W3740 | Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir Wilfrid Laurier
John Wycliffe Lewis Forster
1896-1911, 19th century or 20th century
59 x 44 cm
John Clarence Webster Canadiana Collection
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

In the early 1900s, the Maritime Provinces witnessed a decline in their political power at the federal level. This loss of influence in Ottawa was partially offset by the appointment of powerful cabinet ministers from the Maritimes. New Brunswicker Andrew Blair (1844-1907) held the post of minister of railways and canals. Blair remained an ardent defender of his home province as he supervised the development of the Intercolonial Railway. Unfortunately, Blair's plans were scuttled when Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) announced his intention to extend the transcontinental railway to Moncton. Blair resigned in protest in 1903. The following year, Laurier's new railway policy went ahead without Blair.

Also in the realm of provincial-federal relations, New Brunswick and the other Maritime Provinces had long felt that the financial arrangements of Confederation were disadvantageous to them. As the national economy boomed with the expansion of the West, the Maritimes became even more economically frustrated.

  • What

    Prime Minister Laurier was noted for his ability to produce workable compromises and to balance competing political interests.

  • Where

    Born in the province of Quebec, Wilfrid Laurier became the first French-Canadian prime minister of Canada.

  • When

    Wilfrid Laurier was the leader of the federal Liberal party for 32 years. He served as leader of the opposition and as prime minister (1896-1911).

  • Who

    John Wycliffe Lowes Forster (1850-1938), who painted this work, was born in Norval, Ontario, and studied art in England and Europe before establishing a permanent studio in Toronto in 1883.