The Prime Ministers of Canada

In the 140-odd years since 1867, when the current Canadian Constitution was adopted, 21 men and one woman have served as prime minister of Canada. Some were good, some were bad; some reigned for years, others just a few weeks, but all left their own unique mark on the country. Bios of the prime ministers can be found by clicking their portraits.

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau, Liberal (2015- )

Canada’s Best Prime Ministers

Back in 1997, Canada’s Maclean’s magazine commissioned a survey of several of the country’s top historians to figure out who the best Canadian prime ministers of all time were. Their conclusions?

  1. Mackenzie King
  2. John A. MacDonald
  3. Wilfrid Laurier
  4. Louis St. Laurent
  5. Pierre Trudeau
In 2011, the Maclean’s people did a second similar survey to see how opinions had changed. The results were slightly different this time around:
  1. Wilfrid Laurier
  2. John A. MacDonald
  3. Mackenzie King
  4. Lester Pearson
  5. Pierre Trudeau
It should be noted, likewise, that the portraits of prime ministers King, MacDonald, Laurier, and Robert Borden all appear on Canadian money, which is probably a good indication of their importance in the larger Canadian historical imagination.

Links About Canada’s Prime Ministers:

Quick Facts:

  • Not all of Canada's prime ministers are equally important — some ruled only very briefly.
  • Many eras of Canadian history are defined by the prime minister who governed.
  • All prime ministers came from either the Liberal or Conservative parties, reflecting a progressive or conservative approach.
  • The prime ministers Canadians most respect tend to be the ones who attempted large or ambitious projects.