Laurier LaPierre received a Bachelor of Arts (1955) from the St. Michael's College.
Laurier LaPierre received a Doctor of Philosophy in History (1962) from the University of Toronto.
Laurier LaPierre received a Master of Arts (1957) from the University of Toronto.
Laurier LaPierre, mid-1960s.
(One of Canada's best-loved and most-read historians, Laur...)
One of Canada's best-loved and most-read historians, Laurier LaPierre, provides an intimate portrait of Sir Wilfrid, from his school days at the College classique and McGill University law school, his marriage to his beloved Zoe and his friendship with the beguiling Emile.
LaPierre's family moved to Sherbrooke, Quebec, where he completed high school before entering the Paulist Fathers in Baltimore, Maryland, as a novitiate. After four years, he moved to St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. He received a Bachelor of Arts (1955) from the St. Michael's College, Master of Arts (1957) and a Doctor of Philosophy in History (1962) from the University of Toronto.
During his university years, LaPierre was a part-time teacher at Upper Canada College in Toronto. He taught History at the College of Christ the King (now King's College), University of Western Ontario (1959–1961); Loyola College, Montreal (now part of Concordia University) (1961–1963); and McGill University (1963–1978). In 1978, he moved to Vancouver to work in television but also taught briefly at Simon Fraser University.
LaPierre came to national prominence on This Hour Has Seven Days, the weekly news and current affairs program that aired on CBC Television from October 1964 to May 1966. LaPierre and co-hosts Patrick Watson, John Drainie and Dinah Christie mixed news, interviews, documentaries, commentary, and satire in an innovative program that often raised the ire of critics and even CBC brass. During an interview with the mother of a 14-year-old facing the death penalty for murder, he wiped tears from his eyes while noting a bill to abolish the death penalty was before Parliament. The CBC's president criticized this show of emotion as unprofessional, he was fired, and the show was soon canceled. After the show's much-publicized cancellation, LaPierre moved to politics as a "star candidate" for the New Democratic Party in the 1968 federal election. The party was hoping that he would help achieve an electoral breakthrough in Quebec, but he came second in the riding of Lachine with 19.5% of the vote.
Over the next few years, Laurier was in demand as a guest on many shows, but it was not until 1975 that he returned to a series role. From February to June of that year, Laurier hosted an eponymous weekday late night talk show, originally called Midnight from Montreal, which played on the full network on Sunday nights. In 1976, a new independent station, CKVU-TV, opened in Vancouver, and Laurier was hired to co-host a nightly 2-hour program, The Vancouver Show, which he did from 1976 to 1982. Then it was back to occasional guest appearances until 1985 when he hosted a CBC radio series titled Disasters.
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.
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.
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.
LaPierre returned to teaching, broadcasting, and writing until his appointment to the Senate in June 2001. As a member of the Liberal caucus, LaPierre was an outspoken supporter of Jean Chrétien against supporters of rival Paul Martin. He was a Senator from Ontario June 13, 2001 - November 21, 2004.
LaPierre died on December 16, 2012, at the age of 83 from a pulmonary embolism.
Lapierre described himself as "a distant Roman Catholic".
LaPierre was an activist with EGALE, a lobby group for gay and lesbian rights, after coming out as gay in the late 1980s. He was Canada's first openly gay senator.
LaPierre was a passionate defender of bilingualism.
Quotations: "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!"
Quotes from others about the person
"I think he was a pioneer with regard to human rights and gay rights. It was unconventional at the time he was speaking about it … at that time it was quite courageous." - Céline Hervieux-Payette, Liberal Senator.
In 1960, LaPierre married Paula (Jo) Armstrong and they had two sons: Dominic born 1962 and Thomas born 1965. They were divorced in 1982. He had five grandchildren - Paige, Alex, Georgia, Toby and Owen LaPierre.
LaPierre came out as gay in the late 1980s. He moved to Ottawa in 1990, continued to work in broadcasting and writing, and lived there until his death, in the later years, with his partner Harvey Slack.