LaPierre, Laurier (1929- )
When Patrick Watson was auditioning prospective co-hosts to work with Warner Troyer on the CBC-TV Inqui’ry series in 1963, there were two candidates, of whom Laurier LaPierre was chosen to appear on the show. The unsuccessful candidate was – Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Had things gone differently on that day, who knows who might have been Prime Minister of Canada?
Laurier LaPierre was born in Lac Megantic, P.Q. on November 21st 1929. He obtained his B.A in 1955, his Masters in 1957, and his Ph.D in History at the University of Toronto in 1962. From 1959 to 1978 he served on the faculties of the University of Western Ontario, Loyola College and McGill University, and during that time he developed a parallel career as a television personality.
Inqui’ry (pronounced In-Kwy-Ree: accent on the ‘qui…’), Laurier’s introduction to television, was a sharp CBC half-hour national affairs television series that set the stage for an even more gutsy series, This Hour Has Seven Days. Produced by Watson and Doug Leiterman, the one-hour Seven Days was launched in the fall of 1964, with Laurier, John Drainie and Carole Simpson as the first co-hosts. Watson himself later became a co-host.
When the series was cancelled in May 1966, in a blaze of publicity and recriminations, Laurier was fired, along with Watson. He did not then reappear in television until June 1969. This time – again with Watson – it was at CTV affiliate station CJOH, where Watson was VP Programming and chief newsreader, and Laurier headed up the production side of the operation, as well as making occasional appearances on camera. Their stay there was short, however, and they were gone from CJOH by the spring of 1970.
Over the next few years, Laurier was in demand as a guest on many shows, but it was not until 1975 that he returned to a series role. From February to June of that year, Laurier hosted an eponymous weekday late night talk show, originally called Midnight from Montreal, which played on the full network on Sunday nights. In 1976, a new independent station, CKVU-TV, opened in Vancouver, and Laurier was hired to co-host a nightly 2-hour program, The Vancouver Show, which he did from 1976 to 1982. Then it was back to occasional guest appearances until 1985, when he hosted a CBC radio series titled Disasters.
In the late eighties he was asked to host a planned new interview series on CBC Newsworld under the title A Matter of Minds, but although the program was piloted, it never went to series. In 1994, he was the host of Laurier LaPierre Presents, a series of eight half-hour independently produced documentaries, which were financed by a program development fund set up by CTV affiliate CJOH-TV Ottawa, who broadcast the series.
In February 1997, Laurier was appointed to the Board of Telefilm Canada, and became its Chairman in July 1998. He retained this position until being appointed as a Senator in June 2001, an appointment that was due to end in November 2004 on his reaching 75. He served on the Senate Standing Committees on Human Rights, Agriculture and Forestry, Defence and Security, and Transport and Communications. He served for a time as Chair of the Historica Foundation’s Heritage Fairs Program.
Laurier was the author and/or editor of several books, including Quebec: A Tale Of Love; Sir Wilfred Laurier and the Romance Of Canada; 1759: The Battle for Canada; The Apprenticeship of Canada, 1876-1914; Canada My Canada: What Happened; and Genesis of a Nation, British North America.
Laurier LaPierre was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1994. He held an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Prince Edward Island, and a Doctor of Letters from Brock University.
Laurier LaPierre died at age 83 on Dec 17 2012.
Written by Pip Wedge