Lester Bowles Pearson was the 14th Prime Minister of Canada. He was born in Toronto, Ontario on April 23, 1897, the son of Edwin Arthur Pearson and Annie Sarah Bowles, and served in the Canadian Army during World War I, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. (Canada did not have an Air Force until 1924.) It was in there he received the nickname "Mike", which would stick with him the rest of his life.
Following the war, Pearson became a history professor at the University of Toronto, and joined the foreign service in 1928. He would be involved in the formation of NATO, and was Canada's ambassador to the first UN assemblies. In 1956 Pearson worked to resolve the Suez Crisis, avoiding a larger conflict through the creation of what would become the United Nations' first peacekeeping force: For this he was awarded the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize.
Pearson was chosen to be the leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada in 1958 and would win the general election of 1963 over John Diefenbaker. In 1965 the Liberals won another minority government, but Pearson had not delivered a majority win. He would step down in April 1968, and was succeeded by Pierre Trudeau. However under Pearson, Canada created an Old Age Pension Program, and adopted National Health Care. The minimum wage was established and he would begin the work towards freer trade with the United States, with the Auto Pact. These were all established without creating a budgetary deficit. Additionally the red and white Maple Leaf flag was adopted and he established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. These last acts were meant to bring Quebec further into Canada, but also was a turning point in the alienation of the western provinces and conservatives.
Pearson passed away in Ottawa on December 27, 1972. The international airport in Toronto is named for Pearson, and the Outstanding Player of the year in the National Hockey League wins the Lester B. Pearson award.
- http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1957/pearson-bio.html Lester Bowles Pearson - Biography
- http://www.cbc.ca/greatest/top_ten/nominee/pearson-lester.html Lester B. Pearson