Your Canadian Heritage Minute
John A. Macdonald (1867-1873, 1878-1891)
Alexander Mackenzie (1873-1878)
John Abbott (1891-1892)
John Sparrow David Thompson (1892-1894)
Mackenzie Bowell (1894-1896)
Charles Tupper (1896)
Wilfrid Laurier (1896-1911)
Robert Borden (1911-1920)
Arthur Meighen (1920-1921, 1926)
William Lyon Mackenzie King (1921-1926, 1926-1930, 1935-1948)
R.B. Bennett (1930-1935)
Louis St. Laurent (1948-1957)
John Diefenbaker (1957-1963)
Lester B. Pearson (1963-1968)
Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979, 1980-1984)
Joe Clark (1979-1980)
John Turner (1984)
Brian Mulroney (1984-1993)
Kim Campbell (1993)
Jean Chrétien (1993-2003)
Paul Martin (2003-2006)
Stephen Harper (2006-2015)
Justin Trudeau (2016-Current)
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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(1/24)
Your Canadian Heritage Minute

Since the Constitution Act of 1867, Canada has been led by a Prime Minister. The person who takes the office and responsibility of the nation is, by default, the leader of the majority party sitting in the House of Commons, though there have been a few exceptions. Let’s meet them!

Image: Chris Robert / Unsplash

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
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John A. Macdonald (1867-1873, 1878-1891)

The Great White North’s answer to George Washington, John A. Macdonald was not only the leading figure that ensured Canada was established as a nation in 1867, but he also created one of Canada’s most recognizable symbols: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(3/24)
Alexander Mackenzie (1873-1878)

Alexander Mackenzie was a staunch anti-monarchist. He’s the only one of Canada’s first nine Prime Ministers to reject a knighthood.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(4/24)
John Abbott (1891-1892)

John Abbott was the first Prime Minister to actually be born in Canada, in what was then known as St. Andrews, Lower Canada but what today is Saint-André-d'Argenteuil, Quebec.

Image: Public Domain, Wikipedia

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
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John Sparrow David Thompson (1892-1894)

John Thompson was Canada’s first Catholic Prime Minister, converting to marry his wife. He first declined the premiership in 1891, out of fear of religious prejudice, but finally accepted it in 1982, only to pass away two years later of a heart attack at age 49.

Image: Public Domain, National Archives of Canada

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(6/24)
Mackenzie Bowell (1894-1896)

With the unexpected death of Thompson in 1896, Mackenzie Bowell was appointed by the Governor-General as Prime Minister only because he was the cabinet member with the most seniority at the time. This makes him, along with Abbott, one of the two Canadian PMs to come from the Senate.

Image: Public Domain, Archives of Ontario

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(7/24)
Charles Tupper (1896)

At the time of writing, Charles Tupper has been the oldest Prime Minister of Canada (at the age of 74) and the PM with the shortest premiership, lasting only 69 days.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(8/24)
Wilfrid Laurier (1896-1911)

Known as ‘The Great Conciliator’, Wilfrid Laurier was the first French Canadian to become Prime Minister. He also served as a Member of Parliament for almost 45, a record in the House of Commons.

Image: Public Domain, Baldwin Collection of Canadiana

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(9/24)
Robert Borden (1911-1920)

The Prime Minister who led Canada during the First World War, Robert Borden was the last PM to be born before the Confederation and the last to be knighted.

Image: Public Domain, Smithsonian American Art Museum

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(10/24)
Arthur Meighen (1920-1921, 1926)

Arthur Meighen attended the same college of the University of Toronto around the same time as William Lyon Mackenzie King, they did not get along from the start and became lifelong rivals.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(11/24)
William Lyon Mackenzie King (1921-1926, 1926-1930, 1935-1948)

Between 1921 to his retirement in 1948, William Lyon Mackenzie King (seen here in the Canadian 50 dollar bill) became Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister and the only one to manage three non-consecutive terms to date, for a total of 21 years in power.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(12/24)
R.B. Bennett (1930-1935)

The man behind the creation of the Bank of Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, R. B. Bennett (right) was given a peerage by Winston Churchill in 1941, sitting in the British House of Lords as the 1st Viscount Bennett.

Image: Public Domain, courtesy of Toronto Public Library

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(13/24)
Louis St. Laurent (1948-1957)

The son of a French Canadian father and an Irish mother, Louis St. Laurent was only allowed to speak French to his dad and English to his mom while growing up in Quebec.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(14/24)
John Diefenbaker (1957-1963)

John Diefenbaker (left) was the first PM to appoint a woman to a cabinet position: Ellen Fairclough. Among other posts, Fairclough was Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 1958 to 1962.

Image: Public Domain, White House Archive

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(15/24)
Lester B. Pearson (1963-1968)

A lifelong diplomat and scholar, Lester B. Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis six years before becoming Prime Minister.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(16/24)
Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979, 1980-1984)

Pierre Trudeau was well-known for his relative friendliness to China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. His lifelong friend Fidel Castro even attended his funeral in 2000.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(17/24)
Joe Clark (1979-1980)

Joe Clark has been, to date, the youngest person to become Prime Minister of Canada, taking office the day before his 40th birthday.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(18/24)
John Turner (1984)

John Turner held the Canadian record for the men’s 100-yard dash and qualified for the 1948 London Olympics, but a bad knee kept him from competing.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(19/24)
Brian Mulroney (1984-1993)

The Conservative Brian Mulroney was well-known for his closeness with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Mulroney and Thatcher were the only foreigners to provide a eulogy during Reagan’s funeral in 2004.

Image: Ronald Reagan Library video footage

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(20/24)
Kim Campbell (1993)

The last PM to come from the Progressive Conservative Party, her 132-day premiership marked the first (and so far only) time a woman has been Prime Minister of Canada.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(21/24)
Jean Chrétien (1993-2003)

Jean Chrétien was well known for his peculiar way of talking. When asked in 1997 his thoughts about the police using pepper spray during a protest, the PM apparently didn’t know what pepper spray was and remarked: “For me, pepper, I put on my plate”.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(22/24)
Paul Martin (2003-2006)

Paul Martin contracted polio at the age of 8. His father, Paul Martin Sr., was Health and Wellness Minister at the time and pushed legislation for a nationwide inoculation program that virtually eradicated polio in Canada.

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(23/24)
Stephen Harper (2006-2015)

Stephen Harper is an avid fan of The Beatles. He performed ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ on the piano and provided the lead vocals for a 2008 National Arts Centre Gala along with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. They got a standing ovation.

Image: CBC

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23 facts about Canada’s 23 Prime Ministers
(24/24)
Justin Trudeau (2016-Current)

Justin Trudeau was the first Prime Minister to be a child of a previous PM. Not exactly camera-shy, he starred in the 2007 CBC two-part docuseries ‘The Great War’ as Talbot Papineu, a distant relative of his who fought in the First World War.

Source: Encore+

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