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Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald

The First Prime Minister of Canada


Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's First Prime Minister

Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's First Prime Minister

W.J. Moore / Library and Archives Canada / C-021594

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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