This Week in History
They called him "Uncle Louis"
For the week of Monday November 14, 2005
On November 15, 1948, Louis Stephen St. Laurent became Canada’s 12th Prime Minister, despite Liberal Party concerns that his quiet reserve and regal manner might turn off Canadians. However, during the 1949 general election he surprised everyone with his "common touch" and his calm rapport with young people. He even invited the media into his home and posed for photos with his grandchildren, a first for a sitting prime minister. The image of "Uncle Louis" was born, and the election victory was assured.
As justice minister, St. Laurent was responsible for several initiatives including the controversial Conscription Bill (1944), where his staunch support prevented the collapse of King’s government and the war effort. As external affairs minister, St. Laurent formulated a unique Canadian foreign policy simply based on a respect for all nations. Through active membership in the British Commonwealth, NATO and the UN, he promoted Canada’s middle power and mediator status. St. Laurent was the first advocate of a permanent UN peacekeeping force, supported Canada’s role in the Korean War (1950-53) and actively supported External Affairs Minister Lester B. Pearson’s successful effort to deploy the first UN peacekeeping force to mediate the 1956 Suez Canal crisis.
For his vital role in building Canadian unity and his promotion of a unique and autonomous Canadian international identity, Louis Stephen St. Laurent was designated a National Historic Person in 1973.
For additional information on Louis St. Laurent’s early years, please visit The Louis S. St. Laurent National Historic Site.
- Date Modified: