Spouses of the Prime Ministers of Canada

From Academic Kids

Unlike in the United States, the spouse of the Prime Minister of Canada does not have a prominent role. Although some commentators have tried to style prime minister's wives as First Lady of Canada, this title is not officially recognized. Use of the term is likely based more on the pervasive influence of American media than on any historical notions of a defined public role for the Prime Minister's spouse.

While the American First Lady has a number of responsibilities and usually her own staff, the same is not true of the spouse of the Prime Minister. This is partially a reflection of the much smaller role of the personal lives of politicians in Canadian media and the fact that the Canadian PM is not the head of state (see also Canadian Monarchy; Governor General of Canada).

Some Prime Ministers' spouses have attracted a great deal of attention, however. Margaret Trudeau, whom Pierre Trudeau married while in office, became a notable celebrity in her own right, especially during and after the couple's divorce. Maureen McTeer, spouse of Joe Clark, in turn, attracted controversy when she became the first spouse of a Prime Minister to retain her own surname after marriage. Mila Mulroney also rose to some notoriety due to her extravagant spending habits.

At times, Prime Ministers' wives have used their public status to promote charitable causes--Mila Mulroney was a spokesperson for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and other children's charities and Aline Chrétien was an active campaigner for literacy programs.

Canada has also had two bachelor Prime Ministers - William Lyon Mackenzie King and R.B. Bennett.

Canada has also had one female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell. However, as she was not married during her term in office, there has never been a "husband of the Prime Minister" (although Campbell's first husband, Nathan Divinsky, did try to attract media attention in 1993 by billing himself as the ex-husband of the Prime Minister.)

RankNameDatesSpouse of
1.Susan Agnes BernardJuly 1, 1867 - November 5, 1873Sir John A. Macdonald
2.Jane SymNovember 7, 1873 - October 8, 1878Alexander Mackenzie
Susan Agnes BernardOctober 17, 1878 - June 6, 1891Sir John A. Macdonald
3.Mary BethuneJune 16, 1891 - November 24, 1892Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott
4.Annie AffleckDecember 5, 1892 - December 12, 1894Sir John Sparrow David Thompson
5.Harriet MooreDecember 21, 1894 - April 27, 1896Sir Mackenzie Bowell
6.Frances MorseMay 1, 1896 - July 8, 1896Sir Charles Tupper
7.Zoe LafontaineJuly 11, 1896 - October 7, 1911Sir Wilfrid Laurier
8.Laura BondOctober 10, 1911 - July 10, 1920Sir Robert Laird Borden
9.Isabel J. CoxJuly 10, 1920 - December 29, 1921Arthur Meighen
Isabel J. CoxJune 29, 1926 - September 25, 1926Arthur Meighen
10.Jeanne RenaultNovember 15, 1948 - June 21, 1957Louis Stephen St. Laurent
11.Olive PalmerJune 21, 1957 - April 22, 1963John George Diefenbaker
12.Maryon MoodyApril 22, 1963 - April 20, 1968Lester Bowles Pearson
13.Margaret SinclairMarch 4, 1971 - 1977*Pierre Trudeau
14.Maureen McTeerJune 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980Joe Clark
15.Geills McCrae KilgourJune 30, 1984 - September 17, 1984John Napier Turner
16.Mila PivnickiSeptember 17, 1984 - June 25, 1993Brian Mulroney
17.Aline ChainéNovember 4, 1993 - December 12, 2003Jean Chrétien
18.Sheila Ann CowanDecember 12, 2003 -Paul Martin

(*)The Trudeaus separated in 1977 but did not obtain a divorce until 1984.

See also: Children of the Prime Ministers of Canada


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