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Lester B. Pearson, the 14th Prime Minister of Canada Essay (Biography)

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2022


Lester Pearson was a former prime minister of Canada. His life was coupled by success and achievements that were not only recognized in Canada but also in the entire world. Among the achievements of Pearson include academic achievements that earned him recognition in the diplomatic world.

He was also a statesman and Nobel peace prize winner. This paper seeks to discuss the achievements, both as an individual and as a leader, of Lester Pearson that qualifies him to be considered as a hero in the publications of History-Dominion Institute. The paper will look into the life of Lester Pearson. It will also discuss the various achievements of Pearson in academic, political and international arena.

Lester Pearson

Lester Bowles Pearson a diplomat and political leader was born in the year 1897 in Ontario. His father was a devoted Christian who ministered in a Methodist church. Pearson together with his brothers received their early education from the towns of Ontario such as Peterborough and Aurora among others.

He then joined the University of Toronto for his undergraduate in Bachelor of Arts. Pearson was at the university between the years 1913 and 1915 before he joined a Salonika military service as a medical orderly. Two years later, Pearson sought and succeeded to get a transfer to Hendon to study. During his time of training in an air school, Lester was involved in a plane crash though he escaped unhurt.

Another accident was to surprise him later in London when he was hit by a vehicle during a power failure. The car accident led to his return to Canada after which he continued with his university education. After his first degree from the University of Toronto, Pearson moved to Chicago where he worked in two companies, a meat factory and a fertilizer firm. He then joined Oxford University on a scholarship program.[1]

Mr. Lester returned to Canada and briefly worked with the University of Toronto in its department of history. Pearson joined the civil service and served as secretary in the department of external affairs. Some series of events led him to different sections like being the secretary to commission on wheat futures as well as serving as a secretary to a commission that was established to investigate prices of commodities.

During this period of time, Mr. Pearson got opportunities that sent him to participate in international activities such as: “The Hague conference on codification of international law (1930); Geneva world disarmament conference (1933-1934); London naval conference of 1935 and session of the league nations in 1935.”[2]

The busy scheduled life of Lester took him through a series of promotions in state offices. First was his appointment to serve as the Canadian high commissioner to England which came barely a year after the naval conference and the League of Nations.

He spent six years in the capacity before being recalled to Canada to serve as the “assistant undersecretary of state for external affairs.”[3] He was then relocated to serve as a minister-counselor “at a Canadian legation in Washington.”[4] He then moved to serve at the capacity of a minister and then an ambassador to the United States of America by the beginning of the year 1945.

Also included in his profile are his participation and contributions in a number of international conferences which included the establishment of the United Nations’ Relief and Rehabilitation administration and United Nations’ food and agriculture organization. He also participated in the conferences for preliminary talks on the establishment of the United Nations and in the final establishment of the world body.[5]

Lester Pearson: The International Leader

Also inclusive in his international debut was the establishment and service to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It was Lester who drafted for the then Canadian prime minister the speech that was used to initiate the establishment of NATO. He then proceeded to sign the NATO treaty on behalf of his country before leading the Canadian team to the organization.

Pearson then managed to be in the following positions: “chairperson of NATO in the year 1951; the captain of the Canadian team to the United Nations in the decade that ended in 1956.”[6] In the period of 1952 to 1953, Lester Pearson served as the president of the general assembly of the United Nations. In this capacity, he headed a special team that was mandated to look into the issue of the then Palestinian crisis.

Together with his team, Lester established the basis upon which Israel gained its sovereignty as a nation. He was also influential in the resolution of the Suez crisis in which Egypt was under attack from a joint force of Britain, France together with Israel. Pearson sponsored a proposal to the conflict which was adopted by the United Nations.[7]

Lester Pearson in the Canadian Politics

The active participation in politics by Lester Pearson became evident when he won the Algoma east seat into the House of Commons in a by election in 1948. The active involvement in politics, the entry into the House of Commons, enabled him to rise from being a deputy minister to a minister in the ministry of external affairs.

He then became the opposition leader in 1958 after taking on the party leadership in the same year. Pearson strengthened his liberal party and managed to win the 1963 general elections. He however did not gather the majority support and ended up ruling with a minority government. His attempt to further strengthen his party did not bear much fruit as he again failed to win a majority government in the year 1965.

Pearson however made a number of achievements that went to records under his political career. Among his achievements as the Canadian prime minister were: the establishment of the Canada pension plan, the deal that was established between Canada and the United States over automotive, the promulgation of the Canadian new national flag and the introduction of general Medicare for all Canadians in the year 1966. He then left politics in 1968 in circumstances described as retirement.[8]

The annals of the Canadian prime ministers describe Pearson’s political career as having taken rapid developments just like his leadership and diplomatic careers. Entering elective politics in 1948, he won the bi-election. He was then elected the party leader of the liberals in the year 1957.

He failed to gather a majority support in two elections but managed to enlist the support of some opposition leaders in the times. He however marginally improved the support for his party as his won more seats in the second election. Lester Pearson then opted to resign from party leadership and the country’s premiership in the year 1968.[9]

Other Achievements

Lester Pearson joined Victoria College of Toronto University in the year 1913. His studies were interrupted by the First World War but he later continued and graduated, attaining honors degree in 1919. He also studied law before being awarded a scholarship to study history at master’s level at English Oxford University.[10] He was awarded the prize following his “vision, wisdom, perseverance and skillful success in establishing an international police force to resolve the 1956 Suez crisis”.[11]

His move also led to the establishment of the United Nations’ mission of peace keeping. Lester demonstrated his passion to achieve a peaceful environment throughout his time of mission in the United Nations. He spear headed several peace initiatives for the United Nations. Apart from the Suez crisis, Lester Pearson led in the resolutions of many conflicts some of which include the Korean War, Cyprus crisis and the Palestinian crisis in which Israel was established as a nation.[12]

Lester made his achievement very quickly for instance when he was promoted to the capacity of the Minister of external affairs, it did not take very long for him to be promoted to the level of being Canada’s top representative in the UK and US. Actually his successes are above average and there is a need for a special tribute to be paid to him.

The Historic-Dominion Institute should include Pearson in its programs because, apart from his contributions in Canada as a citizen and a leader, he established a pillar for Canada in the international community. The big question therefore should be, “if Lester’s achievements accorded him a global recognition to be awarded a global Nobel Prize honor, how much more should a national body accord him in the face of national history?” I believe that many Canadians will concur that he deserves more.


The right honorable Lester Pearson is obviously an outstanding figure both in the history of Canada and the global history. He originated from a humble background as his father was just a church minister. Lester beat the odds of his background to rise to positions that are normally occupied by influential wealthy businessmen and politicians.

Besides, he was just an ordinary person who wanted to make achievements. Because of his ambition and determination, he joined the military at a younger age, when the authorities could not even take him to the battle field. His ordinary nature is evident when he quit air training after crashing an aircraft on his first training flight.

He however picks on his education and develops his career to incredible levels. He made great motivational achievements as he developed his career both in the Canadian diplomatic arena as well as in the Canadian politics and international diplomacy. His popularity that spread across the globe was not only attributable to his career, but to his personality. Probably the combination of his personality and career made him rise faster in ranks whenever he served.


Collections Canada. “”. Library of archives Canada, 2006. Web.

Council Irma. Canada’s Prime Ministers, Governors General and Fathers of Confederation. Canada: Pembroke Publishers Limited, 2005.

Nobel Prize. “” Nobel Prize, 2011. Web.

Robinson library. “Lester Bowles Pearson”. The Robinson Library, 2010. Web.

Sympatico. “”. Canadian Menu. Web.

UNA-CANADA. “Lester B. Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize (1957-2007)”. UNA-CANADA. Web.


  1. Collections Canada, Biography. (Library of archives Canada).
  2. Ibid
  3. Council Irma. Canada’s Prime Ministers, Governors General and Fathers of Confederation. Canada: Pembroke Publishers Limited, 2005.
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Nobel Prize, Nobel Peace Prize 1957 (Nobel Prize, 2011).
  8. Sympatico, The right honourable. (Canadian Menu.).
  9. Council Irma, Canada’s Prime Ministers, Governors General and Fathers of Confederation. (Canada: Pembroke Publishers Limited, 2005)
  10. Robinson library, Lester Bowles Pearson. (The Robinson Library, 2010).
  11. UNA-CANADA, Lester B. Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize (1957-2007). (UNA-CANADA.)
  12. Ibid
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