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 “Business
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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