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Lester Bowles Pearson

Lester Bowles Pearson
Date of Birth:April 23, 1897
Place of Birth:Newtonbrook, Ontario
Spouse:Maryon Moody
Political Party:Liberal

Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson (April 23, 1897 - December 27, 1972) was the fourteenth Prime Minister of Canada from April 22, 1963 to April 20, 1968.

He was born in Newtonbrook, Ontario, the son of a Methodist preacher. He entered Victoria College at the University of Toronto in 1914, where he lived in residence in Gate House and shared a room with his brother Duke. While at the university he became a noted athlete excelling at both ice hockey and rugby. His studies were interrupted, however, when in 1916 he decided to enlist in the Canadian air force and fight in the First World War. After the war, he returned to school receiving his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1919. He went on to Oxford University, where he received a B.A. in modern history in 1923 and an M.A. in 1925. In 1925 he also married Maryon Moody (1902-1991), with whom he had one daughter and one son.

After Oxford he returned to Canada and taught history at the University of Toronto before embarking on a career with foreign affairs. He eventually ran for office and was made Foreign Minister in the government of Louis St. Laurent. In 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in defusing the Suez Crisis through the United Nations. The United Nations Peacekeeping Force was Pearson's creation.

He was elected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in 1958 and was elected Prime Minister in 1963. Pearson never had a secure majority in Parliament, but he introduced important social programs, the maple leaf flag, new initiatives in French-English relations, the introduction of universal health care, and the Canada Pension Plan. He also oversaw Canada's 1967 centennial celebrations before retiring.

Pearson died in Ottawa on December 27, 1972 and was buried in the nearby Gatineau Hills in the MacLaren Cemetery, Wakefield, Quebec. His successor Pierre Elliott Trudeau renamed Toronto International Airport in Toronto, Ontario to Pearson International Airport in his honor.

Pearson is also honored by a United World College, the Lester B. Pearson College in Victoria, British Columbia, the Lester B. Pearson Schoolboard in Montreal, and the National Hockey League's Lester B. Pearson Award to the most valuable player as judged by his peers.

Preceded by:
John Diefenbaker
Prime Minister of Canada Followed by:
Pierre Trudeau