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Article

Samuel Simpson Sharpe

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Samuel Simpson Sharpe, barrister, politician, soldier (born on 13 March 1873 in Zephyr, Ontario; died 25 May 1918 in Montreal, Quebec). Sharpe was a militia officer and sitting Member of Parliament when he raised the 116th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, and took it overseas. After participating in some of Canada’s bloodiest battles of the war, he was hospitalized for “nervous shock” and returned to Canada. While undergoing treatment, he committed suicide by jumping from a Montreal hospital window.


Article

Tommy Douglas and Eugenics

Tommy Douglas — the father of socialized medicine in Canada and one of the country’s most beloved figures — once supported eugenic policies. In 1933, he received a Master of Arts in sociology from McMaster University for his thesis, “The Problems of the Subnormal Family.” In the thesis, Douglas recommended several eugenic policies, including the sterilization of “mental defectives and those incurably diseased.” His ideas were not unique, as two Canadian provinces (and 32 American states) passed sexual-sterilization legislation in the 1920s and 1930s. However, by the time Douglas became premier of Saskatchewan in 1944, he had abandoned his support for eugenic policies. When Douglas received two reports that recommended legalizing sexual sterilization in the province, he rejected the idea.

Article

Frank McKenna

Frank Joseph McKenna, PC, OC, ONB, lawyer, politician, businessman, diplomat, premier of New Brunswick 1987–97 (born 19 January 1948 in Apohaqui, NB). McKenna became premier in only the second complete election sweep in Canadian history. Once called the "tiny, perfect premier," his decade in office was marked by a heavy focus on job creation. Despite his popularity in Liberal Party circles, he rejected an opportunity to run for the leadership of the federal party, in favour of corporate directorship.

Article

Jean Lesage

Jean Lesage, PC, CC, premier of Québec 1960–1966, politician, reformer, lawyer (born 10 June 1912 in Montréal, QC; died 12 December 1980 in Québec City, QC).

Article

George Brown

George Brown, journalist, politician, senator, cattle breeder (born 29 November 1818 in Alloa, Scotland; died 9 May 1880 in Toronto, ON). George Brown played an instrumental role in Confederation. A Reformer who helped bring responsible government to Upper Canada, he orchestrated the great coalition of 1864, which pushed British North America toward Confederation. He participated in the Charlottetown Conference and the Quebec Conference in 1864 and is considered a Father of Confederation. Brown’s journalistic legacy is also significant. His Globe newspaper ushered in the beginning of Canada’s big newspaper business. The widely read Globe was a vigorous force in Upper Canada politics in the 1850s. Today, it is Canada’s major daily newspaper, the Globe and Mail.

Article

Lincoln Alexander

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, CC, OOnt, QC, lieutenant-governor of Ontario 1985–91, member of Parliament 1968–80, lawyer, public servant (born 21 January 1922 in Toronto, ON; died 19 October 2012 in Hamilton, ON). Alexander was the first Black Canadian member of Parliament (1968), Cabinet minister (1979) and lieutenant-governor (Ontario, 1985). In recognition of his many important accomplishments, 21 January has been celebrated as Lincoln Alexander Day across Canada since 2015.

Article

Barbara Hanley

Barbara McCallum Hanley (née Smith), teacher, politician, Canada’s first female mayor (born 2 March 1882 in Magnetawan, ON; died 26 January 1959 in Sudbury, ON). Hanley was elected mayor of Webbwood on 6 January 1936, becoming the country’s first female mayor. Trained as a teacher, she decided to enter municipal politics in an attempt to improve conditions for the town, which had been hard hit by the Great Depression. Hanley won annual re-election campaigns from 1936 to 1943, and retired as mayor in 1944. A true servant of the public, she sat on many boards and committees throughout her life, including the town ration board during the Second World War.

Article

Harjit Sajjan

Harjit Singh Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, soldier, policeman, politician, Minister of National Defence 2015–21, Minister of International Development 2021–present (born 6 September 1970, in Bombeli, Hoshiarpur, India). Harjit Sajjan enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces at age 19 and joined the Vancouver Police Department in 1999. He served for 11 years and became a detective. He also served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, where he was hailed as Canada’s “best single intelligence asset.” Sajjan rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and became the first Sikh Canadian to command an Armed Forces regiment. He was elected as a Liberal MP for Vancouver South in 2015. He was Minister of National Defence for nearly six years — one of the longest tenures in the country’s history. He has been Minister of International Development since 2021.

Article

John Diefenbaker

John George “Dief the Chief” Diefenbaker, PC, CH, KC, FRSC, prime minister 1957–63, politician, lawyer (born 18 September 1895 in Neustadt, ON; died 16 August 1979 in Ottawa, ON). John Diefenbaker was Canada’s 13th prime minister. He was well known as a defence lawyer before his election to Parliament, and was an eloquent spokesman for “non-establishment” Canada. A supporter of civil rights for all, Diefenbaker championed the Canadian Bill of Rights and the extension of the right to vote to First Nations peoples. He also played an important role in the anti-apartheid statement that led to South Africa’s departure from the Commonwealth in 1961. He was a charismatic and popular speaker; but he was also a divisive force within the Progressive Conservative Party. He was criticized for his indecision concerning nuclear missiles on Canadian soil; for his strained relations with US President John F. Kennedy; and for his cancellation of the Avro Arrow project.

Article

Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Thomas D’Arcy McGee, journalist, politician, poet (born 13 April 1825 in Carlingford, County Louth, Ireland; died 7 April 1868 in Ottawa, ON). Thomas D’Arcy McGee was dedicated to the cause of Irish national liberation. This pushed him towards revolutionary anti-British doctrine in his early years. However, he matured to become a staunch defender of British constitutional monarchy and a Father of Confederation. He was an advocate for minority rights at a time when the politics of ethnic and religious identity were intensely fraught. He was an incredibly eloquent public speaker and a passionate advocate for Canadian interests. However, his political transformation ultimately damaged his popularity with Irish nationalists, particularly the Fenians. He was assassinated in 1868.

Article

John Turner

John Napier Turner, PC, CC; politician, lawyer, prime minister, athlete (born in Richmond, England, 7 June 1929; died 19 September 2020 in Toronto, ON). John Turner is best known for his early political service as federal justice minister (1968–72) and finance minister (1972–75) in the cabinet of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and for the 1988 election battle with Brian Mulroney over free trade. Turner's 11-week term as prime minister in 1984 is the second shortest in Canadian history, after Sir Charles Tupper (10 weeks).

Speech

George Brown: 1865 Speech in Favour of Confederation

George Brown played an instrumental role in establishing Confederation. As leader of the Clear Grits (forerunner of the Liberal Party) in Canada West, he set aside political differences and allied with his Conservative rivals John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier in 1864, with whom he pitched Confederation to the Atlantic colonies at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences. From 3 February to 13 March 1865, politicians in the Province of Canada debated the terms of Confederation, offering some of the most compelling defences and critiques of the union of British North American colonies. In the following speech, delivered before the legislature of the Province of Canada on 8 February 1865, Brown explains his reasons for supporting Confederation.

Macleans

Jack Layton (Profile)

With the minority Liberal government all but sure to fall this week, politicians - not to mention voters - are grimacing at the prospect of a campaign that runs through the holiday season.