Today in Canada's Political History - February 20, 1912: Sir Wilfrid Laurier firms up the youth vote!

Newspapers across the country carried a story on this date in 1912 that illustrated the warm side of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The great man was in his private car at the train station in Arnprior, Ontario, when he had an encounter with a young girl that soon, as we would say today, went viral. I’ll let the press of the day tell the story.

“Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s love of children was exemplified yesterday looming at Arnprior,” a reporter wrote. “Just before his private car was attached to the Ottawa train, a little girl who was at the station with her father, said she wanted to see Sir Wilfrid. The father lifted the child in his arms, and she peeked through the window, where she could see the ex-Premier talking to his friends.

“Sir Wilfrid was sitting at breakfast. Seeing the child looking through the window he beckoned to her to come in the car. When she was taken in to Sir Wilfrid, he selected the most fragrant rose from the vase, gave it to the girl and accompanied it by a kiss. The young lady was the proudest girl in the Ottawa Valley in consequence.”

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.