Laurier, Sir Wilfrid (1841-1919)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Canada’s first French-Canadian prime minister. In his long period in office, from 1896 to 1911, he oversaw an historic expansion of the Canadian economy accompanied by unprecedented growth in immigration. He was a liberal by instinct and conviction as well as party affiliation and initially he was out of sympathy with the demands for the exclusion of Asian immigrants that came from B.C. But it was his government that at the first sign of popular disturbance introduced the legislation and regulations designed to bar the entry of immigrants from India.

Sources: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. XIV, 1911-1921 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998); Joseph Schull, Laurier. The First Canadian (Toronto: Macmillan, 1965); Mabel Timlin, “Canada’s Immigration Policy, 1896-1910,” The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science,” vol. xxvi no. 1, Nov. 1960.