Louis Stephen St-Laurent


Louis Stephen St-Laurent Famous memorial

Compton, Estrie Region, Quebec, Canada
Death 25 Jul 1973 (aged 91)
Quebec, Capitale-Nationale Region, Quebec, Canada
Burial Compton, Estrie Region, Quebec, Canada
Memorial ID 2557 View Source

12th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in this capacity from 1948 to 1957 as a Liberal from the Canadian province of Quebec. Additionally, he served as Minister of Justice from 1941 to 1946, Minister of External Affairs from 1946 to 1948, Leader of the Liberal Party from 1948 to 1957, and member of the House of Commons from 1942 to 1958. His father was a shopkeeper and of French ancestry and his mother came from Irish stock. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from St. Charles Seminary and a Bachelor of Civil Law from the Universite Laval at Quebec City in Quebec in 1905. He was offered, but declined, a Rhodes Scholarship upon this graduation from Laval. He worked as a lawyer from 1905 to 1941, also becoming a professor of law at the Universite Laval in 1914 and served as President of the Canadian Bar Association from 1930 to 1932. He became one of Quebec's leading lawyers and was so highly regarded that he was offered a position in the Cabinet of the Conservative Prime Minister Arthur Meighen in 1926 and was offered a seat as a justice in the Supreme Court of Canada. In December 1941, at almost the age of 60, he entered politics when Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King recruited him to his World War II cabinet as Minister of Justice. He agreed out of a sense of duty, but only on the understanding that his venture into politics was temporary and that he would return to Quebec at the conclusion of World War II. In February 1942, he won a by-election for Quebec East. He supported King's decision to introduce conscription in 1944, despite the lack of support from other French Canadians, and his support prevented more than a handful of Quebec Liberal Members of Parliament from leaving the party and was crucial to keeping the government and the party united. In 1945 King persuaded him to remain in government following the war in order to help with the construction of a post war international order and promoted him to the position of Secretary of State for External Affairs (or foreign minister), a portfolio King had previously always kept for himself. In this role, he represented Canada at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in Washington DC and the San Francisco Conference that led to the founding of the United Nations (UN). He believed strongly that the UN would be ineffective in times of war and armed conflict without some military means to impose its will, and advocated the adoption of a UN military force, to be used in situations that called for both tact and might to preserve peace or prevent combat. In 1956, this idea was actualized by him and his Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson in the development of UN Peacekeepers that helped to put an end to the Suez Crisis. In 1948 King retired and recommended him as the new leader of the Liberal Party and In November of that year, he became Prime Minister, making him Canada's second French-Canadian Prime Minister, after Wilfrid Laurier. In the 1949 and 1953 general elections, his party achieved a vast and powerful majority, enabling them to dominate the Canadian House of Commons. He and his cabinet oversaw Canada's expanding international role in the postwar world and his desire was for Canada to occupy a social, military and economic 'middle power' role in the post-World War II world. Militarily, he was a leading proponent of the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, serving as an architect and signatory of the treaty document. Involvement in such an organization marked a departure from King who had been reticent about joining a military alliance. Under his leadership, Canada supported the UN in the Korean War and committed the third largest overall contribution of troops, ships and aircraft to the UN forces during the conflict. Canadian troops to Korea were selected on a voluntary basis. He was an early supporter of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee's proposal to transform the British Commonwealth from a club of white dominions into a multi-racial partnership. In 1949 he ended the practice of appealing Canadian legal cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain, making the Supreme Court of Canada the highest avenue of legal appeal available to Canadians. In that same year, he negotiated the British North America (No. 2) Act, 1949 with Britain which "partially patriated" the Canadian Constitution, most significantly giving the Canadian Parliament the authority to amend portions of the constitution. Also in 1949, following two referenda within the province, he and Premier Joey Smallwood negotiated the entry of Newfoundland into Confederation. On the international side, he drafted the London Declaration in 1949, recognizing British King George VI as Head of the Commonwealth as a means of allowing India to remain in the international association once it became a republic. On the domestic side, he oversaw the expansion of Canada's social programs, including the gradual expansion of social welfare programs such as family allowances, old age pensions, government funding of university and post-secondary education and an early form of Medicare termed Hospital Insurance at the time. By 1963 nearly all Canadians were covered by Hospital Insurance. During his last term as Prime Minister, he used $100 million in death taxes to establish the Canada Council to support research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Additionally, he modernized and established new social and industrial policies for the country by normalizing old-age pensions for all Canadians aged seventy and above (1951), the introduction of old age assistance for needy Canadians aged sixty-five and above (1951), the introduction of allowances for the blind (1951) and the disabled (1954), amendments to the National Housing Act (1954) which provided federal government financing to non-profit organizations as well as the provinces for the renovation or construction of hostels or housing for students, the disabled, the elderly, and families on low incomes, and unemployment assistance (1956) for unemployed persons on welfare who had exhausted (or did not qualify for) unemployment insurance benefits. Other public works projects undertaken during his tenure a Prime Minister included the Trans-Canada Highway (1949), the St. Lawrence Seaway (1954) and the Trans-Canada Pipeline (1956). It was this last project that was to sow the seeds that led to the downfall of his Liberal government in 1957 at the hands of Conservative John Diefenbaker. After his defeat, he retired from politics and returned to his law practice. In 1967 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada. He died from natural causes at the age of 91. A statue dedicated to his honor resides on the grounds of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Canadian Coast Guard Heavy Arctic Icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is named in his honor.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



How famous was Louis Stephen St-Laurent?

Current rating:

38 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 2557
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Louis Stephen St-Laurent (1 Feb 1882–25 Jul 1973), Find a Grave Memorial ID 2557, citing Cimetière Saint-Thomas d'Aquin, Compton, Estrie Region, Quebec, Canada ; Maintained by Find a Grave .