Sir John Alexander Macdonald

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Who was John Alexander Macdonald ?

John Alexander Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada and the dominant figure of Canadian Confederation.



Significance of John Alexander Macdonald

John Alexander Macdonald's tenure in office spanned 19 years, making him the second longest serving Prime Minister of Canada. He is the only Canadian Prime Minister to win six majority governments.

He was the major proponent of a national railway, completed in 1885, linking Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. He won praise for having helped forge a nation of sprawling geographic size, with two diverse European colonial origins, and a multiplicity of cultural backgrounds and political views. Contents

Macdonald is depicted on the Canadian ten-dollar bill. He also has bridges, airports, and highways named after him (such as the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway), as well as a plethora of schools across the country. In Kingston, Macdonald Park and Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard are both named in his honour. Macdonald and his son, Hugh John Macdonald briefly sat together in the Canadian House of Commons prior to the elder Macdonald's death. Macdonald's funeral train carried his remains on June 10, 1891, from Ottawa to Kingston. Macdonald's funeral train carried his remains on June 10, 1891, from Ottawa to Kingston.

In 2004, Macdonald was nominated as one of the top 10 "Greatest Canadians" by viewers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He is considered by some Canadian political scientists to be the founder of the Red Tory tradition.


Background of John Alexander Macdonald

John A. MacDonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland on January 11, 1815. There is some debate over his actual birth date, as January 10 is the official date recorded in the Glasgow Registry Office, but January 11 is the day Macdonald and his family celebrated it.[1] His father was Hugh Macdonald, an unsuccessful merchant, who met and married his mother, Helen Shaw, around 1811. Together, they produced five children. The first-born, William died in infancy. The next was Margaret who was followed a year and a half later by John Alexander, then a younger brother, James and a baby sister named Louisa. After the failure of Hugh Macdonald's business ventures, the family emigrated to Kingston, Upper Canada in 1820 along with thousands of others seeking affordable land and promises of new prosperity.[2] In the Kingston area, Hugh Macdonald's business ventures were scarcely more successful than they had been in Scotland.[3] But the family still managed to scrape up the money to send MacDonald to Kingston's Midland Grammar School where, according to biographer Donald Creighton, he studied subjects such as Latin, French and mathematics. "Already he was a voracious reader," Creighton writes, "and he would sit for hours deep in a book, almost oblivious to what was going on."[4] At 14, MacDonald switched to a school for "general and classical education" founded by a newly-arrived Presbyterian minister from Scotland. It was one of the few schools in Upper Canada that taught both boys and girls.[5]


Books, Films and Videos About John Alexander Macdonald

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