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The Young Liberal: “Rouge and Separatist”

Wilfrid LAURIER was a lawyer and journalist. Liberal in politics, he was a member of the Rouge party and was initially opposed to Canadian confederation. Throughout his life, he surrounded himself with friends and advisers.


Friends and Advisers


When free of the obligations of his public life, Wilfrid Laurier spent time in the company of friends such as Émilie BARTHE (Lavergne), a socialite with whom he shared his leisure time and in whom he confided:

“Émilie and Wilfrid had admired one another from 1876. They had the same literary interests, the same love of things English, the same desire to outdo themselves, and the same sensitivity. This mutual attraction grew into love and became the most celebrated liaison in Canadian political history. This woman, who would never have any official status, so captivated Laurier that at times, openly and with the full knowledge of their spouses, Zoé [Lafontaine] and Joseph [Lavergne], she was his confidante, go-between, and éminence grise.”


However, it was the journalist and author Laurent-Olivier DAVID who became Laurier’s most important confidant, and who would remain his friend and loyal adviser throughout his political career. They had met in the 1860s, when they opposed the plan for confederation [see The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864] in the pages of the Union nationale newspaper of Médéric LANCTOT. David’s biography states: 

“It was while working at this paper (which would cease publication in November 1867, shortly after confederation) that David met Wilfrid Laurier*. Their friendship would last until the end of Laurier’s life.”


Laurier would also take care to surround himself with advisers such as Charles-Alphonse-Pantaléon PELLETIER. Pelletier assisted him at the start of his mandate as prime minister of Canada:

“When Laurier took power in Ottawa in 1896, Pelletier [whom Laurier considered reliable] was one of those who advised him on the composition of his cabinet.”


To learn more about Laurier’s friends, associates, and advisers, we invite you to consult the following lists of biographies.


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