John A. Macdonald
Sir John Alexander Macdonald (January 1815 – 6 June 1891) was the first prime minister of Canada. He is considered one of the highest rated Prime Ministers in Canadian history. He served 19 years; only William Lyon Mackenzie King served longer. He died in Toronto, still in office; he remains respected in Canadian political history.
About John A. Macdonald in brief
Sir John Alexander Macdonald (January 1815 – 6 June 1891) was the first prime minister of Canada. Macdonald was born in Scotland; when he was a boy his family immigrated to Kingston in the Province of Upper Canada. As a lawyer he was involved in several high-profile cases and quickly became prominent in Kingston. By 1857, he had become premier under the colony’s unstable political system. In 1864, when no party proved capable of governing for long, Macdonald agreed to a proposal from his political rival, George Brown, that the parties unite in a Great Coalition to seek federation and political reform. He was the leading figure in the subsequent discussions and conferences, which resulted in the British North America Act, 1867 and the birth of Canada as a nation on 1 July 1867. He resigned from office over a scandal in which his party took bribes from businessmen seeking the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway, but was re-elected in 1878, continuing until he died in office in 1891. He has been criticized for his role in the Chinese Head Tax and federal policies towards indigenous peoples. His most controversial move was to approve the execution of Métis leader Louis Riel for treason in 1885; it alienated many francophones from his Conservative Party. He is considered one of the highest rated Prime Ministers in Canadian history. He served 19 years; only William Lyon Mackenzie King served longer. He remains respected for his key role in his country’s formation.
He died in Toronto, still in office; he remains respected in Canadian political history. His funeral was held on June 6, 1891, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. He left office as Prime Minister of Canada on July 1, 1868. He had a political career which spanned almost half a century. His father Hugh, an unsuccessful merchant, had married John’s mother, Helen Shaw, on 21 October 1811. John initially attended local schools. When he was aged 10, his family scraped together the money to send him to Midland District Grammar School. He later regretted leaving school when he did, remarking to his secretary Joseph Pope that if he had attended university, he might have embarked on a literary career. He went on to become a lawyer after leaving school. His mother was a lifelong influence on her son, helping him in his difficult first marriage and remaining a force in his life until her 1862 death. Between the two examinations they were apprenticed, or articled to, a prominent lawyer who was a well-regarded member of Kingston’s Scottish community. Between 1830 and 1830, students were examined and ending their tutelage in Toronto by The Law Society of UpperCanada. In 1830, he set up his own law firm, MacDonald Mackenzie and Mackenzie, which set up a law practice in Kingston, where he was also a prominent member of the community. He also served as a judge in the Supreme Court of Canada from 1844 to 1878.