Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wives of Canadian Prime Ministers Since 1867

Since 1867, Canada has had 22 different prime ministers. Among those 22, three of them remarried, and both wives are therefore included in the list. Two of them never married, one was a widower at the time he was elected PM of Canada ( (but his wife is still included in the list below at #7), and one prime minister was a woman, therefore the following list contains 22 entries corresponding to the 22 wives of the Prime Ministers of Canada from 1867 to 2012.

You can find the information on Canada's only female prime minister under "Prime Minister of Canada" or under "Kim Campbell".

1. ISABELLA CLARK, 1811-1857

(John A. Macdonald)

First wife of John A. Macdonald, the 1st prime minister of Canada from 1867-1873, and again from 1878-1891. Was Macdonald’s first cousin; they met in Britain in 1842; Isabella journeyed to Kingston to visit with a sister in late 1842, and married John A. in 1843. Became ill after two years of marriage, died in 1857. Medical examinations concluded that she was suffering from a somatization disease.


2. AGNES BERNARD, 1836-1920
(John A. Macdonald)

Second wife of John A. Macdonald, the 1st prime minister of Canada from 1867-1873, and again from 1878-1891. Born Susan Bernard near Spanish Town, Jamaica, raised in England, died in England. Came to Canada to live with her brother who introduced her to John A. in 1856; she married him in 1867 after seeing him in London where he was to prepare the British North America Act. They had one daughter who was born severely handicapped.

Was intimately acquainted with many of the intricacies of the political and historical events of the country. After her husband's death in 1891, Queen Victoria raised her to the peerage in his honour as Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe, in the Province of Ontario and Dominion of Canada. (Note: Earnscliffe was the home of Canada's first Prime Minister, and also the place where he died).

There is a trailhead at Lake Louise in Alberta for hikers to visit Lake Agnes, named in her honour.


3. HELEN NEAL, 1826-1852
(Alexander Mackenzie)

First wife of Alexander Mackenzie, the 2nd prime minister of Canada from 1873-1878.

Had three children with A. Mackenzie but only one survived infancy.


4. JANE SYM, 1825-1894
(Alexander Mackenzie)

Second wife of Alexander Mackenzie, the 2nd prime minister of Canada from 1873-1878.

Born in Perthshire, Scotland, married A. Mackenzie in 1853. The couple had no children and are buried in Sarnia, Ontario.


5. MARY BETHUNE, 1823-1898

(John Abbott)

Wife of John Abbott, the the 3rd prime minister of Canada in 1891-92.

Had four sons and four daughters with John Abbot, Canada's first native-born prime minister. Was a relative of Dr. Norman Bethune, Canadian physicist and medical innovator.


6. ANNIE EMMA AFFLECK, 1845-1913
(John Thompson)

Wife of John Thompson, the 4th prime minister of Canada from 1892-1894.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Married Thompson in 1870 in Portland, Maine. Their first child, a son, was stillborn on September 3, 1871. They had eight more children. The Thompson family finally moved to Ottawa in 1888, and John Thompson became Prime Minister in 1892. He died of a heart attack in 1894 while at Windsor Castle. Lady Thompson moved to Toronto in 1895 where she lived at 18½ St Joseph Street. Was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 1913 and died on the operating table. Buried in Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery in Toronto.


7. HARRIET MOORE, 1829-1884 (passed away before her husband was elected as PM)
(Mackenzie Bowell)

Wife of Mackenzie Bowell, the 5th prime minister of Canada from 1894-1896.

Formally known as Lady Bowell; had 9 children with M. Bowell.



(Charles Tupper)

Born in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Wife of Charles Tupper, the 6th prime minister of Canada from 1896-1896 (69-day term).

Granddaughter of Col. Joseph Morse, one of the founders of Amherst, Nova Scotia.

They had six children together, three boys and three girls. Two of their sons, Charles Hibbert Tupper and William Johnston Tupper, also had careers in politics.


9. ZOÉ LAFONTAINE, 1842-1921
(Wilfrid Laurier)

Wife of Wilfrid Laurier, the 7th prime minister of Canada from 1896-1911.

Born in Montréal, married W. Laurier in 1868, moved to Ottawa in 1896.

Served as one of the Vice-Presidents on the formation of the National Council of Women of Canada. The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) was founded on October 27, 1893, at a public meeting in Toronto, chaired by Lady Aberdeen, wife of the Governor-General of Canada and attended by 1500 women.

Was Honorary Vice-President of the Victorian Order of Nurses.

A lounge in the Château Laurier in Ottawa was named in her honour.


10. LAURA BOND, 1862-1940

(Robert Borden)

Wife of Robert Borden, the 8th prime minister of Canada from 1911-1920.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia to a local hardware merchant; married Borden in 1889. They didn’t have children.

Died in Ottawa and buried next to her husband at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.


11. ISABEL COX, 1883-1985
(Arthur Meighen)

Wife of Arthur Meighen, the 9th Prime Minister of Canada from 1920-1921, and again in 1926.

Born in Quebec; married Arthur Meighen in 1904, and they had two sons and one daughter.

Died at the age of 102, and was interred next to her husband in the St. Marys Cemetery in the town of St. Marys, Ontario.


12. JEANNE RENEAULT, 1887-1966
(Louis St-Laurent)

Wife of Louis St. Laurent, the 12th prime minister of Canada from 1948-1957.

Born in Beauceville, Québec. Her father Pierre-Ferdinand Renault was a businessman who changed his family name from Renaud.

Married L. St. Laurent in 1908; they had five children.

13. EDNA MAY BROWER, 1899-1951
(John Diefenbaker)
Was the first wife of John Diefenbaker before he became the 13th prime minister of Canada from 1957-1963.

N.B. Diefenbaker appointed the first female minister to his Cabinet and the first aboriginal member of the Senate
Born inWawanesa, Manitoba, and worked as a school teacher in Saskatoon before marrying J. Diefenbaker in 1929.

Devoted her energies to the advancement of Diefenbaker's political career. She would visit towns before her husband so that he was prepared with information on the inhabitants.

Also edited his speeches, and upon Diefenbaker's election as aProgressive ConservativeMember of Parliament, worked tirelessly on his behalf, in an unpaid capacity. She was a constant presence in the visitor's gallery in the Canadian House of Commons, and was crucial in establishing close relationships between John and reporters in the Ottawa press gallery.

She died of leukemiain 1951. MPs in the Canadian House of Commons gave her "unprecedented eulogies" for a non-MP.


(John Diefenbaker)

Was the second wife of John George Diefenbaker, the13th prime minister of Canada from 1957-1963.

Was a school teacher, married J. Diefenbaker in 1953. They had no children together but raised a daughter from her previous marriage to solicitor Harry Palmer.

On her husband's death in 1979, her remains, buried in 1976 in Ottawa, were reburied in Saskatoon in 1979.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Diefenbaker http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_Diefenbaker

(Lester B. Pearson)

Wife of Lester Bowles Pearson, the 14th prime minister of Canada from 1963-1968.

Married L. Pearson in1925. They met at the University of Toronto, where he was a teacher and she was a student. They had two children.

Was known for her sharp tongued wit. Among her most famous quotations: "Behind every successful man, there stands a surprised woman."

Reportedly at her request that the practice of curtseying to the Governor General and his consort was discontinued (apparently because Maryon refused to act deferentially toward her old friend Norah Michener).



(Pierre E. Trudeau)

Wife of Pierre E. Trudeau, the 15th prime minister of Canada, from 1968-1979 and again, from 1980-1984.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the daughter of Doris Kathleen (née Bernard) and James Sinclair, a former Liberal member of the Parliament of Canada and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Studied English literature at Simon Fraser University.

Met P. Trudeau when she was 18 years old; they married in 1971 when she was 22. They had 3 children.

Separated from her husband in 1977 and became a much talked about jet-setter. She gave many "tell-all" interviews to Canadian and American magazines and appeared in two motion pictures.

Honorary president of WaterCan, an Ottawa-based organization dedicated to helping the poorest communities in developing countries build sustainable water supply and sanitation services.

In 2006, she announced that she had been suffering from bipolar disorder. Since then, she has advocated for reduced stigma of mental illness — bipolar disorder in particular — with speaking engagements across North America.

She wrote Changing My Mind, a book about her personal experience having bipolar disorder, published by HarperCollins Canada in 2010.



(Joe Clark)

Wife of Joe Clark, the 16th Prime Minister of Canada, from 1979-1980.

Became the first wife of a Prime Minister to use her own surname rather than her husband's.

Born in Ottawa (Cumberland) in 1952.

Specialist in medical law; past member of the Royal Commission on Reproductive and Genetic Technologies (1989–1993).

Currently an adjunct Professor in the Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa.

Earned an undergraduate degree in 1973 and a law degree in 1976, both from the University of Ottawa.

First Canadian to be awarded an MA in Biotechnology, Law and Ethics from the Department of Law at the University of Sheffield in 2004; received an honorary LLD from that institution in 2008.

Among the organizers of the Esso Women's Nationals championship tournament for women's ice hockey in 1982; the Maureen McTeer Trophy, is named for her.

Ran as a Progressive Conservative candidate in Carleton—Gloucester in the 1988 federal election; to this day, remains the first and only spouse of a former Canadian Prime Minister to have run for political office.

Received the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case in 2008.


(John Turner)

Wife of John Turner, the 17th prime minister of Canada in 1984.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1937, she married J. Turner in 1963 and had four children.

She is the great-niece of John McCrae, author of the poem In Flanders Fields, and the sister of long time Alberta Member of Parliament David Kilgour.

Went to Harvard Business School and was employed at IBM.

Her contribution to John Turner's political life included being a "campaign worker" for him in the Canadian federal election of 1962, and she "brought computers into Turner's campaign."



(Brian Mulroney)

Wife of Brian Mulroney, the 18th prime minister of Canada from 1984-1993.

Born in Sarajevo, SR Bosnia-Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia. Immigrated to Montreal with her family in 1958.

Studied engineering at Concordia University, but did not graduate.

Married B. Mulroney in 1973 at the age of 19. Both were involved with the Progressive Conservatives in Westmount. Mila played a large role in Brian’s first campaign for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership. Many PC campaign buttons featured both Mulroney’s face and hers.

She took on a greater role than many Prime Ministers’ wives while Brian was in office, acting as a campaigner for several children’s charities.

She is currently a director of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and of Astral Media.


20. ALINE CHAÎNÉ, 1936-
(Jean Chrétien)

Wife of Jean Chrétien, the 20th prime minister of Canada from 1993-2003.

Born in Saint-Boniface-de-Shawinigan, Quebec in 1936.

Was appointed as the first chancellor of Laurentian University in 2010; In this volunteer role, she will be preside over convocation ceremonies, confer degrees, advise the president and help promote Laurentian over a period of 3 years.

Was Honorary Chair of the National Advisory Council of the Royal Conservatory of Music.


(Paul Martin)

Wife of Paul Martin, the 21st prime minister of Canada from 2003-2006.
She and Paul were neighbours and her father was law partners with Paul Martin Sr in Windsor, Ontario. Married in 1965, they have three sons.
A Canada Steamship Lines ship, Sheila Ann, is named in her honour.
Before her husband became the Prime Minister of Canada, Sheila Martin's work in Ottawa included serving on a committee called Politics and the Pen, and on this committee she helped give prizes and money to Canadian writers.


(Stephen Harper)

Wife of Stephen Harper, the 22nd prime minister of Canada, since 2006.
Born in Turner Valley, a rural town south-west of Calgary, Alberta. Her parents were ranchers and owned an electrical contracting company;.
Attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology where she studied journalism and photography.
She was first married to New Zealander Neil Fenton from 1985 to 1988.
Joined the Reform Party of Canada in the late 1980s, and met Stephen Harper at the Reform assembly in Saskatoon in 1990. They married in 1993; they have two children.
Offers her home to the Ottawa Humane Society as a foster home for kittens, and in her spare time enjoys riding her motorcycle.
Since assuming her role in 2006, as spouse of the Prime Minister she has played an active role in campaigning alongside her husband. She is frequently seen at the podium on behalf of and with her husband.

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