A childhood in the country
© Collection du presbytère de la paroisse de Saint-Lin
The second child of Carolus Laurier and Marcelle Martineau, Wilfrid Laurier was born in Saint-Lin (today called Laurentides) on November 20, 1841. He grew up in a family where politics was a staple of talk and debate. His father, an educated man having liberal ideas, enjoyed a certain degree of prestige about town. In addition to being a farmer and surveyor, he also occupied such sought-after positions as mayor, justice of the peace, militia lieutenant and school board member.
At the age of 11, Wilfrid left home to study in New Glasgow, a neighbouring town largely inhabited by immigrants from the British Isles. Over the next two years, he had the opportunity of familiarizing himself with the mentality, language and culture of English-speakers. It was a formative experience that later proved invaluable to him upon being elected the first French Canadian Prime Minister of Canada.