Louis St. Laurent
"He had as fine an intelligence as was ever applied to the problems of government in Canada. He left it a richer, a more generous and more united country than it had been before he became Prime Minister." - J.W. Pickersgill
Ours is a school where academic excellence, service to others, and the development of young, model Canadians is a constant pursuit. To personify these attributes, and to honour a like-minded individual as our namesake, we need not scour the historical record, nor look to distant lands. We look to one of our own, a Canadian. We look to a gentleman, a scholar, and a servant of his country, the Right Honourable Louis St. Laurent, 12th Prime Minister of Canada.
Growing up fluently bilingual, Louis St. Laurent gained an early appreciation of the two founding cultures of Canada. With a French-Canadian father and Irish mother, and being raised in late 19th century rural Quebec, a firm sense of identity was inculcated. The values and encouragement of his Roman Catholic family led this young scholar to University where he received a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Civil Law.
It was the Law with which he had become enamored, and having declined a Rhodes Scholarship, he was called to the Quebec Bar in 1905. Practicing the Law, he later became a Professor. As one of the most respected counsels in Canada, he soon found himself President of the Canadian Bar Association. It would not be the last time he was a national leader.
Choosing to further his career and spend time with his wife and family, Louis St. Laurent did not pursue politics. However, politics pursued him. As his reputation for excellence grew, it became known that he was being courted by nation political parties. Following the death of the incumbent, and during the dark days of World War II, Louis responded positively to an invitation by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King to become the Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Now a member of the Cabinet, he was again on a national stage, in a portfolio ideally suited to his legal talents. He was 60 years old, three years away from being promoted to Secretary of State for External Affairs and six years from the time he would become Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister of Canada. Excellence, hard work and humility have a tendency to light a torch for all to see, for all to follow.
Mr. St. Laurent's service in the Federal Government was highlighted by laws, policies and initiatives that enabled people to live in peace, increasing their quality of life. Ascribing to measures that displayed fiscal conservatism, yet being socially progressive, his tenure was marked by good financial stewardship and social programs that helped people. During the heady days of post-war Canada, the Prime Minister led initiatives to build the Trans-Canada Highway, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Trans-Canada Pipeline. He negotiated with representatives of Newfoundland, to make that country a part of Canada. He supported the arts, reforms to health insurance, and pensions. He modernized equalization payments in Canada, striving to create a common standard of service from sea to sea to sea. Much was accomplished by a government led by a pragmatic, calm, rational man grounded in compassion. Canada matured.
Louis St. Laurent was leader of the Liberal Party when it was defeated in the general election of 1957. The country was ready for a change, a new direction. The former Prime Minister was ready for a quiet retirement, spending time with his family and friends. It was a time or rest, for a good and faithful servant.
Canada's 12th Prime Minister died in 1973 at the age of 91. He is buried in his hometown of Compton, Quebec. As his namesake school, we endeavour to keep alive the values of good citizenship he embodied.
Term as Prime Minister: 1948 - 1957
Birth: February 01, 1882 in Compton, Quebec
Death: July 25, 1973 in Quebec City, Quebec
Political Affiliation: Liberal
Riding: Quebec East
Highlights of Term as Prime Minister:
Newfoundland joined Canada 1949
Trans-Canada Highway Act 1949
Canada was a founding member of NATO 1949
Canada contributed troops to UN force in Korea 1950 � 1953
Canada played a role in resolving Suez Crisis 1956
St. Lawrence Seaway started construction 1954
Introduced equalization payments to distribute federal taxes to provincial governments 1956
Introduced universal old age pensions
Provided funds for hospital insurance
Created Canada Council 1956
BA - St. Charles Seminary, Sherbrooke, Quebec
LL.L - Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec
Corporate and constitutional lawyer
President of the Canadian Bar Association 1930- 1932
Counsel, Rowell-Sirois Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relation
Political Career of Louis St. Laurent:
In 1941 at the request of Mackenzie King, Louis agreed to be Minister of Justice until World War II was over.
First elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in 1942
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada 1941 - 1946, 1948
Secretary of State for External Affairs 1946 -1948
Elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada 1948
St. Laurent was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada 1948
Liberals won general elections of 1949 and 1953
Leader of the Opposition 1957 - 1958
Louis St. Laurent resigned as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada