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Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald


Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada

Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada

Notman Studio / Library and Archives Canada / C-010144

About Sir John A. Macdonald:

Sir John A. Macdonald was a Father of Confederation and drafted two-thirds of the provisions of the British North America Act. Sir John A. Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada.

Prime Minister of Canada:

1867-73, 1878-91

Highlights as Prime Minister:

  • building a trans-continental railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway

  • building a nation with the entry into Confederation of Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories (including Alberta and Saskatchewan), Manitoba, and British Columbia

  • opening the West for settlement

  • creation of the North-West Mounted Police

  • the Northwest Rebellion and the hanging of Louis Riel

  • the National Policy of tariffs against imports to protect Canadian industry


January 10, 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland. Came to Canada in 1820.


June 6, 1891 in Ottawa, Ontario


  • Commercial lawyer
  • Businessman

Political Affiliation:

  • Liberal-Conservative
  • Conservative

Ridings (Electoral Districts):

  • Kingston (Legislative Assembly of Province of Canada) 1844-67
  • Kingston 1867-78, 1887-91
  • Victoria 1878-82
  • Carleton 1882-87

Political Career of Sir John A. Macdonald:

  • John A. Macdonald was elected as a municipal alderman in Kingston, Ontario in 1843.

  • He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1844 to 1867.

  • John A. Macdonald was appointed Receiver General in 1847.

  • He sat as an Opposition member of parliament from 1847 to 1854.

  • John A. Macdonald helped create the Conservative Party in 1854.

  • He was Attorney General of Canada West from 1854 to 1858, 1858 to 1862 and from 1864 to 1867.

  • John A. Macdonald served as Joint Premier of the Province of Canada, with Étienne-Paschal Taché from 1856 to 1857 and with George-Étienne Cartier from 1857 to 1858 and from 1858 to 1962.

  • He again sat as an Opposition member of parliament in 1858 and from 1862 to 1864.

  • A leading delegate at all three conferences on Canadian Confederation, and responsible for drafting much of the BNA Act, Macdonald received a knighthood for his work, and was asked to be the first Prime Minister of Canada in 1867.

  • In 1873 the Conservative government was forced to resign over the Pacific Railway Scandal. The Liberals under Alexander Mackenzie took over.

  • Sir John A. Macdonald became Prime Minister again in 1878 when the Conservatives were returned to power.

  • During Macdonald's second administration the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was finished.

  • Sir John A. Macdonald won three more elections in 1882, 1887 and 1891.

  • He died just three months after the 1891 election.

  • Sir John Abbott took over as Prime Minister.

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