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 38 stories about “Women
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.