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 10 stories about “Immigrant
Hugh John Macdonald by William Sawyer 1852. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

The Birth of John Alexander Macdonald

January 10-11, 1815

John Alexander Macdonald, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on either January 10 or January 11, 1815.

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


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

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


When the Macdonald family arrived in Upper Canada in the 1820s, Kingston was rough and rude with a reputation drunkenness and prostitution.

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.

Sir John A and "The County"

October 8, 1834

While often referred to as Macdonald of Kingston, he and his family originally had close associations with Prince Edward County and the Bay of Quinte region to the west of Kingston from 1824-1835.

Henry Smith Jr. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Henry Smith Jr.


Henry Smith Jr. is an immigrant from England and three years older than John A. Macdonald.

Women's dormitory, Immigration Building, St John, NB circa 1920-1930. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

John A. and Immigration


There can be no defence of Sir John A.'s views on the exclusion of potential immigrants on biological, cultural or religious grounds other than, yet again, to argue that he was a man of his times.

Thomas D'Arcy McGee circa 1861 by Ellisson & Co. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

D'Arcy McGee


While Sir John A. Macdonald is often, rightly, called the architect of Confederation, D'Arcy McGee is known as Confederation's poet.

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.