Lapierre, Laurier L. 1929-
LaPIERRE, Laurier L. 1929-
PERSONAL: Born November 21, 1929, in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada; son of Lionel and Aldora (Bilodeau) LaPierre; married Paula Armstrong, May 28, 1960 (divorced); children: Dominic, Thomas. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1955, M.A., 1957, Ph.D., 1962; University of Prince Edward Island, LL. D., 1970. Politics: "No one knows!" Religion: "A distant Roman Catholic." Hobbies and other interests: "I cook to survive and I garden because I am."
ADDRESSES: Home—285 Fairmond Ave., Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 1Y4, Canada. Agent—Westwood Creative Artists, 94 Harbord St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 1G6, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educator and author. University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Bell Professor of Journalism; University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, lecturer, 1960-62; McGill University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, lecturer, 1963-64, became associate professor of history, beginning 1965, became director of French-Canadian studies program; Telefilm Canada, chair, until 2000; Canadian Senate, Ottawa, Ontario, senator, 2000—. La Saberdache Quebeçoise (collection), director. Host of radio and television programs, including This Hour Has Seven Days and LaPierre; moderator of the Radio-Quebec television series En se racontant l'histoire d'ici; Station CKVU, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, commentator and programmer. Former director of the Spicer Commission and moderator of Citizen's Forum.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named officer, Order of Canada, 1994.
(Editor) Four o'Clock Lectures: French-Canadian Thinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, McGill University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1966.
Genesis of a Nation: British North America, 1776-1867 (radio script), International Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1966.
The Apprenticeship: Canada from Confederation to the Eve of the First World War (radio script), International Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1967.
(Editor) Québec: Hier et aujourd'hui, Macmillan (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1967.
(Editor) Essays on the Left: Essays in Honor of T. C. Douglas, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1971.
(Editor) If You Love This Country: Facts and Feelings on Free Trade, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1987.
1759: The Battle for Canada, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.
Canada, My Canada: What Happened?, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Romance of Canada, Stoddart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.
Québec: A Tale of Love, Penguin Books Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian historian, writer, educator, and broadcaster Laurier L. LaPierre once stated that the reason he wrote and was concerned about history was that his fellow Canadians refused "to share common history" and that he wanted them to feel it with more emotion, rather than see it in strictly political terms. Although a history professor at Canadian institutions such as McGill University, LaPierre has found time to devote to his side projects, which include radio and television programs and numerous historical and politically oriented books. In his works, such as a biography about his namesake and former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the recurring theme has been that there is a need for a truer Canadian nationalism. Many critics have commented that LaPierre's entertaining narrative has set his works apart from many books of history, which, while deserving merit, tend to bore the reader.
In 1987 LaPierre edited a book titled If You Love This Country: Facts and Feelings on Free Trade, which includes essays by more than forty prominent Canadians, all of whom opposed the free-trade pact with the United States being negotiated at the time. People such as Margaret Atwood, Frank Stronach, David Suzuki, and Peter Newman list various reasons why free trade would be problematic for their country, and describe how economic, social, cultural, and political issues would be impacted if such a deal were struck. "Canada is not just a blot on the map. It is a country. It is a land. It is the sum total of our willingness to live in Canada and to be of it in order to build a society which is just and sane and capable of making a distinct contribution to the peaceful evolution of mankind,"
LaPierre wrote in the introduction. Many reviewers who read the book were impressed with its broad scope. In Books in Canada George Grant wrote, "Taken all in all, this is a powerful statement of what a turning point the free-trade deal will be in Canadian life." Quill & Quire contributor Allan Gould, who expressed a fear of American expansionism himself, wrote that If You Love This Country "managed to capture [Canadians'] most profoundly felt fears of being eaten alive by gun-toting, money-grubbing, porno-and-violence-ridden vandals from the south." However, David Frum of Saturday Night believed that some of the criticism exaggerated the threats posed by free trade. If You Love This Country, he wrote, "preserves forever the tone and mood of the country's protectionist intellectuals. Some of that tone and mood is, frankly, a little nutty." Feeling that some of the essays were not of an objective voice, Frum went on to note, "Despite its … promises of facts as well as feelings, If You Love This Country tells us very little of what is known to be true about the free-trade deal with the United States, and considerably too much of what is known positively to be not true."
In 1759: The Battle for Canada, LaPierre writes about the most significant event in Canada's history—the British defeat of the French at Quebec during the French and Indian War—and incorporated modern television news techniques into his approach. He wrote from the perspective of a journalist who was at the scene of the events, interviewing historical characters and personalities as they were in the process of making history. Peter C. Newman, reviewing the book for Maclean's, wrote that the climactic battle and surrounding events are "made understandable at last." He noted that LaPierre's method is "an exciting new way of recounting history." However, in Quill & Quire, W. J. Eccles expressed concern with LaPierre's lack of source citation. Eccles wrote that without such citation, "the unwary reader has no way of knowing what is based on sound evidence and what is a flight of fancy." "In short," Eccles wrote, "this book is not history, but fiction."
When LaPierre was the director of the Spicer Commission, he moderated the Citizen's Forum, which enabled him to travel throughout Canada and meet many of the citizens who attended the events and voiced their opinions about national issues. LaPierre became disenchanted with the general negativity and ignorance he found along the way. As a result, he wrote Canada, My Canada: What Happened? In the book, LaPierre covers the breadth of pivotal events and the different peoples who have shaped and forged Canada into the country it is today. Covering a span of 10,000 years, he includes the arrival of the First Nations (Indians), Europeans, and all that have come after. Reviewing the book for Canadian Materials, Louise Dick commended it as an "intensely personal interpretation of Canadian history." She stated that Canada, My Canada was "not a formal history but a personal statement." Quill & Quire reviewer Carol Goar wrote that "LaPierre's style is expansive, colorful, flamboyant," adding, "LaPierre is too much of a storyteller to be a pure historian. The result is a thoroughly engaging book."
In the biography Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Romance of Canada, LaPierre argues that Laurier, Canada's prime minister from 1896 to 1911, is much more than just the face on the Canadian five-dollar bill. "For his life to have any value in our day, I must, as much as possible, rediscover him in the intimacy of his soul," LaPierre writes in the introduction. In the picture which LaPierre paints, Laurier was the instrumental figure who was responsible for convincing the people that they could see themselves as Canadians rather than as British subjects. A self-confessed admirer of Laurier, LaPierre believes the statesman ranks with Sir John A. Macdonald, considered the father of Canadian Confederacy. John Bemrose of Maclean's felt LaPierre captured the essence of Canadian pride which the critic felt was lacking in these modern days. Within the pages of Siir Wilfrid Laurier and the Romance of Canada, Bemrose wrote, "is a sense of the land, as much ideal as reality, that many Canadians would love to recapture in these cynical times." Although Bemrose noted that LaPierre "has not discovered anything startlingly new about his hero," he thought it gave a "fresh view" of Laurier. In Canadian Forum, Kevin Burns noted that one of the book's strengths was its incorporation of some of Laurier's speeches, but believed that LaPierre could have gone a bit further to connect with today's reader. However, he felt that, overall, the book was engaging and that "LaPierre's Laurier emerges as a complicated, energizing force, an uncommon hero." In Quill & Quire Bob Rae commented, "LaPierre is a shrewd as well as a passionate observer."
LaPierre once told CA: "I have to write for it is divine! But I hate reviews. I find often that some of my reviewers have reviewed the book they wanted to write or have written! Too bad!
"I write to tell the people of my country that Canada is worth loving and cherishing; that it is an experience in human living; and that it is a prototype of the political ensembles of the twenty-first century. The twentieth century indeed belonged to Canada—the twenty-first will see us at the center of human life on the planet. We have to be prepared.
"Vive le Canada!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
LaPierre, Laurier L., 1759: The Battle for Canada, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.
LaPierre, Laurier L., editor, If You Love this Country: Facts and Feelings on Free Trade, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1987.
Beaver: Exploring Canada's History, April-May, 1997, p. 38.
Books in Canada, January-February, 1988, George Grant, review of If You Love This Country, pp. 18-19; March, 1991, p. 49; February, 1993, p. 28.
Canadian Forum, September, 1995, p. 40; April, 1997, Kevin Burns, review of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Romance of Canada, pp. 46-47.
Canadian Materials, May, 1988, p. 105; January, 1993, Louise Dick, review of Canada, My Canada: What Happened?, p. 32.
Catholic Insight, May, 2002, "Marriage under Attack," p. 29.
Choice, April, 1967, p. 216.
Maclean's, November 26, 1990, Peter C. Newman, review of 1759: The Battle for Canada, p. 52; February 11, 1991, p. 50; May 20, 1991, p. 52; January 13, 1997, John Bemrose, review of Sir Wilfred Laurier and the Romance of Canada, p. 65; October 1, 2001, Allan Fotheringham, "The Senate's New Boy," p. 88.
Queen's Quarterly, winter, 1988, p. 881.
Quill & Quire, February, 1988, Allan Gould, review of If You Love This Country, pp. 24-25; November, 1990, W. J. Eccles, review of 1759, p. 24; October, 1992, Carol Goar, review of Canada, My Canada, p. 25; November, 1996, Bob Rae, review of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Romance of Canada, p. 34.
Saturday Night, April, 1988, David Frum, review of If You Love This Country, pp. 61-63.