the provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan. With this he also helped increase immigration which has shown to be very beneficial to Canada today. Wilfred Laurier was a great man who had the intent to better Canada, with his attempts to do so, he has helped our nation grow, and his achievement in bringing national unity by proving to Canadians that a French and English Canada is possible his endless efforts have also helped Canada to form into an independent nation. Wilfred Laurier was admired, respected and was a great politician of his time. As Canada’s leader he brought nothing but good to this country, and will forever be a part of our heritage.

Background for Wilfrid Laurier

“Canada has been modest in its history, although its history, in my estimation, is only commencing. It is commencing in this century. The nineteenth century was the century of the United States. I think we can claim that Canada will fill the twentieth century.” (The Canadian Club, 2003). These words, spoken by Sir Wilfrid Laurier help illustrate the passion he had towards the newborn nation of Canada.

As a member of the Liberal party he was elected into office as the Prime Minister of Canada on July 11, 1896 (National Library of Canada, 2003). He remained in that position for the following fifteen years, serving the longest unbroken term during the time. Wilfrid Laurier was born on November 20th, 1841 in St. Lin, Quebec. He studied law at McGill University in Montreal, he graduated in 1864. Roughly seven years later he got into his true destiny; politics, after practicing law and working as editor of a French newspaper previous to that. He started off by being elected to Quebec’s legislature in 1871. He gradually progressed into the House of Commons by 1874. Edward Blake had stepped down as the leader of the Liberal party in 1887; by being voted in, Laurier made history by being the first French Canadian to reach this plateau. Laurier remained the leader of opposition until the July of 1896, when he again made history but this time it was by being the first Francophone Prime Minister of Canada. This is when his legacy began.

As Prime Minister, Laurier contributed a great deal to Canada. He made every decision with one main goal in mind; to improve Canada. He was a man who possessed a great deal of wisdom. In 1903 he decided to extend the transcontinental railway from coast to coast. This change expanded resource based industries and ultimately helped Canada economically. In 1905 Wilfrid Laurier had declared two new provinces in Canada; Alberta and Saskatchewan, this move was beneficial in a few ways. Now Canada had a chain of provinces from coast to coast, and it brought Canada to be a more sovereign nation by uniting it together. Another intention of this move was to promote immigration in which it did succeed and it helped develop agriculture. Laurier was a big supporter of immigration and multiculturalism. Although Great Britain had control of Canada’s foreign affairs in 1909 Laurier formed the external affairs of Canada. This move was vital in the forming an evolution, after this Canada had gained increased control of their own affairs out of the country. This was a positive step into Canada’s eventual independence as a sovereign nation.

Following this development Great Britain was in an arms race with France and Germany, they requested funding from their dominions and in return offered guaranteed protection. The quick thinking Prime Minister swiftly took another route, and proposed the Navy services bill in 1910 (Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 1996:317) which would construct a Canadian Navy. This was another important stepping stone towards independence. This move showed great character, Laurier followed through knowing full well that this could affect his political career but the bill was passed to help Canada become a stronger and more of an independent nation. Laurier worked hard for cooperation between French and English Canadians and made an impact with his efforts. He improved Canada’s economy, strengthened Canada’s relation with the U.S mainly in trade, which today is a huge factor in Canada’s economy.

The increased immigration in Canada which has helped shape Canada’s identity today also vastly improved Canada’s economy in various aspects. Sir Wilfrid Laurier plays an important part in the history of Canada in the roles of a leader, and a creator. In his fifteen years as Prime Minister He lead Canada in the right direction into becoming a sovereign nation, and his attempts to bring French and English Canada had a positive impact on our country. He brought unity and all his actions were beneficial in building Canada both economically and politically.

Due to all his contributions to this great nation he has been acknowledged more than any other Prime Minister. A few examples of this are; Laurier is on the Canadian five dollar bill, there are numerous buildings and a few parks named after him. There is a school board named in his honour. Sir Wilfrid Laurier University is also evidently named in his honour as well. This respect and honour is very much deserved to a man who has done so much for our country. Wilfrid Laurier was a great man with the intent to better Canada. With his accomplishments and attempts he has helped Canada grow. He has made a lasting impact on the political landscape of Canada. He was an admired and respected man who will forever be looked upon as a Canadian political icon.

Bibliography for Wilfrid Laurier

  • Byfield, Ted. “Despair of a Canadianist.” Alberta Report. 07/26/99: page 52.
  • Hancock, Pat. The kids book of Prime Ministers. Toronto: KidsCan Press, 1998.
  • LaPierre, Laurier. Sir Wilfred Laurier: And the Romance of Canada. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1996.
  • Schull, Joseph. Laurier: The first Canadian. Toronto: Macmillian Book, 1965.
  • Sir Wilfred Laurier and The Romance of Canada, History Telvision. VHS. Magic Lantern Video, 1999.