Biographies

Biography of Laurier, Wilfrid, Sir, 1841-1919

Wilfrid Laurier was born in 1841 in Saint-Lin, Lower Canada. He obtained a law degree from McGill and was called to the Quebec bar in 1864, about the same time he became involved with the “Rouge” or Liberal party. He practiced law over a 30-year period and was involved in journalism. In 1871 he entered the political arena, winning a seat in the Quebec legislature. He was among the founders of the short-lived Parti National. In the wake of the Pacific Scandal, Laurier resigned his provincial seat and ran in the federal election of 1874, where he was elected MP for Drummond and Athabaska. Recognized as a leader for Quebec Liberals, he was named Minister of Inland Revenue in the Mackenzie cabinet in 1877. When Macdonald’s Conservatives came back to power the following year, Laurier took to the sidelines, but came to the fore in 1885 to criticize Macdonald whom he held responsible for the North-West Rebellion. Laurier succeeded Edward Blake as Liberal party leader in 1887. When Manitoba’s Liberal government abolished official bilingualism and the province’s denominational school system, Laurier believed that the courts should settle the matter. By the time he led the Liberals to power in 1986, however, London’s Privy Council had decided that Ottawa did have the right to remedy the injustice caused by the 1890 legislation. His solution to the Manitoba School Question was a compromise in the form of a pact between the Federal and Manitoba governments, which, while not restoring separate schools, allowed for religious instruction after school hours and instruction in a language other than English under specific circumstances. The Laurier administration ran for four successive terms. Defeated in 1911 and divided on the conscription issue, the Liberals were not to resurface before their leader’s death in January 1919.

Mentioned in:

correspondence

  1. Letter and questionnaire of 10 June 1914 from Legislative Committee of Orange Lodge to F. J. Dixon with Dixon's answers to the questionnaire
  2. Mémoire confidentiel du 26 février 1908 de Louis Philippe Adélard Langevin concernant la question des écoles au Manitoba, extrait
  3. Letter of 7 March 1905 from Wilfrid Laurier to Rev. George Bryce
  4. Letter of 25 February 1909 from Wilfrid Lauirer to Rev. George Bryce

publications

  1. "The Manitoba Danger Signal" in Catholic Register, 26 November 1896
  2. "The Manitoba Schools" in Globe, 24 October 1896
  3. "The School Settlement Apparently Less Satisfactory than Ever" in The Mail, 25 November 1896
  4. "Flocking to Rome" in Winnipeg Telegraph 12 September 1896

records

  1. An open letter to Conservaties everywhere 1896
Digital Resources on Manitoba History