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. 

You're viewing 20 stories about “Intoxicants
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

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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