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 57 stories about “Kingston
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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.