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Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Toronto chapter.


When people talk about the reasons that they chose to go to U of T, one of the most popular reasons is that U of T’s reputation is one of the best in the world. This reputation exists because our students and faculty are passionate and intelligent people who work every day to make the world a better place and U of T also has some of the best facilities and resources in the country. All of this is bolstered by the reputations of some of the school’s alumni and the work that they have done. For me, the alumni who I most admire is former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson- someone who I’ve looked up to since I wrote a paper on him in the fifth grade.

Lester Bowles Pearson was born in Newtonbook, Ontario, the son of a Methodist minister. Graduating high school at the age of 16, he was subsequently admitted to Victoria College where he was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity and was noted for his academic prowess in the social sciences. An athlete, Pearson competed in rugby, basketball, baseball and lacrosse and was even a member of the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club while studying abroad. When Pearson later joined the faculty at U of T, he would put these athletic skills to use, becoming the coach of the Varsity Blues men’s hockey team. When World War One started in 1914, he served first as a part of the University of Toronto Hospital Unit and later the Royal Flying Corps. In 1919, he would return to school and receive his BA before obtaining his Master’s from Oxford.

Pearson’s political career began when he was appointed as a diplomat to London and later as an ambassador to the United States where he was a critical part of the founding of the United Nations. It was his work with the United Nations during the Suez Crisis in 1957 that would eventually help him win the Nobel Peace Prize. Pearson also gained prominence as the Secretary of State for External Affairs under Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent. Having won a seat in the riding of Algoma East, Pearson would become the leader of the Liberal Party and the Leader of the Opposition in 1958 before becoming the Prime Minister in 1963 with a minority government. Although he would never lead a majority government, under Pearson’s government the country saw the introduction of universal health care, the Canadian Pension Plan, the 40 hour work week and the Canadian flag. His government would also oversee the Royal Commission on the Status of Women as well as helping to move towards French being named as an official language.

Prime Minister Pearson left Canada with a legacy of peacemaking and social reform that continues to this day and is a legacy that has made him one of Canada’s favourite former Prime Ministers.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_B._Pearson


Natalie has recently completed her second year at the University of Toronto with a double major in History and Ethics, Society, and Law. She is excited to bring Her Campus to U of T and seeing it expand its presence in Canada. She is also active in the school's Model United Nations circles and numerous organizations off campus and is best described as a political and pop culture junkie. Born and raised in Toronto, she is blindingly proud of everything the city has to offer including the best school in the country, no matter what Macleans says, and its sports teams, no matter how many times they may lose or miss the playoffs.