Spotlight on the National Collection: Celebrating the Legacy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Éliane Laberge

Have you ever heard it said that “the 20th century belongs to Canada”? Did you know that Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841–1919), Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, coined these famous words in 1904, when the Canadian economy was finally booming after many years of stagnation?

Laurier left an undeniable imprint on the history of Canada — a legacy that lives on to this day. In fact, Canadians are reminded of his importance every time they glance at the portrait on our $5 bill.

As Canada’s first francophone Prime Minister, Laurier can be credited with many things. He helped consolidate Confederation by encouraging compromises between French and English Canadians over language issues in education. He helped create the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. He supported the construction of two transcontinental railways, stimulating massive immigration — particularly to the Western provinces. He also helped define the extent of Canada’s military commitments to the British Empire.

The Museum houses many artifacts related to Sir Wilfrid Laurier in its National Collection. To mark the anniversary of his birth on November 20, we’ve put together a photo gallery of objects and documents from the collection that speak to his legacy.

Why not pick a favourite and tell us why?