Wilfrid, a Man of Courage, a First Great Canadian
In many cities across Canada, there is a street, university, bridge, concert hall, park and even a shopping mall named after Laurier. Every day, many Canadians handle five-dollar bills with his effigy, but few are able to name any of this great statesman’s accomplishments.
Yet Wilfrid Laurier is regarded as the father of modern Canada. A visionary leader for his country, he so strongly shaped his era that even today we benefit from the decisions that he made with conviction and principle when he was the Prime Minister of Canada.
He was a tactful individual, known for his courage and perseverance in the face of adversity. His education, family values and entourage greatly influenced the man of conviction that he would become. His life path, from his childhood and years spent at boarding school, to his skill as a lawyer, made him the politician that he would become: a man with an open mind, guided by his vision of the Canada of the future.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Canada was a place of change. Through many unifying projects, Laurier led the country towards modernity. He headed the Liberal Party of Canada for 32 years and was the country’s Prime Minister for 15 consecutive years. During all these years, Laurier respected the intent of Confederation, adapting to the challenges of his era. At the origin of the Grand Trunk Railway and the integration of Saskatchewan and Alberta into Confederation, Laurier also spearheaded major debates on the place of French in education and the negotiation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States. Despite illness, he persisted in keeping the promises he made to his electors and in achieving his goals.
History remembers Wilfrid Laurier as a man of compromise who always sought to satisfy the majority without frustrating the minority. He dedicated his life, until his final hours, to his passion for federal politics.
Wilfrid Laurier mentioned one day that the twentieth century would be Canada’s century. Without knowing it, he would be a great builder of this modern Canada.