Sir Wilfred Laurier: Canada’s First Modern Prime Minister
Hettie Bartlette, the main character in my novel Angel of Mercy, was born in Ontario in 1892. Despite being 27 at the end of the third novel in the series, Adjustment Year, she has memories of only two prime ministers.
Laurier was Canada’s seventh prime minister, taking office in 1896 when Hettie was four years old. Four other men had served in the role since Hettie’s birth: John Abbott (1891-1892), Sir John Thompson (1892-1894), Sir Mackenzie Bowell (1894-1896), and Sir Charles Tupper (1896).
Laurier was born in modern-day Quebec and entered politics in 1871 after earning a law degree. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1874 and served until his death in February 1919. In 1887, he became leader of the Liberal Party.
Educated both in French- and English-speaking Canada, Laurier advocated unity. However, he was sometimes criticized by French-Canadians for being too English and by English-Canadians for being too French.
His slogan was “The twentieth century belongs to Canada.” However, it was modernization that brought an end to his time as prime minister. The Liberals lost the 1911 federal election to the Conservatives over the issue of trade with the United States.
Here are some of Laurier’s accomplishments during his 15 year term:
- Saskatchewan and Alberta entered into Confederation after policies that encouraged settlement of the west.
- More railroads were built uniting both coasts.
- Strongly defended Canadian autonomy.
- Signed legislation creating the Canadian Navy.
During World War I, Laurier opposed Canadian involvement. This led to a temporary split in the Liberal Party during the 1917 federal election. The majority of the party joined the Conservatives to form the Unionists, supporting military conscription. Laurier Liberals, however, opposed conscription.
In the end, conscription backfired on its supporters. After the war, the Liberals were the ruling party for most of the years 1921-1957.
Where to Purchase the WWI Trilogy
This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy: Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year. The trilogy focuses on Hettie and her family as they navigate the challenges and heartbreak World War I brings.
Angel of Mercy: A nurse reluctantly sacrifices her career for marriage. An impending war will change her, and her husband’s, life forever. Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover. Click here for a full list of retailers.
Those Left Behind: The brewing winds of war will soon rip the family apart. Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover. Click here for a full list of retailers.
Adjustment Year: A war nurse returns home. Society expects her to carry on as if the Great War never happened. But how can she? Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover. Click here for a full list of retailers.