On January 11th 2015, Canada celebrates the 200th birthday of its first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald.
Sir John A. was a Father of Confederation, and had been Premier of the Province of Canada prior to Confederation.
Sir John A. was born John Alexander Macdonald on January 11th 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland. His parents were Hugh Macdonald and Helen Shaw, who moved to Kingston, in what is now Ontario, in 1820 when John A. was only five years old.
His early career was that of a Barrister, articling for approximately three years before being called to the Bar in February 1836. He would become a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 1846. He would serve as a private in the Militia during the Rebellions of 1837, serving around Kingston, but saw no action.
Sir John A. was first elected to the Assembly for the Province of Canada in 1844, which was the start of his long political career. He would become Premier in 1857.
Sir John A. became a Father of Confederation, when along with a group of 33 others, he helped to create the new Dominion of Canada, with conferences starting in Charlottetown (1864) and Quebec City (1866), prior to the London Conference in late 1866. Confederation would take effect on July 1st, 1867 and would amalgamate three British colonies – the Province of Canada (split into two provinces: Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick – into the newly created Dominion of Canada.
Sir John A. would be asked to form the first Government, commencing July 1st, 1867. The first election, which took place in August 1867, was an easy victory for Sir John A. and the Conservative Party.
Sir John A. would serve two periods as Prime Minister, from 1867-1873 and from 1878 until his death in 1891. During his Premiership, he would see to the building of a national railway (the Canadian Pacific Railway, or CPR), the purchase of the Northwest Territory, and the creation of three new provinces into Confederation: Manitoba, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. He would resign in 1873 over the building of the CPR, but would come back to power in 1878.
Sir John A. also oversaw the Government’s put down of the Red River Rebellion in 1870 and the North-West Rebellion of of 1885.
Sir John A. was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1867. He would be lead his party to six election victories, and is the second longest serving Prime Minister in Canada’s history, only behind William Lyon Mackenzie King, serving just under 19 years in office.
So, let’s celebrate the 200th birthday of Canada’s first, and greatest (in my opinion), Prime Minister: Sir John A. Macdonald.
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