Monday, September 27, 2010

Diefenbaker and Pearson

John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson shared the Canadian political stage from 1958 to 1967, serving as Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition for the Progressive Conservative ("Conservative") and Liberal parties respectively.

1. Prime Minister Diefenbaker - Leader of the Opposition Pearson
John Diefenbaker served as Prime Minister from June 21, 1957 to April 22, 1963. Lester Pearson was the leader of the Opposition from January 16, 1958 to April 21, 1963.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker

John Diefenbaker led the Conservatives to an upset minority government victory in the 1957 general election, defeating Louis St. Laurent and the Liberals. Challenged by Lester Pearson, the new leader of the Liberals, Diefenbaker returned to the polls in the 1958 election to win the largest majority government in Canadian history to that time.

The Diefenbaker majority government was reduced to a slim minority in the 1962 election. Economic problems such as high unemployment and a devalued dollar contributed to Conservative losses.

1957 Post-Election Campaign Mail

Ottawa to Mistawasis, Sask., August 29, 1957

The Mistawasis First Nation is a Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Mistawasis is located about 70 kilometers west of Prince Albert. The Mistawasis post office was open from 1896 to 1929. Today, the mailing address for the First Nation is Leask, Saskatchewan, the closest post office.

The Ottawa General Post Office did not forward the letter to Saskatchewan. Since there was no Mistawasis post office, Ottawa returned the mailing advising "NO SUCH POST OFFICE IN OFFICE NAMED".

Note stapled to the letter
Had the letter been sent to the destination province it probably would have been delivered.


John Diefenbaker and his wife Olive in London
Mr. Diefenbaker was attending the Commonwealth Conference

1961 Correspondence

Ottawa to Davidson, Saskatchewan, March 13, 1961

Leader of the Opposition Pearson

House of Commons to Montreal, March 30, 1960
"L.B.P. LO" [Lester B. Pearson, Leader of the Opposition]

House of Commons to Toronto, September 21, 1961


January 12, 1959

2. Prime Minister Pearson - Leader of the Opposition Diefenbaker

Lester Pearson was Prime Minister from April 22, 1963 to April 20, 1968. John Diefenbaker was the Leader of the Opposition from April 22, 1963 to September 8, 1967.

Lester Pearson defeated John Diefenbaker in the 1963 election but was unable to obtain a majority government. In 1965 Pearson called a general election but again failed to secure a majority.

Prime Minister Pearson

Ottawa to Beamsville, September 4, 1963

1966 Correspondence

Leader of the Opposition Diefenbaker

Ottawa to Prince Albert, October 1, 1965