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 45 stories about “Community Building

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway


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.

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.

Eliza Grimason. Source: Newland family private collection, reprinted in Lena Newman, The John A. Macdonald Album, Tundra Books, 1974.

Eliza Grimason


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


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 John A. and Queen's University

December 18 1839 - October 16, 1841

On Dec. 18, 1839, the day after the bill was introduced to the Legislature for the establishment of a Presbyterian college to train ministers, a meeting was held in St.

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.

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


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.

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.

City Hall Skating Rink. Source: Queen's University Archives.

Early Skating in Kingston

1850 - present day

Located on the lake side of City Hall, near the Market Battery, the City Hall Skating Rink provided winter outdoor activity for the community long before there was a Parks and Recreation department

Sir Alexander Campbell. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Alexander Campbell's Political Career


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


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.

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.

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


Macdonald may be “Kingston's favourite son,” but he also claims many happy youthful moments elsewhere.

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.

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.

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.

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

Sir George-Étienne Cartier, after 1882. Montréal, Quebec. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

British Columbia Becomes the Sixth Canadian Province

July 20, 1871

In 1871, British Columbia became the sixth Canadian province, joining Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba.

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

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


Whatever political power base resides at Grimason House is seriously eroded with Macdonald's 1878 defeat at the hands of the Kingston voters.

Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelius Ketel. Source: Bodleian Library, Oxford.


1879 - present day

It was under the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald's government that Thanksgiving was first given official recognition in 1879. At that time a date in November was chosen for Thanksgiving.

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.

Chinese camp (Canadian Pacific Railway), Kamloops, British Columbia circa 1886. Source: Library and Archives Canada. 

The Results of the Royal Commission on the use of Chinese Labourers in the Construction of the CPR


In 1885, the Royal Commission reported that, while the Chinese were not an inferior race, were good workers and should not be excluded, future arrivals should be regulated by a head tax of $50.

Eliza Grimason. Source: City of Kingston.

Sir John A. Lays the Cornerstone for the Kingston Dry Dock


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


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.

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.