Lester B. Pearson fonds [multiple media]
Record Information – Brief1
Lester B. Pearson fonds [multiple media]
- Hierarchical level:
- R7581-0-9-E, MG26-N
- Type of material:
- Textual material, Photographs, Moving images, Sound recordings, Art, Objects (including medals and pins)
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
163 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Bilingual equivalent:
- Click here
- Place of creation:
- No place, unknown, or undetermined
435.71 m of textual records.
1 microfilm reel : negative and positive.
ca. 3185 photographs : ca. 3124 b&w and 61 col.
13 albums (547 photographs).
273 audio reels.
25 audio discs.
17 audio cassettes.
4 paintings : oil.
3 film reels (47 min).
2 prints : aquatint.
- Language of material:
- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of the official and personal papers of the Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson. The fonds contains information on almost all aspects of Pearson's diplomatic and political career, including his winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the flag debate, lasting accomplishments and the political scandals that plagued his terms in office. Although all of Pearson's life and career are documented, the fonds places a particular emphasis on his years and his work as Prime Minister. It also contains extensive documentation on Canada's foreign policy and involvement in international affairs.
The fonds is arranged chronologically to reflect the different stages of Pearson's career, from his diplomatic career in the Department of External Affairs to his post-political work. The fonds contains extensive correspondence, both official and private, reference material, a comprehensive set of Pearson's speeches, and a small amount of personal memorabilia. The fonds also contains sound recordings of speeches, press conferences and interviews with Lester B. Pearson and other Canadians and foreign politicians and personalities or heads of state about Canadian and international affairs, and Canada's Centennial and reports by René Lévesque, Michel Robida, Raymond Marsillac and Roland Lelièvre on the visit of Vincent Auriol, President of France to Canada, 1951-1968. As well, there is a short documentary film entitled He is a good man promoting Pearson's 1962 campaign and a television interview of Maryon Pearson, [ca. 1964].
- Additional name(s):
- Biography/Administrative history:
Pearson, Lester B., 1897-1972 : Prime Minister of Canada (1963-68). Lester Bowles Pearson was born at Newtonbrook (Toronto) on 23 April 1897. He studied history at the University of Toronto before joining the Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1915. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. Fellow pilots called him 'Mike,' the name by which he was known for the rest of his life. Pearson was injured in a traffic accident in London in 1918 and was recovering at home when the war ended. Further studies at the University of Toronto were followed by two years at Oxford, where he played on the university hockey team that won the inaugural Spengler Cup in 1923. Pearson taught history at the University of Toronto before joining Canada's foreign service in 1927. He served in Ottawa on the Royal Commission on Grain Futures (1931) and the Royal Commission on Price Spreads (1934), followed by increasingly senior positions in London (1935-41) and Washington (1942-46), where he was ambassador (1945-46). He represented Canada at the conferences that created the United Nations (1945) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (1949). In 1948, Prime Minister Mackenzie King appointed Pearson secretary of state for international affairs, and he was subsequently elected for the riding of Algoma East. He continued as secretary of state under Louis St-Laurent and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his role in resolving the Suez Crisis. Pearson succeeded St-Laurent as Liberal leader in 1958 and was elected prime minister in 1962 and re-elected in 1965. Despite never heading a majority government, Pearson enacted many changes that shaped contemporary Canada including the new national flag (1965), royal commissions on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963) and the Status of Women (1967), and oversaw celebration of Canada's Centennial (1967). Social welfare programs were mordernised with a national student loan programme (1964), the Canada Pension Plan (1965), and the Medical Care Act (1966). The first Canada-United States Automotive Agreement was signed (1965), a points-based system for immigration was introduced (1967), and the navy, army and air force were unified into the Canadian Armed Forces (1968). After retiring in 1968, Pearson chaired the Commission on International Development, the International Development Research Centre and served as Chancellor of Carleton University (1969-72), where he also lectured. Pearson became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1968 and was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1971. He married Maryon Moodie in 1925. He died at Ottawa on 27 December 1972 and was buried in MacLaren Cemetery, Wakefield, Quebec. Pearson attempted to modify the federal government's systematically racist relationship with Indigenous Peoples, which caused tremendous ongoing trauma, displacement, disenfranchisement and exclusion. He reintroduced 'Indian' claims legislation to Parliament, established the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development as a stand-alone body (1966) and commissioned the Hawthorn-Tremblay study (1966) of Indigenous Peoples' economic, educational, and political needs. At the same time, Indigenous children were taken from their homes and adopted out to settler families in Canada and internationally in what is known as the 'sixties scoop.' Residential and day schools also continued to operate throughout this period. Pearson also held racist and homophobic opinions common in his time. As secretary of state for external affairs, he opposed the stationing of Black American troops on Canadian soil. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, members of the 2SLGBTQI community were actively purged from the federal civil service and Canada's military. The damage done by policies and actions in place during Pearson's time in office have been acknowledged in recent years. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded that the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide. The prime minister of the day apologised for residential schools in 2008 and 2017, and the government signed compensation packages for residential school survivors (2006) and for survivors of day schools (2019). In 2017, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that Canada had breached its duty of care towards children who were adopted in the Sixties Scoop. The federal government subsequently reached an $800 million agreement to compensate First Nations and Inuit children who had been adopted. In 2017, the prime minister apologised to 2SLGBTQI Canadians for their historic mistreatment, and established a $100 million compensation fund.
- Finding aid:
Textual record (Paper) Each series has its own finding aid identified by series number (ie: MSS0877 N1). Most finding aids are in paper format, however some also exist in electronic form. Consult the Archivist for any possible finding aids in process. MSS0877 (90: Open)Moving images and sound recordings: (Electronic) See MISACS for item level descriptions.
- Additional information:
- General Note:
- The majority of the Pearson Papers were transferred to the National Archives in 1968. Several additional accessions have been received since that date. The papers were left to the Archives by the terms of Mr. Pearson's will. They were formally presented by the family in October 1973. In 1976 photographs were transferred to the Visual and Sound Archives Division (accession 1976-37 and 1976-143). A further transfer was made in 1978 (accession 1978-188).
- Arrangement note:
- The fonds was redescribed in 2001, but no major changes were made to the physical arrangement of the material.
- Container note(s):
505 : Drawings of flags from Accession 2000-01589-1
506 : Drawings of flags from Accession 2000-01589-1
507 : Drawings of flags from Accession 2000-01589-1
508 : Drawings of flags from Accession 2000-01589-1
509 : Textile - Design of flags from accession 2000-01589-1
510 : Textile - Design of flags from accession 2000-01589-1
- Subject heading:
- Canada. Privy Council Office
- Commission on International Development
- Canada. Secretary of State for External Affairs
- Ambassadors, 1945-1946
- Algoma East (Ont.)
- Nicholson, Alexander M., b. 1900
- Speeches, addresses, etc., Canadian
- Politicians Canada
- Prime ministers Canada
- Premiers ministres Canada
- Cabinet ministers Canada
- Canada 20th century
- Canada 20e siècle
- Former archival reference no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
Photographs: Copyright expired. Credit: Name of photographer / National Archives of Canada / Copy negative number.
Moving images and sound recordings: Reproduction and use in any form require the written permission of the copyright holders.
Graphic material: art No restriction. Copyright: various copyrights. Credit: National Archives of Canada.
Object: No restriction. Copyright: various copyrights. Credit: National Archives opf Canada.
You can order materials in advance to be ready for you when you visit. You will need a user card to do this.
Cannot visit us on site? You can purchase a copy to be sent to you. Some restrictions may apply.
- Date modified: