Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

History General

Extraordinary Canadians: Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin

by (author) John Ralston Saul

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
General, Political, Pre-Confederation (to 1867)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Canada has no better interpreter than brilliant writer and thinker John Ralston Saul. Here he argues that modern Canada did not begin in 1867; rather its foundation was laid years earlier by two visionary men, Louis-Hipplyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin. Opposites in temperament and driven by intense experiences of love and tragedy, together they developed principles and programs that would help unite the country.

After the 1841 union the two leaders of Lower and Upper Canada worked to create a reformist movement for responsible government run by elected citizens instead of a colonial governor. During the “Great Ministry” of 1848-51, despite violent opposition, they set about creating a more equitable nation. They revamped judicial institutions, established a public education system, made bilingualism official, and designed a network of public roads.

Writing with verve and deep convictions, Saul restores these two extraordinary Canadians to rightful prominence.

About the author

John Ralston Saul is one of Canada’s leading social and political commentators. He is the author of numerous books on philosophy and contemporary politics, including Voltaire’s Bastards, Reflections Of A Siamese Twin, and most recently The Collapse of Globalism. Saul was the Massey lecturer in 1995, and won the 1996 Governor General’s Award for nonfiction for The Unconscious Civilization, based on those lectures. He is the former president of PEN Canada and the creator of the acclaimed LaFontaine Baldwin Lecture series. A regular speaker and panelist across Canada and internationally, John Ralston Saul currently lives in Toronto.

John Ralston Saul's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Required reading for Canadians.” - The StarPhoenix (Regina)

“Saul explains in superb factual detail, the creation of our democratic foundation…. The most compelling part of Saul’s narrative is his description of the friendship that bonded the two men.” - Winnipeg Free Press

“Saul’s snappy, well-written biography of LaFontaine and Baldwin covers their personal as well as political lives and stresses the close friendship which played a pivotal role in setting the framework for a new and dynamic country. It is a book which should be well received.” - The London Free Press

Other titles by John Ralston Saul