Editors are currently working on a special publication to celebrate Canada 150. It will be published by Northern Life just in time for Canada Day. In the course of researching, we came across many interesting stories about Sudbury and Northern Ontario. For example, Canada has had 23 prime ministers in 150 years, but only one has represented a riding in Northern Ontario.
Lester B. Pearson, who was prime minister from 1963 to 1968, represented Algoma East, which included Manitoulin Island, for 20 years. He was the last person to represent the riding which was later redistributed between Algoma, Nickel Belt, and Timmins-Chapleau.
This summer the Old Mill Heritage Centre in Kagawong will feature an exhibit about Pearson and will display many of his personal artifacts including a replica of his Nobel Peace Prize won in 1957 for his efforts to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis.
Pearson, a career diplomat, was appointed Secretary of State for External Affairs in 1948 and he needed to win a safe “Liberal” seat, A parachute Liberal candidate from southern Ontario, he was first elected in a byelection in Algoma East in 1948. He was leader of the Liberal Party from 1958 to 1968, when he was replaced by Pierre Elliot Trudeau. From 1969 until his death in 1972, he was chancellor of Carleton University.
Pearson is remembered by history for many things including being the “father” of the Canadian flag.
The Pearson Collection was once showcased with prominence at Laurier House. However, Old Mill Heritage Centre curator Rick Nelson discovered that in 2014 the artifacts had been unceremoniously packed up, crated and shipped over to the National Archives. With the help of the Pearson family, he convinced the Archives to send some items to his museum and they will be on exhibit from May until October.
Nelson says this venture is an expensive one. Several alterations to the museum costing thousands of dollars were required before the artifacts could be received. Transportation from is several thousand dollars more. A GoFundMe account has been set up and the museum welcomes any help. Here is the link to the GoFundMe account: www.gofundme.com/lester-b-pearson-and-canadian-flag.
A special public event has been scheduled in Kagawong for Aug.10 to celebrate the life and times of Pearson and his connection to Manitoulin Island. It’s called History Day in Kagawong. Members of the Pearson family have been invited to attend a public forum and his granddaughter, Patricia, will be making a presentation.
The museum will be open daily this summer from 10 am to 4 pm at 15 Old Mill Rd. in Kagawong. Check out the website at kagawongmuseum.ca