Stories

The 200 story nodes created in commemoration of the Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial can be searched by more than twenty themes, through the pins on the interactive map and by date on the timeline. 

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Kingston City Hall and the Market Battery, 1857. Source: Queen's University Archives, William Sawyer fonds.

Kingston: A Geopolitical Location

1780-1890

Following the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists (UEL) in the 1780s, sensitivity between the Americans and the British over their mutual frontier was to have implications for Kingston for the n

Plan showing islands in Rice Lake circa 1875. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Kingston “Indians”

1837

In 1837, the “Kingston” Mississauga were granted title to their present location, Alderville, in Alnwick Township to the east of Peterborough.

Dr. James Sampson Becomes Mayor of Kingston

Dr. James Sampson Becomes Mayor of Kingston

1789-1861

Born in Ireland and educated in medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, James Sampson was a surgeon and educator dedicated to public welfare in Kingston.

Henry Cassady Becomes Mayor of Kingston

Henry Cassady Becomes Mayor of Kingston

1797-1839

Henry Cassady was the first mayor of Kingston to be born locally. His United Empire Loyalist family members were among the earliest settlers of Kingston.

John Counter becomes the first Mayor of Kingston

John Counter Becomes the First Mayor of Kingston

1799-1862

John Counter, the first mayor of the newly incorporated City of Kingston in 1846, was a baker turned entrepreneur.

Smallpox circa 1909. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

19th Century Diseases

1801-1900

Life is anything but easy for John A., his family and any resident of Kingston (or anywhere else) in the 19th century when it comes to health.

Execution of Stanislaus Lacroix on March 21, 1902 in Hull, Quebec. Source: Napoleon Belanger, Library and Archives Canada.

The Death Penalty

1759 - July 14, 1976

Like any 19th century lawyer in what is now Ontario and Canada, John A. was well acquainted with the death penalty.

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway

1800-1900

With no Highway 401 connecting Kingston to the rest of Ontario, Kingston’s location on the shores of Lake Ontario contributed to its significance. The Great Lakes and the St.

The Architecture of William Coverdale

The Architecture of William Coverdale

1842-1851

Born in England in 1801, it is unclear when William Coverdale arrived in Kingston though the birth of his son in Kingston is recorded in 1833.

Benjamin Disraeli circa 1878 by W. & D. Downey. Source: Mansell/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.

Benjamin Disraeli

December 12, 1804 - April 19, 1881

Sir John A. bore an uncanny likeness to famed Victorian British Prime Minister and novelist Benjamin Disraeli.

Joseph Howe by William James Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Joseph Howe

December 13, 1804 – June 1, 1873

A brilliant journalist and scholar, Joseph Howe of Nova Scotia, was the leader of the anti-Confederation forces in his home province.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Becomes Mayor of Kingston in 1838 and again in 1847

Thomas Kirkpatrick Becomes Mayor of Kingston in 1838 and Again in 1847

1805-1870

Thomas Kirkpatrick, born near Dublin, Ireland, arrived in Kingston to study law and later became the town solicitor (1839-1846).

Portrait of Louis Riel circa 1875. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A.'s Assessment of First Peoples

1815-2015

Criticism has been directed at John A.'s racist assessment of Canada's First Peoples and the political insensitivity of his authorization of the execution of Louis Riel.

Alvah Bradish's ad for portrait painting in Kingston. Source: Chronicle & Gazette, August 10, 1842.

Alvah Bradish

1806-1901

The American artist Alvah Bradish painted portraits of more than 500 friends, state and national leaders in his 60 year career.

St Mary’s Cathedral before the enlargements of 1889. Source: Henderson booklet on Kingston c1888, coll. J. McKendry

Kingston’s Saints: St. Mary’s

1808-1880

A few Roman Catholics continued on in Kingston following the British capture of Fort Frontenac and their spiritual needs were first met by a small church built on the corner of William and Bagot st

Robert Charles Archibald McLean Becomes Mayor of Kingston

Robert Charles Archibald McLean Becomes Mayor of Kingston

1811-unknown

Born in Martinique, West Indies where his Irish father was serving in the Royal Artillery, Robert Charles Archibald McLean was a physician and one of the most popular men in Kingston.

William Ford Jr. becomes Mayor of Kingston

William Ford Jr. becomes Mayor of Kingston

1811-1893

William Ford Jr. was born in Ireland and immigrated to Kingston as a young man. He was a keen and successful business owner and active member of many councils, committees and social organizations.

Brunswick Place in Glasgow has been identified as the likely birthplace of Sir John A. Macdonald. Source: Archives of Ontario.

Glasgow, Scotland

1815 ,

John A. was born in Glasgow, Scotland, coming to Kingston and area with his family when the future Prime Minister was five years old, in 1820.

Sir George Étienne Cartier by Notman & Son. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. (colleagues)

1815-1873

Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier were close friends, political colleagues, and shared a vision of a continental Canada.

Hon. John A. Macdonald, Hon. George-Etienne Cartier and Lieutenant-Colonel John G. Irvine. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. (confederation)

1815-1873

Macdonald and Cartier were united in their commitment to integrate the Maritimes into Confederation at the Charlottetown Conference (1864).

Sir John A Macdonald circa 1842 or 1843. Artist unknown. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

A Man of His Time

1815-2015

The bicentenary of John Alexander Macdonald's birth in 2015 has prompted many assessments of his life, legacy and role. Some have focussed on him as an iconic figure in the national history.

Sir John A Macdonald circa 1888. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Patriarch of Canada

1815-2015

John A. Macdonald is rendered as the "patriarch of Canada" in an era when the concept of nation-state had not yet been articulated.

Hugh John Macdonald by William Sawyer 1852. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Birth of John Alexander Macdonald

January 10-11, 1815

John Alexander Macdonald, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on either January 10 or January 11, 1815.

George Brown addressing an audience during an election campaign by Charles William Jefferys. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

George Brown and Sir John A.

November 29, 1818 - May 9, 1880

Sir John A. had no greater foe than Liberal – or Reform as the party was known in the early days – leader George Brown of Toronto.

A New Map of Upper and Lower Canada, 1798; Stockdale Piccadilly. Source: Samuel Peter Jarvis and William Dummer Powell Collection, Archives of Ontario

Moving from Scotland to Canada

1820

John A. was five years old when he left Scotland, bound for Kingston, Upper Canada, in 1820.

Hugh Macdonald's Store in Kingston. Source: Anecdotal Life of Sir John Macdonald, by Emerson Bristol Biggar, 1891.

Hugh Macdonald's General Store

1820 - 1821

Three months after their arrival in Upper Canada, Hugh Macdonald set up a general store on King Street in Kingston, where he sold an eclectic collection of groceries, liquor, gun paraphernalia and

John A.'s Early Educational Experience

1820-1830

At age 10, Macdonald is sent to the Midland District Grammar School (replaced by Sydenham Public School) in Kingston; an academy specializing in mathematics and Latin.

Fort Henry, Point Frederick and Tete du Pont Barracks, Kingston, from the old redoubt (1841), Lieutenant Philip John Bainbrigge (1817-1881), a Royal Engineer posted to Canada from 1836 to 1842. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Macdonald Family Arrives in Kingston

1820-1830

When the Macdonald family arrived in Upper Canada in the 1820s, Kingston was rough and rude with a reputation drunkenness and prostitution.

William Sawyer

William Sawyer

1820-1889

William Sawyer was a Canadian-born, self-taught painter and, later in his life, a photographer.

Macdonald's home in the Bay of Quinte region. Source: City of Kingston.

John A.'s Accent

1820-1891

Macdonald is often played on TV and in live theatre with a thick Scottish accent. But Alexander Campbell, his law partner and political ally for more than 50 years, observes that John A.

Eliza Grimason. Source: Newland family private collection, reprinted in Lena Newman, The John A. Macdonald Album, Tundra Books, 1974.

Eliza Grimason

1821-1916

Of the several women in John A. Macdonald's life, Eliza Grimason stands out first as a client and later as a confidante and close friend.

Eliza Grimason. Source: Newland family private collection, reprinted in Lena Newman, The John A. Macdonald Album, Tundra Books, 1974.

Eliza Grimason's Influence

1821-1916

In an age of female subservience, Eliza Grimason was a populist leader in the Kingston community. As a Protestant Irishwoman, she was a member of St.

Helen Shaw Macdonald circa 1850. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

James Macdonald's Death

1822

John A. Macdonald was the middle child of five born to Hugh and Helen (Shaw) Macdonald. He had an older brother who died in infancy.

Sir Alexander Campbell. Source: Library and Archives Canada

Sir Alexander Campbell

March 9, 1822 - May 24, 1892

Sir John A. had no closer confidant in Kingston than his fellow Father of Confederation, Sir Alexander Campbell.

The Macdonald Homestead at Adolphustown. Source: Anecdotal Life of Sir John Macdonald, Emerson Bristol Biggar, 1891.

The Macdonalds Relocate to Hay Bay

1824

After James Macdonald's horrifying death and the failure of Hugh Macdonald's Kingston ventures, the family decided to relocate to Hay Bay, on the Bay of Quinte, west of Kingston.

From the New Forts - Point Levi - Looking down the St. Lawrence by John Herbert Caddy circa 1841. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Kingston Bypassed: Imperial Policy and Canals

1825-1959

The St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and their tributary rivers were corridors of movement since the prehistory of the Kingston region.

The house on Rideau Street where John A. was thought to have boarded while he attended Midland District Grammar School. John A. lived here again later in life as well. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Attends Midland District Grammar School

1827-1829

Shortly after the Macdonalds moved to the Bay of Quinte area, Hugh and Helen Macdonald decided to spend a good portion of their savings to send 10-year-old John A.

Kingston, Upper Canada. Source: Library and Archives of Canada.

The Cruickshank Grammar School

1829

In 1829, the Macdonalds moved John A. to Reverend John Cruickshank's new, co-educational Kingston Grammar School.

Legal Apprenticeship

1830

John A.'s formal education ends at age 15, when he begins articling with George Mackenzie, a Kingston lawyer and friend of the Macdonald family.

Watercolour by George St. Vincent Whitmore in 1836 of the interior of Fort Henry. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana.

Military Pressence in Early Kingston

1830-1865

The 1830s and 1850s witnessed a burgeoning military presence in Kingston.

Map of Wolfe Island showing the canal from the illustrated Atlas of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (1878). Source: The Canadian County Atlas Project, Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University Library.

Kingston Bypassed: Railways

1830-1892

Another challenge to Kingston’s lake/river transhipment function was a new technology: rail.

Unveiling of memorial cross commemorating the Irish immigrants who died of cholera in 1849 in 1909. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Kingston's Cholera Epidemic

1831-1854

From 1831 to 1854, five major cholera epidemics were responsible for the deaths of nearly 10 per cent of Kingston’s inhabitants.

Political Tensions and the Cholera Epidemic

Political Tensions and the Cholera Epidemic

1831-1854

As the cholera epidemic grew, and Kingston’s best and brightest continued to fall victim, panic and political tensions flared.

Sir John A Macdonald circa 1842 or 1843. Artist unknown. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Manages a Legal Office in Napanee

1832

In 1832, George Mackenzie opens a branch office in Napanee and sends 17-year-old John A. to manage it.

Kingston Penitentiary circa 1906. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Construction of Kingston Penitentiary

1833-1835

The Penitentiary has long been one of the defining institutions of Kingston.

Harriet Dobbs Cartwright. Source: Queen's University Archives.

Harriet Dobbs Cartwright

1833-1887

Harriet Dobbs Cartwright came to Kingston from Ireland in 1833 with her new husband, Robert David Cartwright.

George Mackenzie's Death

1834

George Mackenzie dies suddenly during the 1834 cholera outbreak. John A. grieves the death of the man who had taught him so much and gave him his start in life.

Kingston Mechanic's Institution

Kingston Mechanics' Institution

1834-1911

In 1840, the Kingston Mechanic's Institute was six years old and the struggle to find stability came to an end.

The unveiling of 'Holding Court.'  L-R: Robert Quaiff (Mayor of Prince Edward County), Daryl Kramp (M.P. Hastings and Prince Edward), Janet Minor (Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada), Ruth Abernethy (Artist), David Warrick (Chair of the Macdonald Project). Source: The Macdonald Project.

Sir John A and "The County"

October 8, 1834

While often referred to as Macdonald of Kingston, he and his family originally had close associations with Prince Edward County and the Bay of Quinte region to the west of Kingston from 1824-1835.

The unveiling of 'Holding Court.'  L-R: Robert Quaiff (Mayor of Prince Edward County), Daryl Kramp (M.P. Hastings and Prince Edward), Janet Minor (Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada), Ruth Abernethy (Artist), David Warrick (Chair of the Macdonald Project). Source: The Macdonald Project.

John A.'s First Legal Case

October 8, 1834

Macdonald's first legal case ended in a  fistfight with the opposing counsel at the Picton courthouse.

Sand Lake, Rideau Canal looking down, 34 miles from Kingston, Ontario circa 1854. Source:  Library and Archives Canada.

Kingston's Backcountry

1835-1868

Kingston’s hinterland is dominated by the Frontenac Axis of the Pre-Cambrian Canadian Shield consisting of outcrops of igneous and metamorphic rocks, swamps and forests.

Oliver Mowat. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Oliver Mowat and John A.

1836-1840

Unlike John A. Macdonald, Oliver Mowat is quiet, sober and deeply religious.

John A. Macdonald's receipt for application to the Law Society of Upper Canada (Note the misspelling of Macdonald as McDonald). Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Becomes a Fully Licensed Lawyer

February 7, 1836

Two weeks after his 21st birthday, John A. braved the winter conditions and travelled by stagecoach to Toronto to sit the bar exam. On February 7, 1836 a triumphant John A.

Lady Agnes Macdonald circa 1873 by William Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Susan Agnes Bernard

August 24, 1836 – September 5, 1920

Susan Agnes Bernard, who grew up in Jamaica, married John A. , in England, in early 1867. Her brother, Hewitt, served as Macdonald's private secretary.

John A. Joins the Local Militia

1837

As an able male, Macdonald is required to join the local militia. They train on the Cricket Field, just south of the present-day Frontenac County Court House, a few days each summer.

Shooting of Col. Robert Moodie in front of John Montgomery's tavern, Yonge St., w. side, near Montgomery Ave. by Charles William Jefferys. Source: Toronto Public Library.

John A. Takes Up Arms

1837-1838

John A. Macdonald bore arms during the Rebellion of 1837 motivated by a demand for political reform.

Site of the Battle of the Windmill, Prescott. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Nils von Schoultz

1837-1838

The most prominent criminal case in Macdonald's law career involves Nils von Schoultz, leader of a band of American-based raiders who attack near Prescott during the Rebellion of 1837.

Salon Theatre's Queen Victoria (Laura Casselman) and Sir John A Macdonald (puppeteer: Mathew Hunt). Source: City of Kingston.

Queen Victoria

June 20, 1837 – January 22, 1901

Her Majesty Queen Victoria reigned during the entire period Sir John A. served as Prime Minister. She knighted the Dominion's first Prime Minister in 1867.

St. Helen's

St. Helen's

1838

In July 1836, St Helen’s was begun for Helen and Thomas Kirkpatrick, a member of the Family Compact and a lawyer.

Unsuccessful Invasion of Kingston

Unsuccessful Invasion of Kingston

1838

By 1838, numerous secret societies of trained and armed Americans had formed with the intention of liberating Upper Canada from British rule.

Lord Durham's Report on the Affairs of British North America

Lord Durham's Report on the Affairs of British North America

1838-1839

John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, arrived in the Canadas in 1838 to investigate, on behalf of Britain, the causes of the rebellions.

"Lillie Williams alias Harrington" from Arresting Images. Source: The OPP Museum.

Women and "Disorderly Conduct" in the First Capital

1838-1850

In a report by the Grand Jury on the state of the District Gaol (attached to the court house, King at Clarence), there are no less than 35 to 40 criminal prisoners, accommodated four to a cell in s

In the left corner, the windows of the rooms turned into jail cells at Fort Henry have been barred. Watercolour by Lt. George St. Vincent Whitemore of the Royal Engineers, 1841. Source: National Archives of Canada.

The 1838 Escape from Fort Henry

June 29, 1838.

On June 29th, 1838 the prisoners of the Rebellion in Upper Canada escaped through one of Fort Henry’s underground chambers.

Sir Alexander Campbell. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Alexander Campbell Becomes John A.'s Second Articling Student

1839

In 1839 Alexander Campbell becomes Macdonald's second articling student (Oliver Mowat is his first). Four years later Macdonald makes him a junior partner.

Regiopolis College

Regiopolis College

1839

Bishop Alexander Macdonell laid the cornerstone for Regiopolis, originally meant to be a seminary to train priests, in June 1839.

Sir John A Macdonald circa 1842 or 1843. Artist unknown. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Brandt Trial

1839

In the autumn of 1839, John A. defended Abraham Brandt, a Mohawk man, against the charge of murder in the brutal beating and death of fellow Mohawk man, John Marrikell. John A.

Sir John A. and Queen's University

December 18 1839 - October 16, 1841

On Dec. 18, 1839, the day after the bill was introduced to the Legislature for the establishment of a Presbyterian college to train ministers, a meeting was held in St.

The view down Brock Street from Wellington Street circa 1875. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Establishing the Fabric of Kingston

1840-1847

Kingston wasn’t always the “Limestone City.” At one time, most of the houses were built of wood which contributed to the severity of the fire of April 17-18, 1840 that destroyed most of the downtow

Henry Smith Jr. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Henry Smith Jr.

1840-1850

Henry Smith Jr. is an immigrant from England and three years older than John A. Macdonald.

Fire insurance map of Kingston circa 1911. On this map the Stuartsville of the 1840s is contained within lots 17, 20 and 21, now near the heart of Queen's University campus. The centre of Picardville is lot 11 notable for the mention of Frontenac Park, now McBurney Park (locally referred to as Skeleton Park), but was in the 1840s still the Upper Burial Ground. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Kingston's Slums

1840-1850

Kingston had two slum neighbourhoods in the 1840s: Stuartsville west of Barrie Street, and Picardville between Princess Street and Raglan Road.

Morton's Brewery Rebuilt

Morton's Brewery Rebuilt

1840-1864
In 1840, the Morton Brewery and Distillery reopened and included the buildings that now form the base of the Tett Centre and the Isabel Bader.
Bellevue House. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Bellevue House

1840 - present day

Once home to John A. and his first wife, Isabella, Bellevue House, an architectural gem and a National Historic Site, was officially opened as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen in 1967.

The Great Kingston Conflagration

The Great Kingston Conflagration

April 17, 1840

As American Steamer, the Telegraph, attempts to leave Coupler’s Wharf, sparks fly from its flume and ignite the largest fire in the history of Kingston.

After the Great Conflagration

After the Great Conflagration

1840-1847

The Great Conflagration was the largest fire in Kingston to date and marked a turning point in the development of fire prevention.

Kingston Named the Capital of Canada

Kingston Named the Capital of Canada

1841

As Ontario's oldest settlement and a key naval and military town, Kingston had expected to be named the capital of Upper Canada.

102-114 Yonge St

102-114 Yonge St

1841

From the 1857-58 city directory: “The spacious mansion lately erected by Colin Miller, Esq., and its ample garden grounds, form a pleasing feature midst the bustle and business of a principal city

Hardy's Buildings

Hardy's Buildings

1841

During the First Capital period (1841-44), there was a flurry of building activity and Ontario Street, being on the waterfront, was a desirable site for commerce and industry.

Ramsay and Ford newspaper notice. Source: Chronicle and Gazette, 21 May 1841, page 3, column 2.

Kingston's First Photographers

1841

Kingston’s first known photographers arrived in the city in May 1841, two years after photography was invented in Europe. Messrs.

Rockwood House

Rockwood House

1841

This Palladian villa is of national significance in the history of Canadian architecture.

St. Andrew's Mance

St. Andrew's Mance

1841

In late June 1841, George Browne, in town as the government architect while Kingston was the capital of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, called for tenders to build St Andrew’s Presbyterian Manse in

Decision Made to Build a Civic Building Suitable to the New Capital of Canada

Decision Made to Build a Civic Building Suitable to the New Capital of Canada

1841-1842

In 1841, the town of Kingston acquired what had been a privately owned lot at the corner of Ontario and Brock streets in an effort to gain as large a building site as possible for the proposed town

Kingston as the capital of the United Provinces of Canada. Source: City of Kingston

Kingston Becomes the Capital of the United Provinces of Canada

1841-1844

During John A.'s early years, his entire community of Kingston was – briefly – the centre of an exciting colonial moment.

Confederation Celebrations in Market Square on July 1, 1867. Source: Queen's University Archives.

John A.'s Community Presence

1841-1849

Apart from is career in law and politics, Macdonald was a visible and active presence in 19th century Kingston society.

Peter Jones from his History of the Ojebway Indians with Especial Reference to their Conversion to Christianity; with a Brief Memoir of the Writer.

John A. and the Union Church

February 1, 1841

On what later became the site of the First Congregationalist Church of Kingston, the Union Church served various congregations who had not yet built independent churches in Kingston.

Students with home-built car, Queen's University, Kingston, ON circa 1916 by Clifford M. Johnston. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Queen's University

October 16, 1841 - present day

Sir John A. Macdonald attended and participated in the earliest Kingston meetings that led to the establishment of what is now Queen's University.

Commercial Mart

Commercial mart

1842

Early in 1842, while Kingston was still the capital of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, government architect George Browne called for tenders for “Three Cut-Stone Wholesale Stores” for merchant Charl

Newcourt House

Newcourt House

1842

During the First Capital, the Honorable Hamilton H.

Wellington Terrace

Wellington Terrace

1842

“Capt. Jackson’s new stone buildings” were mentioned in July 1842.

Abraham Nordheimer. Source: The Jews of Kingston, A Microcosm of Canadian Jewry?; Marion E. Meyer; 1983; The Limestone Press.

Abraham Nordheimer

1842-1844

Abraham Nordheimer was the first Jewish  inhabitant of Kingston.  He moved here in 1842 and placed an advertisement in the Kingston Chronicle and Gazette offering "...lessons on the Piano Forte, Vi

A Poem "To the Ladies of the Female Benevolent Hospital Kingston"

A Poem "To the Ladies of the Female Benevolent Hospital Kingston"

February 19, 1842

Poetry was a common feature of 19th-century newspapers and was often published anonymously or signed with initials only.

Charles Dickens on Fort Henry

Charles Dickens on Fort Henry

May, 1842

On his 1842 visit to Kingston, Charles Dickens made the following observations, recorded in American Notes, about Fort Henry: "There is a bomb-proof fort here of great strength, which occu

Charles Dickens on Kingston Penitentiary

Charles Dickens on Kingston Penitentiary

May, 1842

On his 1842 visit to Kingston, Charles Dickens made the following observations, recorded in American Notes, about Kingston Penitentiary:

Charles Dickens Visits Kingston

Charles Dickens Visits Kingston

May, 1842

In May of 1842, following an extensive trip to the United States, Charles Dickens made a short trip through parts of Canada beginning in Niagara Falls, passing through Cobourg and Kingston and then

Criticism of the Construction of City Hall

Criticism of the Construction of City Hall

1843

In a letter to the editor, a “Kingstonian” has some harsh words about the city hall, “now in course of erection,” including: "It is said that there are no drains sunk, nor water closets erected; th

Bellevue House

Bellevue House

1843

In the early 1840s, the style of Bellevue House was unusual in the Kingston area and, in fact, in all the province, as a moderate-sized house in Italian or Tuscan style with the picturesque composi

Kingston City Hall and the Market Battery, 1857. Source: Queen's University Archives, William Sawyer fonds.

City Hall Offered to the Government of the Province of Canada, if Kingston Could Remained the Capital

1843

The city council offers -- to no avail -- their new city hall for use as a parliament building to the Canadian parliament in a desperate bid to retain Kingston as the capital city of the United Pro

Sir John A Macdonald circa 1842 or 1843. Artist unknown. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Travels to England (1843)

1843

In 1843, Macdonald travels to England, in part to regain his health and clear his mind from recent events including the death of his father.

St Mary's Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral

1843

During the time when Kingston was the capital of Lower Canada and Upper Canada, St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral was designed in Gothic Revival style by P.-L.

St. Mark's Church, Barriefield

St. Mark's Church, Barriefield

1843

“Built by Subscription A.D. 1843 A. Brunell Inventor” is inscribed on one of the church’s stones.

The First and Last Words of a Pastor to His People

The First and Last Words of a Pastor to His People

1843

In June of 1843, less than a month after his death, the first and last sermons of Reverend Robert David Cartwright of St.

Sir John A. circa 1856 by F.S. Richardson. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Trust and Loan Company

1843-1948

In 1843 Macdonald helped secure the charter for the Kingston-based Trust and Loan Company, a mortgage bank.

Possibly the earliest photograph of John A. Macdonald, circa 1840s. Source: Library and Archives Canada

Alderman Macdonald

1843-1844

In the municipal election on March 28, 1843, Macdonald ran for his first political post and was elected to Kingston's town council. He was carried from the tavern by his supporters, atop a chair.

Report on Prisoners Brought to Stationhouse (bottom portion). Source: City of Kingston.

Report of Prisoners Brought to Stationhouse in April of 1843

April 1843

On April 8, 1843, Samuel Shaw, Chief Constable of Police from 1840 to 1849, submitted a “Report of Prisoners Brought to Stationhouse” (the framed recent copy is available for viewing in the city ha

Statement of Marriage between John A. Macdonald and Isabella Clark. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Marries Isabella Clark

September 1, 1843

In the summer of 1843, John A.'s cousin, Isabella, arrived in Kingston from England. Before long, Macdonald was courting her.

Local Focus

1843-1891

Macdonald appreciation the need to sustain and nurture Kingston’s role in the national water-transport system of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence.

City Hall's Police Holding Cells

City Hall's Police Holding Cells

1844-1906

Only one of the four cells has a window, and it is yet to be determined if that was a later change. They range in size from 5’10½” x 7’11” to 9’7” x 10’.

Kingston City Hall and Market circa 1910. Source: Archives of Ontario.

Kingston's City Hall

1844-present day

Designed by famed architect George Brown and now a National Historic Site, Kingston's majestic City Hall was completed in 1844. Even today City Hall commands the Kingston skyline.

Sir John A. Macdonald, date unknown. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The 1844 Election Platform

October 14 & 15, 1844

In 1844, an election was called in the Province of Canada. John A. stood as the Conservative candidate for Kingston. His platform was about building roads and infrastructure.

225 King St East at William. Source: photograph by Jennifer McKendry

Bank of Montreal

1845

It was unusual to find significant construction in the immediate aftermath of Kingston being abandoned as the capital in 1844, but the Bank of Montreal proved an exception, although the as-built st

Kingston Penetentiary North Lodge

Kingston Penitentiary North Lodge

1845

In the autumn of 1840, architect William Coverdale presented his plans for a stone perimeter wall to replace the decaying wooden fence protecting Kingston Penitentiary.

City Hall and Martello Tower circa 1916 by Clifford M. Johnston. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Martello Towers

1845-1848

The four British military fortifications called Martello Towers that still "guard" Kingston today, were constructed in 19th century Kingston.

Portrait of Isabella Clark by William Sawyer. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Isabella Macdonald's Health Takes a Turn for the Worse

1845-1857

While Macdonald was away for weeks of time in Montreal (then the seat of parliament for the Province of Canada), Isabella began suffering from an illness that left her plagued with aches, pains and

Elizabeth Cottage

Elizabeth Cottage

1846

Why did architect Edward Horsey build this attractive and stylistically innovative house in 1846 during the depression after Kingston was abandoned as the capital of Upper Canada and Lower Canada?

Market Battery

Market Battery

1846

When the Market Battery was demolished in 1872 in today’s Confederation Park on Ontario St, we lost one of the most architecturally pleasing military installations in Kingston.

Sir John A. and Kingston General Hospital

May 30, 1849

As Kingston grew, so did the need for medical care. In May 1846, Macdonald presented a memorandum to the Governor General requesting the establishment of a hospital and £300 was awarded.

Telegraph poles (loaded with wires). Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Telegraph Arrives in Kingston

1847

In 1847 the communications revolution spurred by the invention of the telegraph arrived in Kingston and decorated the landscape with the required poles and cables.

Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph's caring for typhus victims, Kingston waterfront, 1847. Artist unknown. Source: St. Joseph Region Archives of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, Kingston K-135.

The 1847 Typhus Epidemic

1847

In 1847, Kingston harboured thousands of Irish emigrants fleeing the Great Famine.

John Alexander Macdonald Jr.

1847-1848

Born to John A. and his wife Isabella in 1847, Sir John A.'s namesake did not live long.

Hugh John Macdonald by William Sawyer 1852. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Births of John Alexander and Hugh John Macdonald

1847-1850

After their Christmas holiday together in New York City, Isabella found herself pregnant. John A. was by Isabella's side when she delivered a healthy baby boy on Aug. 2, 1847.

St. George's Anglican Church - architectural drawing. Source: Queen's University Archives.

John Harvey and St. George's Church

1847-1896

John Harvey, a member of the Royal Artilliary was stationed in Kingston in the 1840s.  During this time he conducted bible classes at St.

Kingston Penitentiary circa 1906. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

George Brown's 1849 Report on Kingston Penitentiary

1849-1856

Macdonald denounces George Brown's 1849 report on Kingston Penitentiary and accuses Brown of bias. His defence of warden Smith, father of his close friend Henry Smith, is unwavering.

Cataraqui Cemetary

Cataraqui Cemetary

1850

By 1850, the year Cataraqui Cemetery was incorporated, the city’s graveyards were filled, and a new site for a “garden” or “rural” cemetery, well removed from the downtown, was needed.  Seventy acr

John Rose by William James Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. and John Rose Go Bar-Hopping in the USA

1850

A long-time confidant and drinking companion of John A. is Montreal lawyer and businessman John Rose.

Montreal: Banquet Tendered to Mr. Thomas White, Jr. Sir John A. Macdonald Replying to the Toast of her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. and French Canada

1850-1860

Part of Sir John A. Macdonald's greatness and one of his most important legacies revolves around his treatment of French Canada.

Bank of Montreal entrance at City Hall circa 1920.

Bank of British North America

1850-1926

Of all the tenants housed in City Hall over its 170-plus history, none had a longer stay than the Bank of British North America (BBNA).  Beginning in 1850 it occupied space in the south wing with o

City Hall Skating Rink. Source: Queen's University Archives.

Early Skating in Kingston

1850 - present day

Located on the lake side of City Hall, near the Market Battery, the City Hall Skating Rink provided winter outdoor activity for the community long before there was a Parks and Recreation department

Kingston City Hall and the Market Battery, 1857. Source: Queen's University Archives, William Sawyer fonds.

Kingston at Mid-Centry: An Overview

1850 - present day

By 1850, the future of Kingston was being determined by several factors.

City of Kingston Water Works

City of Kingston Water Works

1851-present day

Built in 1851, the City of Kingston Water Works, affectionately known as the Pump House, was Kingston’s first water-pumping station.

156 King St East at Lower Union St. Source: photograph by Jennifer McKendry

Earl Place

1851

From the 1857-58 city directory: “The spacious mansion lately erected by Colin Miller, Esq., and its ample garden grounds, form a pleasing feature midst the bustle and business of a principal city

Roselawn (Donald Gordon Conference Centre), 421 Union St, in 1992. Source: photograph by Jennifer McKendry

Roselawn

1851

From the 1857-58 city directory: “Roselawn…a large heavy stone building surrounded with fine grounds, and forming a residence fit for any gentleman in the country, and with the tame deer sporting t

Portrait of James Williamson by William Sawyer circa 1887. Source: Queen's Archives.

James Williamson Marries Margaret Macdonald

October 19, 1852

Married to Macdonald's sister Margaret, James Williamson is far more than a brother-in-law to John A.

Crimean cannon in City Park. Source: City of Kingston.

Crimean War Cannons at the Sir John A. Statue in Kingston's City Park

1853 - present day

The two cannons flanking the Sir John A. statue in Kingston's City Park were captured in the Crimean War (1853 – 1856) as English trophies of war.

Mr. Joseph Pope by William James Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Sir Joseph Pope

August 16, 1854 - December 2, 1926

Sir Joseph Pope was the famous – and loyal – private assistant to Sir John A. Macdonald during the Father of Confederation's latter years.

John Stephen Willison by Unknown - The Year book of Canadian art. 1912/13. Source: University of Toronto, Roberts Collection.

Sir John Willison

November 9, 1856 - May 27, 1927

Sir John Willison was one of the leading journalists of his time and he chronicled the lives, legacies and politics of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Hugh John Macdonald circa 1871 by William Toply. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Hugh John Macdonald and His Relationship with John A.

1857-1877

Following the death of Isabella Macdonald when their son was just 7, Hugh John Macdonald lived with his aunt, Margaret, and her husband James Williamson at Heathfield in Kingston.

Morley Indian Residential School - McDougall Orphanage, students, Morley, Alberta circa 1885-1890 by David Ewens. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Macdonald and First Peoples

1857-1887

Macdonald has been accused of insensitivity, even hostility, to the First Peoples marked by his policies of cultural assimilation (some would say cultural genocide), a policy of reservations that l

Library of Parliament after 1885 by William Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Library of Parliament

1857-present

Today Canada's Library of Parliament is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful parts of the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

The Gradual Civilization Act

1857 - present day

The Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of Indian Tribes in this Province, and to Amend the Laws Relating to Indians was passed by the Province of Canada in 1857 when Macdon

Newspaper notice of Isabella Macdonald's death and funeral. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Isabella Macdonald's Death

December 28, 1857

Sadly, on Dec. 28, 1857, one month after John A. had been appointed premier of the Province of Canada, Isabella died, bringing to a close a forlorn and unhappy period. John A.

City of Ottawa, Canada West by Stent and Laver, circa 1860 (prior to the Parliament Buildings). Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Ottawa Becomes the Capital

January 1858

For years the seat of Parliament had been alternating every four years between Quebec City and Toronto, but this was costly and disruptive and a permanent capital was needed.

John A. Macdonald, June 1, 1858. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Double Shuffle

1858

1858 was an arduous year for John A. He was mourning the death of Isabella and his mother was in very poor health.

Sir Alexander Campbell. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Alexander Campbell's Political Career

1858-1864

A year after Alexander Campbell's bitter disolution of his partnership with Macdonald he is elected to Kingston City Council to represent Victoria Ward.

The view from the tower of St. Mary's Cathedral, 279 Johnson St., Kingston, ON circa 1916 by Clifford M. Johnston. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Edward Horan Appointed as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kingston

January 8, 1858 - June 16, 1874

Edward Horan is appointed Roman Catholic bishop of Kingston in 1858, and soon makes the acquaintance of Macdonald. Both men are shrewd politicians.

The Ploughboy off Lonely Island, Georgian Bay, by William Armstrong. Source: Toronto Public Library, Baldwin Collection.

A Near Fatal Trip on the Ploughboy

July 1, 1859

In the summer of 1859, John A. was aboard the Ploughboy heading across Georgian Bay when the ship's engine failed.

From oil painting by F. A. Pratt, reprinted in Lena Newman, The John A. Macdonald Album, Tundra Books, 1974

Eliza Grimason and the Grimason House

1860

John A.'s closest female companion in Kingston is Eliza Grimason. She and husband Henry first rent, then buy Grimason House (now the Royal Tavern) from John A. in the early 1860s.

Sir Henry Smith. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Henry Smith Jr.

1860-1867

According to biographer Richard Gwyn, Macdonald and Henry Smith Jr.

Charles Tupper circa 1873. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. and Charles Tupper

1860-1891

As premier of Nova Scotia, Charles Tupper leads the reluctant province into Confederation in 1867, then goes on to have a long and complicated relationship with Macdonald.

The Prince of Wales. Source: Visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to the British North American provinces and United States in the year 1860, by Robert Cellem, Toronto : H. Rowsell, 1861, Robarts Library, University of Toronto. (For the online book, visit: https://archive.org/details/visitofhisroyalh00celluoft)

The Prince of Wales Visits and the Orangemen

July 23, 1860 - September 19, 1860

Queen Victoria's 18 year-old son, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, visited the Province of Canada in 1860. John A.

Hon. John A. Macdonald, Attorney General, Canada West circa 1861. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Responsibility for the Cancellation of the Visit from the Prince of Wales Lands with John A.

August 25, 1860

Responsibility for the public debacle of the Prince of Wales' cancelled visit to Kingston was attributed to Macdonald and, despite his Orange connections, the incident threatened his candidacy in t

A picnic at Sloat's Lake near Sydenham, Township of Loughborough, 1861, by Thomas Burrowes. Source: Archives of Ontario

The Fallout of the Royal Visit

1860

Following the disastrous visit to Kingston by the Prince of Wales, The Globe accused Macdonald of incompetence.

John A. Macdonald, June 1, 1858. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. the Business Man

1860-1870

In his mid-twenties Macdonald turns his hand to business.

The unveiling of 'Holding Court.'  L-R: Robert Quaiff (Mayor of Prince Edward County), Daryl Kramp (M.P. Hastings and Prince Edward), Janet Minor (Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada), Ruth Abernethy (Artist), David Warrick (Chair of the Macdonald Project). Source: The Macdonald Project.

John A.'s Picton

1861

Macdonald may be “Kingston's favourite son,” but he also claims many happy youthful moments elsewhere.

Painting of waterfront near Portsmouth Village by Charles Wrenshall (1838-1928). Source: private collection.

The 1861 Election Celebration

1861

Macdonald celebrated his 1861 election victory at Hazeldell, the home in Portsmouth village where his mother and family were living.

Oliver Mowat. Source: The Canadian Portrait Gallery, Project Gutenberg Canada.

The Battle for the 1861 Election

1861

In the 1861 general election, John A. found himself in a tight battle for his Kingston seat, running against his former schoolmate Oliver Mowat.

Wounded soldiers under trees, Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg. After the battle of Spotsylvania, 1864 by Matthew Brady. Source: The United States National Archices and Records.

American Civil War

1861-1865

Between 1861 and 1865 our American neighbours waged a bloody civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead and forever shaped modern America. Slavery was ended due to this war.

Helen Shaw Macdonald circa 1850. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Death of Helen Macdonald

October 24, 1862

Helen Macdonald died on October 24, 1862 and was buried in the Cataraqui Cemetery.

Sir John A. Macdonald portrait by William Sawyer. Photo: Chris Miner. Source: City of Kingston.

Sir John A.'s Portrait in Kingston's City Hall

1863

Painted by well-known photographer and portrait artist William Sawyer in 1863 (four years prior to Confederation), the full length portrait potrays the yet-to-be-knighted John A.

William MacDougall by Topley Studio. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

William MacDougall Attends the Gettysburg Address

November 19, 1863

Canada was represented on the platform at Gettysburg when Abraham Lincoln delivered what is probably the most famous speech in American history, the Gettysburg Address, in November of 1863.

First page of text inside the leather-bound copy of the British North America Act, March 29, 1867. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Writes Much of the British North America Act

1864-1867

While many students of law, who later become lawyers, study and read a great deal about the constitution, John A.'s legal training proved particularly relevant in the run-up to Confederation.

Charlottetown Conference

August 25, 1864

In August 1864, the Canadian government steamer, Queen Victoria, loaded to the gunnels with champagne, sailed into Prince Edward Island, for the Charlottetown Conference, an event that became a tur

Title Page of the 72 Resolutions of the Quebec City Conference, October 10, 1864 with doodles by Sir John A. Macdonald. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. at the Quebec Conference

October 1864

It was at the Quebec Conference that Frances Monck, the governor general's niece, noted that Macdonald was always drunk and that he had been found in his hotel room, with a rug thrown over his nigh

Delegates at the Quebec Conference, 1864. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Quebec Conference

October 10, 1864

On October 10, 1864, a second conference, the Quebec Conference, was held in Quebec City. For two weeks Sir John A. rallied the separate parties with impassioned speeches.

Empire Life (former Commercial Bank), 259 King St. East, Kingston, ON. Source: City of Kingston.

John A's Finances

1864-1869

John A.'s long-term law partner A.J. Macdonell died in 1864 and it is soon discovered that the law practice is insolvent.

Parliamentary Debates on the subject of the Confederation of the British North American Provinces, 1865. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Debate on Confederation Begins

March 11, 1865

Early in 1865, Macdonald gave the opening speech for the parliamentary debate on Confederation. This speech was apparently one of the longest and least convincing he ever gave.

Heathfield Villa circa 1900. Source: Archives, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.

Heathfield

1865-1876

Built in the 1830s in what was then the countryside, the residence changed hands a number of times in the first few years, but became known as Heathfield after Charles Heath, the property’s owner f

The Fathers of Confederation at the London Conference, 1866. Source: Library and Archives Canada

The British North America Bill

December 4, 1866 - July 1, 1867

A final Confederation conference was held in London, England on December 4, 1866 at the Westminister Palace Hotel. The event lasted three days and no minutes were taken.

Collapse of the Commercial Bank

1867

Queen's University is devastated by the collapse of the Commercial Bank, of which Sir John A. is a director and legal advisor.

Robert Baldwin circa 1917. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Robert Baldwin

1867-1890

This great reforming leader from what is now Ontario played a key role in bringing responsible government to what is now Canada. Sir John A.

In Hiawatha Council Hall on occasion of federal by-election on October 31, 1960 by Nick Nickels. From left to right: Lawrence Salleby; Chief Ralph Loucks, deputy returning officer; Lucy Muskrat, poll clerk; Eldon Muskrat, poll constable. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Voting Rights for First Peoples

1867-1960

Under the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald, limited voting rights are extended to some First Peoples men.

Conservative Party Whips group circa 1880 by William Topley. L. to R.: Rufus Stephenson, Adolphe Caron, Arthur T.H. Williams, last two unidentified. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Considered the Founder of the Conservative Party of Canada

1867-present

Our national political parties have served as one of the places where like-minded Canadians can gather under one tent.

Women's dormitory, Immigration Building, St John, NB circa 1920-1930. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. and Immigration

1867-2015

There can be no defence of Sir John A.'s views on the exclusion of potential immigrants on biological, cultural or religious grounds other than, yet again, to argue that he was a man of his times.

Susan Agnes Bernard Macdonald. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Marries Susan Agnes Bernard

February 16, 1867

On February 16, 1867, John A. married Susan Agnes Bernard, a Jamaican-born English woman, 21 years his junior, at St. George's Church in London's Hanover Square.

Reading the proclamation of Confederation in Market Square on July 1, 1867. Source: Queen's University Archives.

John A. Becomes Sir John A.

July 1, 1867

On the morning of July 1, 1867, the first Dominion Day, John A. received word that he had been granted a knighthood. He was now officially Sir John A. Macdonald, and Agnes was Lady Macdonald.

A Transcontinental Nation

1867-1891

While it took the true qualities of leadership and statesmanship to bring Canada together in 1867, Sir John A. Macdonald did not stop there.

Sir John A. Macdonald circa 1883 by William James Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

International Leadership

July 1, 1867 - June 6, 1891

Macdonald shared the international stage with several other internationally recognized figures in the second half of the nineteenth century including Bismarck (Germany), Garibaldi (Italy), and Linc

Sir John A. Macdonald circa 1883 by William James Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

International Presence

July 1, 1867 - June 6, 1891

While Macdonald is feted for his local municipal presence and national role as the "Father of Canada," his presence on the international stage should also be acknowledged.

Sir John A. and the American Presidents

July 1, 1867 – June 6, 1891

Sir John A.’s time in office – and his time as leader of the opposition between 1873 and 1878 – saw him share stage in North America with seven American presidents: Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S.

Lady Agnes Macdonald circa 1873 by William Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Agnes Macdonald's Influence on Sir John A.'s Mood

July 7, 1867

Not surprisingly, Sir John A put in some long hours at the office. In her diary a week after Confederation, Agnes Macdonald gives us an insider’s view of his mood and their relationship.

John Sandfield Macdonald by William James Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John Sandfield Macdonald

July 16, 1867 – December 20, 1871

Also hailing from eastern Ontario, John Sandfield Macdonald was Ontario's first Premier. His service to his province has been overshadowed by Sir John A.

Lady S. Agnes Macdonald (née Bernard) circa 1873 by William Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Agnes Macdonald's Religion

1867-1891

Passionately devoted to an unusually puritanical Anglicanism, Agnes's religious beliefs were a major influence on the Macdonald home.

Lady S. Agnes Macdonald (née Bernard) circa 1881 by William Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Agnes' Response to John A.'s Drinking

1867-1891

Agnes Macdonald is generally given credit for adding 10-15 years to John A.'s life.

Gooderham and Worts Ltd., Toronto Canada, Canadian Rye Whiskey. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Upper Canadian Rye and Confederation

December 10, 1867

On December 10, 1867, a Customs Bill was introduced which would have serious consequences for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, not the least of which was an increased duty on spirits entering Canada.

Thomas D'Arcy McGee circa 1861 by Ellisson & Co. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

D'Arcy McGee

1868

While Sir John A. Macdonald is often, rightly, called the architect of Confederation, D'Arcy McGee is known as Confederation's poet.

Funeral Procession of the late Hon. Thomas D'Arcy McGee. Montreal, Canada. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

D'Arcy McGee Is Murdered

April 7, 1868

On April 7, 1868, John A.'s trusted colleague, drinking partner and old friend D'Arcy McGee was murdered. McGee had been at the parliamentary debates until well after midnight. At 2 a.m.

Councillors of the Provisional Government of the Métis Nation. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Louis Riel and the Provisional Government

1869-1870

After failing to be consulted on the sale of Rupert's Land where they were living, the Métis, joined by settlers and First Nations peoples, formed a provisional government in 1869.

The execution of Scott. Artist: J. W. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Red River Resistance

1869-1870

Louis Riel led two resistance movements against the government of Canada while Sir John A. was prime minister.

Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe and daughter Mary Macdonald. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Birth of Mary Theodora Macdonald

February 8, 1869

On February 8, 1869, Mary Theodora Macdonald was born to Lady Agnes and Sir John A.

Printed Declaration of the People of Rupert's Land and the North West, by Bruce, John and Louis Riel, opposing the establishment of Canadian authority. December 8, 1869. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Sale of Rupert's Land to Canada

March 20, 1869

After significant pressure from Great Britain, the Hudson's Bay Company sold Rupert's Land to Canada.

East Block, Parliament Hill. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Diagnosed with Gallstones

May 6, 1870

On May 6, 1870, Sir John A.'s assistant heard a crash and found the Prime Minister in convulsions, his pulse almost undetectable. It appeared that Sir John A. was dying.

Councillors of the 1869 Provisional Government of the Métis Nation. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Manitoba Act

May 12, 1870

With consideration of the Métis' list of conditions, in 1870 Sir John A. and the Canadian government drafted the Manitoba Act, which created the small province of Manitoba.

Map of the system of the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada. Direct route to all points in Canada and United States, the great International Route between the east and west. 1887. Matthews, Northrup & Co. Buffalo, N.Y Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Rail and Kingston

1871-1885

Negative feelings in Kingston and Macdonald's opposition to the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) can be attributed to: a timetable that was inconvenient to local business; it bypassing the city by two mil

Sir George-Étienne Cartier, after 1882. Montréal, Quebec. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

British Columbia Becomes the Sixth Canadian Province

July 20, 1871

In 1871, British Columbia became the sixth Canadian province, joining Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba.

Edward Blake by Edmund Wyly Grier. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Edward Blake

December 20, 1871 – October 25, 1872

For much of the time Sir John A. Macdonald served as Prime Minister, the brilliant Edward Blake sat across from him in the Commons as Leader of the Opposition.

Hamilton procession of Nine-Hour Movement Men. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Trades Union Act

1872

The rights of Canadian workers to organize and collectively bargain with their employers are now enshrined in Canadian constitutional law.

Alexander Mackenzie. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Alexander Mackenzie

1873 - 1878

Alexander Mackenzie, Canada's second Prime Minister and the first Liberal leader to hold the post of Prime Minister, has the unique distinction of being the only political leader to have defeated S

"Blackwash and Whitewash" Source: A caricature history of Canadian politics: events from the union of 1841, as illustrated by cartoons from “Grip” and various other sources by J. W. Bengough, With an introd. by Rev. Grant, Toronto, Grip Print. and Pub. Co., 1886. - Toronto : P. Martin Associates, 1974

The Greatest Political Comeback

1873-1878

As Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. won an incredible – by today's standards – six majority governments.

Personnel of the North-West Mounted Police, Dawson, Yukon. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Establishment of the North-West Mounted Police

May 23, 1873

On May 23, 1873, Queen Victoria, acting on the advice of Sir John A., approved the act to establish the North-West Mounted Police, later to become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, one of the most

Grip, Toronto. April 29, 1882.

John A and the Political Picnic

1873-1878

Considering that he won six majority mandates from Canadians as their first and founding Prime Minister, it won’t be a surprise to discover that Sir John A.

Russell House Hotel by William James Topley, circaa 1893. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. Resigns as Prime Minister

November 5, 1873

On November 5, 1873, plagued by scandal over accepting funds for a new railway during the 1872 election campaign, Sir John A. resigned as prime minister.

One page of the Six Nations Reserve petition protesting the Indian Act of 1876. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Indian Act (1876)

1876-present

In 1876, Sir John A. and his government created the Indian Act to encourage the assimilation of indigenous peoples living in Canada.

George Monro Grant, Principal of Queen's University. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

George Monro Grant

1877–1902

George Monro Grant, who led Queen’s for decades as Principal, was one of the most important non-political leaders of his time and knew Sir John A. Macdonald well.

Sir John A. Macdonald political cartoon by John Wilson Bengough. First published in Grip, September 28th, 1878. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The 1878 Election

1878-1889

Whatever political power base resides at Grimason House is seriously eroded with Macdonald's 1878 defeat at the hands of the Kingston voters.

Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelius Ketel. Source: Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Thanksgiving

1879 - present day

It was under the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald's government that Thanksgiving was first given official recognition in 1879. At that time a date in November was chosen for Thanksgiving.

Nicholas Flood Davin, M.P. Source: William James Topley, Library and Archives Canada.

Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half Breeds

1879

In 1879, Nicolas Flood Davin reported to the Canadian government recommendations on First Peoples education and assimilation.

Sir Charles Tupper and Hugh John MacDonald by William Notman & Son. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. and Charles Tupper Have a Falling Out

1880-1890

Despite the fact that they are intimate political allies, for close to two years Macdonald and Tupper rarely speak to each other.

First Peoples children holding letters that spell "Goodbye" at Fort Simpson Indian Residential School in the North West Territories circa 1922. Source: J.F. Moran / Library and Archives Canada.

Residential Schools

1883 - 1996

In 1883, Macdonald supported the implementation of government-funded residential schools.

Hot springs pool. Banff, Alberta circa 1900 by Samuel J. Jarvis. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Canada's National Parks

1885

It was under Sir John A. Macdonald's government that Canada's system of National Parks was started.

Gabriel Dumont (1837-1906), Military Commander of the Métis during the North West Rebellion of 1885 by Harvey J. Strong. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Gabriel Dumont Serves as Louis Riel's Chief Military Officer

1885

In 1885, Gabriel Dumont served as Louis Riel's chief military officer as Riel attempted to seek justice from the Macdonald government – or, depending on your point of view, led a rebellion.

Sir George Étienne Cartier by Notman & Son. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

George-Étienne Cartier on His Friendship with Sir John A.

1885

Following Macdonald's appointment as Prime Minister in 1867, Cartier was his constant supporter until his own death in 1873.

Group photograph of Metis and First Peoples prisoners from the North West Rebellion by O.B. Buell. (L-R): Ignace Poitras, Pierre Parenteau, Baptiste Parenteau, Pierre Gariepy, Ignace Poitras Jr., Albert Monkman, Pierre Vandal, Baptiste Vandal, Joseph Arcand, Maxime Dubois, James Short, Pierre Henry, Baptiste Tourond, Emmanuel Champagne, Kit-a-wa-how (Alex Cagen, ex-chief of the Muskeg Lake Indians). Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Indian Act (1885)

1885

By 1885, the Canadian government had tried to alter much of the Indian Act and remained unresponsive to the calls by the Métis for negotiations regarding the conditions they had made in 1869.

Councillors of the Provisional Government of the Métis Nation. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Louis Riel and the Provisional Government (1885)

1885

In 1885, following the emigration of the Métis to Saskatchewan and the ongoing encroachment of settlers, the Métis continued to petition Macdonald's government for their land rights.

The Capture of Batoche by Grundy. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Battle of Batoche

May 9, 1885 - May 12, 1885

The Battle of Batoche marked the final battle of the Northwest Resistance. Over the course of three days, 250 Métis battled more than 900 Canadian Forces troops.

Chinese camp (Canadian Pacific Railway), Kamloops, British Columbia circa 1886. Source: Library and Archives Canada. 

The Results of the Royal Commission on the use of Chinese Labourers in the Construction of the CPR

1885-1923

In 1885, the Royal Commission reported that, while the Chinese were not an inferior race, were good workers and should not be excluded, future arrivals should be regulated by a head tax of $50.

Louis Riel addressing the jury during his trial for treason in 1885 by O.B. Buell. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Trial of Louis Riel

November 16, 1885

Sir John A. ordered that the trial of Louis Riel be held in Regina, which assured a Protestant jury rather than risk a potentially diverse mixed jury in Winnipeg.

John A. and Manulife Financial

1887

In a move that would be unthinkable today under government conflict of interest and other rules governing public office holders, Sir John A., while Prime Minister, became President of what is now M

Mackenzie Building at the Royal Military College (RMC), Kingston, Ontario with Fort Frederick in the foreground. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Major-General D.R. Cameron

1888-1896

Sir Charles Tupper makes frequent trips to Kingston to campaign for Macdonald, but also to visit his daughter Emma and her husband Major-General D. R.

Canadian spelling

Canadian Spelling

1890

In 1890 Sir John A. Macdonald and his cabinet issued an Order-in-Council directing that British spellings be put in uniform use in all Government of Canada documents.

Eliza Grimason. Source: City of Kingston.

Sir John A. Lays the Cornerstone for the Kingston Dry Dock

1890

One year before his death, Sir John A. laid the cornerstone for a dry dock in Kingston. According to biographer E. B.

Kingston Dry Dock. Source: Marine Museum Kingston.

Macdonald Gives Kingston a Dry Dock

1891

In what will be his final election campaign, Sir John A. gives Kingston the gift of a new dry dock. Mixing business, scandal and politics, his team arranges for a fictious contractor, Andrew C.

Eliza Grimason. Source: City of Kingston Collection.

Eliza Grimason Buried Near Sir John A.

1891 - 1916

Sir John A. Macdonald died in June of 1891 and was buried in Cataraqui Cemetery.

More than ten thousand people filed past Macdonald's coffin as he lay in state in City Hall. Source: Queen's University Archives.

Sir John A.'s Death

June 6, 1891

Macdonald died on June 6, 1891, and, following several days of ceremonies in Ottawa, his steel-casketed body arrived in downtown Kingston on June 10, symbolically, by rail.

Hector Langevin circa 1873 by William James Topley. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Hector Langevin

June 8, 1891

After the death of Cartier in the 1870s, Hector Langevin worked his hardest to fill the shoes of his fallen friend as Sir John A.'s leading partner in French Canada.

Sir John A. Macdonald's funeral procession on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, June 1891. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Wilfrid Laurier's Eulogy to Sir John A.

June 8, 1891

In his eulogy to Sir John A., Wilfrid Laurier told the House of Commons, "it is almost impossible to convince the unwilling mind that Sir John Macdonald is no more, that the chair which we now see

Funeral of Sir John A. Macdonald, Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston, ON by James W Powell. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Sir John A.'s Funeral

June 11, 1891

On June 11, the day of the funeral, the horse-drawn hearse proceeded to Cataraqui Cemetery along streets lined with mourners from across Ontario and Quebec, and Kingston expressed its mourning by t

Sir John Abbott. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Sir John Abbott

June 16, 1891 – November 24, 1892

Sir John Abbott was a senior member of Sir John A.'s cabinets. Upon Sir John A.'s death in 1891 the Governor General chose Abbott to be the Father of Confederation's successor.

Sir John Thompson. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Sir John Thompson

December 5, 1892 – December 12, 1894

Sir John Thompson, of Nova Scotia, was to become Prime Minister after Sir John Abbott retired due to poor health.

Sir John A. Statue. Photo: Alexander Gabov. Source: City of Kingston.

Sir John A. Statue in City Park

October 23, 1895 - present day

There are numerous statues of Sir John A. Macdonald across Canada. The statue in Kingston's City Park is a full-length bronze depiction of Sir John A.

Nellie McClung by Cyril Jessop. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Voting Rights for Women

1921-1960

While it wasn't until the 1921 that some women were granted the right to vote and not until 1960 that all Canadian women had the right to vote in federal elections, Macdonald was the first national

Visit to Canada of Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister of Great Britain ((L-R): H.R.H. Prince George; H.R.H. the Duke of Kent; Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King; Rt. Hon. Stanley and Mrs. Baldwin) by John G. Dickson. Library and Archives Canada.

UK Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin Visits Sir John A.'s statue

1927

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Stanley Baldwin visited Sir John A. Macdonald's statue in 1927 in Kingston to pay homage to Canada's first and founding Prime Minister.

Sir John's Study at Earnscliffe in “The Dominion Illustrated,” 20 June 1891. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

British High Commissioners to Canada

1930 - present

Since 1930, British High Commissioners to Canada have had to learn a great deal about Sir John A. Macdonald.

Summerhill

Summerhill

1839

The Reverend George Okill Stuart, minister at St George’s, was an ambitious developer and – one suspects – an amateur architect.

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King places a wreath during an event in Kingston, Ontario, on June 7, 1941, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Sir John A. Macdonald's death. Source: Queen's University Archives.

Prime Minister Mackenzie King and Sir John A.

1941

Canada's longest-serving Prime Minister, Mackenzie King was a great student of the life and legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald. His father had taught Sir John A.'s son, Hugh John, law in Toronto.

John A Macdonald: The Young Politician by Donald Creighton. University of Toronto Press.

Donald Creighton's Biography of Sir John A.

1952-1955

Professor Donald Creighton of the University of Toronto became one of English Canada's leading historians of the 20th century.

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Sir John A.

1957-1963

Sir John A. has had no greater fan amongst his successor Prime Ministers than John Diefenbaker of Saskatchewan. Diefenbaker, Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963, often told Sir John A.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and Sir John A.

1963-1968

Considered by many to be one of Canada’s greatest Prime Ministers, Lester B. Pearson led the country from 1963 until 1968.

Ontario Premier William Davis and Sir John A. Macdonald

January 11, 1965

Ontario’s Premier from 1971 until 1985, William Davis also served as a ground-breaking Ontario Minister of Education in the 1960s under Premier John Robarts.

Premier John P. Robarts Announces the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway

January 11, 1965

John P. Robarts, who celebrated his birthday on January 11 as John A. did, is widely considered one of Ontario's most successful Premiers.

The Right Honourable Kim Campbell. Portrait by Bryan Adams. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Prime Minister Kim Campbell

June 25, 1993 – November 4, 1993

Kim Campbell made history in 1993 by becoming the first woman Prime Minister of Canada. Like Sir John A. Macdonald did for a period, she also represented British Columbia in the House of Commons.

First Nations' children holding letters that spell "Goodbye" at Fort Simpson Indian Residential School in the North West Territories circa 1922. Source: J.F. Moran / Library and Archives Canada.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

June 8, 2008

On June 8, 2008, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement organized the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Residential school in Resolution N.W.T. Source: Canada Dept of Mines and Technical Surveys, Library and Archives Canada.

2008 Apology for Residential Schools

June 11, 2008

Although the federal government apologized for their involvement in the development of residential schools in 2008, there remains little ongoing effort from the government in supporting survivors a

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Sir John A.

2008

Past Prime Ministers have honoured Macdonald’s statesmanship and vision. The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, for example, who led Canada between 1984 and 1993, penned an article in tribute to Sir John A.

Sir John A. statue in Kingston's City Park on January 11, 2013. Photo: Alexander Gabov. Source: City of Kingston.

The Sir John A. Statue: Art and Political Protest

January 11, 2013

For more than a century the monument to Sir John A. Macdonald located in Kingston City Park has been a site for public celebration as well as political protest.

The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien reads. Source: City of Kingston.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the Macdonald Bicentennial

January 11, 2015

Canada's 20th Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, shares more than holding Canada's top political job with Sir John A. Macdonald.

The Rt. Hon. John Turner and the Hon. Sophie Kiwala at Kingston's Bicentennial Commemoration in January 2015. Photo: Tim Forbes. Source: City of Kingston.

Prime Minister John Turner and the Macdonald Bicentennial

January 11, 2015

Canada's 17th Prime Minister, John Turner, was one of the Hon. Chairs of Kingston's Macdonald Bicentennial Commemorations.

The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper delivering the keynote address at the Sir John A. bicentennial in City Hall, Kingston, ON. Image: City of Kingston. Photo: Tim Forbes.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Sir John A.

January 11, 2015

Stephen Harper is Canada's 22nd Prime Minister. Representing Calgary in the House of Commons, he has held Canada's top political job since 2006.

John A.'s Toronto Statue

1894 - present day

Even today Sir John A. Macdonald’s statue stands prominently in front of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto. This statue of Sir John A.

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