Given the dissatisfaction with politicians these days, it’s hard to imagine anyone could make them seem fun.
But such is the case with an unusual art exhibit at the Hamilton Public Library, where you can view all of Canada’s 23 prime ministers, as the exhibit says, “as never seen before.”
Two years ago, a philanthropic Hamilton couple, Wynn and Bill Bensen, commissioned Julio Ferrer, a Canadian-Cuban artist living in the steel city, to paint all 23 PMs. Lakefield College’s John Boyko, the author of many books of prime ministerial history, was also commissioned, to write biographical summaries to accompany each portrait.
The style of the paintings was intended to be fun, in hopes of attracting the attention of young people to politics.
The show debuted in June at Government House in Fredericton, New Brunswick and is now in Hamilton until Oct. 29.
Sadly, Bill Bensen, a well-known Hamilton rheumatologist, died suddenly earlier this year and never got to see the exhibit come to fruition.
Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, served from 1867-1873, and again from 1878-1891.
Sir Charles Tupper (left) was briefly prime minister in 1896; Sir Mackenzie Bowell (centre) was in office from 1894-1896; Sir John Sparrow David Thompson served from 1892-1894.
Sir Robert Borden (left) was prime minister from 1911-1920, leading Canada throughout the First World War; Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the first French Canadian to become PM and served from 1896-1911.
Arthur Meighen served from 1920-1921, and again very briefly in 1926.
R.B. Bennett (left) was prime minister during the worst years of the great depression (1930-1935); William Lyon Mackenzie King served as prime minister longer than anyone with three stints in office: 1921-1926; 1926-1930; and 1935-1948.
Louis St. Laurent (left) served during a period of general postwar prosperity (1948-1957); John Diefenbaker (1957-1963) ended 22 years of Liberal rule when he led the Progressive Conservatives to power.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester B. Pearson was prime minister from 1963 to 1968.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau is both loved and loathed to this day for his time as prime minister (1968-1979; 1980-1984).
John Turner (left) governed for only a few months in 1984; Joe Clark (1979-1980) was 39 when he was sworn in as prime minister, making him the youngest PM in Canadian history.
Brian Mulroney won back-to-back majority governments as prime minister (1984-1993).
Kim Campbell was the first -- and is still the only -- woman to become Canadian prime minister. She served briefly in 1993.
Jean Chretien won three majority governments to serve as prime minister from 1993-2003.
Known as the man who slayed Canada's deficit as finance minister in the 1990s, Paul Martin served as PM from 2003-2006.
Some predicted an early political demise for Stephen Harper as leader of the Conservative Party. But he went on to govern nearly a decade, from 2006-2015.
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