Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent

St. Laurent Led Canada in the Prosperous Post-War Years

Louis St. Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada (R), With Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Louis St.-Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada (R), With Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. St. Laurent, Louis / Library and Archives Canada / PA-123994

Fluently bilingual, with an Irish mother and a Québécois father, Louis St. Laurent was an apolitical lawyer when he went to Ottawa in 1941 to be Minister of Justice and Mackenzie King's Quebec lieutenant "temporarily" until the end of the war. St. Laurent did not retire from politics until 1958.

The post-war years were prosperous in Canada, and Louis St. Laurent expanded social programs and began many mega-projects. While the influence of Britain on Canada was gradually decreasing, the influence of the United States on Canada grew.

Prime Minister of Canada


Highlights as Prime Minister

  • Newfoundland joined Canada 1949 (see Joey Smallwood)
  • Trans-Canada Highway Act 1949
  • Canada was a founding member of NATO 1949
  • Canada contributed troops to the UN force in Korea from 1950 to 1953. More than 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War and 516 died.
  • Canada played a role in resolving Suez Crisis 1956
  • St. Lawrence Seaway started construction 1954
  • Introduced equalization payments to distribute federal taxes to provincial governments 1956
  • Introduced universal old age pensions
  • Provided funds for hospital insurance
  • Created Canada Council 1956

Birth and Death

  • Born on February 1, 1882, in Compton, Ontario
  • Died on July 25, 1973, in Quebec City, Quebec


  • BA - St. Charles Seminary, Sherbrooke, Quebec
  • LL.L - Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec

Professional Background

  • Corporate and constitutional lawyer
  • Law professor
  • President of the Canadian Bar Association 1930-32
  • Counsel, Rowell-Sirois Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations

Political Affiliation

Liberal Party of Canada

Riding (Electoral District)

Quebec East

Political Career of Louis St. Laurent

In 1941, at the age of 59 and at the request of Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent agreed to be Minister of Justice until World War II was over.

Louis St. Laurent was first elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in 1942.

He was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada from 1941 to 1946 and again in 1948, and Secretary of State for External Affairs from 1946 to 1948.

He was elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in 1948.

In 1948, Louis St. Laurent was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada.

The Liberals won the general elections of 1949 and 1953.

The Liberals lost the general election in 1957 and Louis St. Laurent became Leader of the Opposition. John Diefenbaker became Prime Minister.

Louis St. Laurent resigned as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in 1958.

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Your Citation
Munroe, Susan. "Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Munroe, Susan. (2020, August 25). Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent. Retrieved from Munroe, Susan. "Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 26, 2021).