Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day

November 20th, 2013 by Abhi Saini

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day is observed on November 20th each year in Canada.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier served as the Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911 and is one of the most prominent and respected figures in Canadian history.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

This week’s blog is dedicated to Laurier’s legacy and discusses some key facts and accomplishments from his life and political career:

  • Laurier was born on November 20th, 1841 in the village of Saint-Lin, Quebec. 
  • He obtained a degree in Law from McGill University in 1864 and served as the editor of a small newspaper called Le Défricheur in L’Avenir early in his career.
  • He was elected and served as alderman, mayor and county warden in Arthabaska Regional County.
  • Laurier was elected to represent the provincial riding of Drummond-Arthabaska in 1871. Laurier resigned in 1874 to enter federal politics.
  • Laurier was elected to the House of Commons in 1874 and was appointed as the Minister of Inland Revenue in the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie.
  • Laurier was chosen as the leader of the Liberal Party in 1887 and became the first francophone prime minister of Canada after winning the 1896 election.
  • In 1897, Laurier received his knighthood during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
  • After reaching a compromise with Great Britain during 1899, he made the controversial decision to send a volunteer battalion to fight in South Africa’s Second Anglo-Boer war. More than 7,000 Canadians served during the war. 
  • Laurier’s time as prime minister saw increased immigration, increase settlement of the West, and the beginning of the construction of a second transcontinental railway. By the end of his term, Canada witnessed a population growth of 2 million.
  • In 1905, Laurier established the two new provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
  • In 1910, Laurier proposed the Naval Service Act and upon the bill’s approval, he formally established the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • Laurier passed away on February 17th, 1919 at the age of 71.
  • Nine elementary and secondary schools are named after Laurier, as well as Wilfrid Laurier University.
  • Laurier is currently depicted on the five dollar bill.

Laurier dedicated his life towards maintaining unity between French and English Canada and his future-oriented vision initiated the development and settlement of western Canada. It has been said that Laurier helped usher Canada into the 20th century during his fifteen years in office as prime minister.

To read more about Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his legacy, you can visit the Canada’s History website or the Quebec Heritage website.

Click here to take a virtual tour of Laurier House in Ottawa, which was home to two Canadian prime ministers: Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Posted in Famous Canadians in Democracy, Special Events |

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