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John Robarts

John Robarts (January 11, 1917 to October 18, 1982) was a Canadian lawyer and statesman.

The Hon. John Robarts
Term of Office:November 8, 1961 - March 1, 1971
Predecessor:Leslie Frost
Successor:William Davis
Date of Birth:1917
Place of Birth:Banff, Alberta
Political Party:PC

Born John Parmenter Robarts in 1917 in Banff, Alberta, Canada. As a young man, he moved to London, Ontario with his family, where he would study at Central Collegiate and the University of Western Ontario.

He enrolled at Osgoode Hall to study law, but his education was interrupted by service with the Royal Canadian Navy during the World War II. After the war, he returned to university, graduating in 1948.

He practised law in London, Ontario, and was elected a city alderman. In 1951 he was elected as a Ontario Progressive Conservative Party member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament. In 1961 he became the 17th premier of Ontario, serving in that capacity until 1971. A popular leader, Robarts epitomized power and dignity. As a staunch conservative, he was an advocate of individual freedoms and opposed to centralist initiatives of the federal government. He initially opposed Canadian Medicare when it was proposed but later endorsed it fully. As a civil libertarian, and a strong believer in the promotion of both official languages, he opened the door to French education in Ontario schools.

Remembered for his steps to promote and improve education, he was responsible for the construction of York University, the Ontario Science Centre, the expansion of numerous teacher colleges, and launching the Ontario Scholarship fund.

After retiring from office, John Robarts co-chaired the Task Force on Canadian Unity with Jean-Luc Pépin before joining the board of directors of several major corporations.

Later in his life, he suffered a series of debilitating strokes and took his own life on October 18, 1982. The John P. Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario was officially opened in 1986. The 14-storey John P. Robarts library at the University of Toronto is also named in his honour.

Preceded by:
Leslie Frost
List of Ontario premiers Succeeded by:
William Davis