History Corner - Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier’s body guards in Yorkton July 20, 1910

There appears to be ten mounted guards, so even in those early years which we generally consider a “more genteel time” our prime minister needed to be quite heavily guarded. He was the first Prime Minister to visit Yorkton, and people of the town and the region greeted him royally. He visited wheat fields and in a hall packed to the rafters he spoke to Liberal supporters and Conservatives as well. He later travelled to Saskatoon for the formal opening of the University of Saskatchewan.   

Liberal Prime Minister Laurier was in power for 15 years from 1896 to 1911. During that time he made efforts to establish more autonomy for Canada within the British Commonwealth. In 1897, concerned with populating the farmlands of the West, he strongly supported the immigration plans of his Minister of the Interior Clifford Sifton: to continue looking to the United States and Western Europe for farmers, but concentrate on invitations to Eastern Europeans. Soon thereafter, Ukrainian people (from Austro-Hungarian Empire) and Doukhobors from Russia began arriving to settle on free homesteads of 160 acres. He oversaw Saskatchewan and Alberta becoming provinces in 1905, and the separation of the Yukon Territory from the North West Territories in 1898. A tall imposing figure, educated as a lawyer, eloquent in speech, fluently bilingual, and with the accomplishments already cited and more, he is often considered Canada’s greatest statesman. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was knighted in 1897.

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