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Sir Wilfrid Laurier National Historic Site of Canada

A Childhood in the Country

Stone church. The former church at Saint-Lin, prior to 1888.
© Collection du presbytère de la paroisse de Saint-Lin

The second child of Carolus Laurier and Marcelle Martineau, Wilfrid Laurier was born in Saint-Lin (today called Laurentides) on November 20, 1841. He grew up in a family where politics was a staple of talk and debate. His father, an educated man having liberal ideas, enjoyed a certain degree of prestige about town. In addition to being a farmer and surveyor, he also occupied such sought-after positions as mayor, justice of the peace, militia lieutenant and school board member.

At the age of 11, Wilfrid left home to study in New Glasgow, a neighbouring town largely inhabited by immigrants from the British Isles. Over the next two years, he had the opportunity of familiarizing himself with the mentality, language and culture of English-speakers. It was a formative experience that later proved invaluable to him upon being elected the first French Canadian Prime Minister of Canada.