Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for March 29th!

Canadian History for Kids: John Diefenbaker

March 31, 1958 – Federal Election – John Diefenbaker wins Canada’s 24th general election

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at Canada’s 13th Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, Dief the Chief!

Diefenbaker was born on September 18, 1895, in Neustadt, Ontario. The Diefenbaker family moved west in 1903, for his father to accept a position near Fort Carlton, then in the Northwest Territories (now in Saskatchewan).

John Diefenbaker had been interested in politics from an early age, and told his mother at the age of eight or nine that he would some day be Prime Minister.

After graduating from high school in Saskatoon, in 1912, Diefenbaker entered the University of Saskatchewan. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1915, and his Master of Arts the following year.

He ran for Parliament in 1925 and 1926, losing both times. He lost races for the provincial legislature in 1929 and for mayor of Prince Albert in 1933. As party leader, he led the Saskatchewan Conservatives to complete defeat in 1938. They won no seats.

Once he was finally elected to Ottawa in 1940, he sat in opposition for 17 years, he championed the rights of “average” Canadians and upset wealthy Tory supporters.

Diefenbaker became Canada’s 13th Prime Minister in 1957 when he defeated Louis St. Laurent’s astonished Liberals on a “Canada First” theme of building “one Canada” with “equal opportunity” for every individual and every province.

Canadian History for Kids’ Highlights as Prime Minister

Highlights of the John Diefenbaker years as Prime Minister of Canada include:

  • appointed Ellen Fairclough the first Canadian woman federal cabinet minister 1957
  • Canadian Bill of Rights 1960
  • vote extended to native peoples in Canada 1960
  • Royal Commission on Health Services 1961
  • Agriculture Rehabilitation and Development Act 1961
  • found market in China for prairie wheat
  • created National Productivity Council 1963
  • expanded old age pensions
  • introduced simultaneous translation in House of Commons

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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Canadian History for Kids!