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 87 stories about “Leadership
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.

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.

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

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


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)


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

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

Patriarch of Canada


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

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.

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

John A. Manages a Legal Office in Napanee


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

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.

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


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

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

Kingston Becomes the Capital of the United Provinces of Canada


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


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

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

The Trust and Loan Company


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


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


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.

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.

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


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.

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

George Brown's 1849 Report on Kingston Penitentiary


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.

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


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

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

The Double Shuffle


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

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.

Sir Henry Smith. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Henry Smith Jr.


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

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

John A. and Charles Tupper


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:

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.

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


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

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

The 1861 Election Celebration


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


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

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


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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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

Robert Baldwin


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


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


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

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


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

Agnes Macdonald's Religion


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

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

Louis Riel and the Provisional Government


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


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

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.

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


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

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


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

"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


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


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.

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

George Monro Grant


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

John A. and Charles Tupper Have a Falling Out


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

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

Canada's National Parks


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


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.


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)


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)


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.

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.

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


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.

Kingston Dry Dock. Source: Marine Museum Kingston.

Macdonald Gives Kingston a Dry Dock


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.

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

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


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.

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.


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.

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Sir John A.


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.


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.

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Sir John A.


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.

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.