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Lester Pearson reflects on a life in politics

The Story


In this 1972 clip, CBC Radio's Peter Gzowski interviews Lester Pearson about the first volume of his newly published memoirs. Retired for several years now and in ill health, Pearson talks about his memorable first encounter with Winston Churchill and the responsibilities of political life. This would be one of his last interviews. He would die two months later.

Medium: Radio
Program: This Country in the Morning
Broadcast Date: Oct. 19, 1972
Guest: Lester B. Pearson
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 5:09

Did You know?


• This October 1972 clip is both unique and bittersweet, as it would end up being one of Pearson's last interviews before he fell ill with cancer.
• He had already survived a bout with the disease in the summer of 1970, but had lost his right eye.
• When he retired Pearson began writing his planned three-volume memoirs, which were appropriately titled Mike.
• The first volume of his memoirs quickly became a best-seller and he travelled the country in support of it.
• Not long after this interview the cancer returned. Pearson fought it for two months before falling into a coma and passing away on Dec. 28.
• In addition to writing, Pearson spent time with his family in their home in the Ottawa enclave of Rockliffe. Diefenbaker was among his neighbours in the cozy, privileged community.
• Pearson maintained a busy schedule, flying around the world to advise various United Nations committees and commissions.
• He also became the first Canadian to deliver the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures.
• This Gzowski interview is one of the best of Pearson's many media appearances. Free of political allegiances, he seemed at ease and more willing to joke about simple things like his inability to screw in a light bulb at home.
• Pearson ends his chat with a comment about baseball. A lifetime fanatic, he had a television installed in his parliamentary office so he could keep up with the playoff games.
• In April 1969 the Montreal Expos asked Pearson to throw the first pitch at the inaugural game at Jarry Park.
• Pearson predicted at the end of this clip that the Cincinnati Reds would prevail in the ongoing 1972 championship series. The Oakland Athletics, in fact, beat the Reds in a tight seven-game series. 


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