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Biography of the Day

GOWER, Sir ERASMUS – Volume V (1801-1820)

b. 3 Dec. 1742 near Cilgerran, Wales


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

Macdonald in History

After Sir John A. MACDONALD’s death in 1891, the Conservatives praised him as a nation builder. In the eulogy he delivered in the House of Commons, Liberal leader Wilfrid LAURIER spoke highly of Macdonald’s far-reaching vision for Canada while criticizing his partisan approach to politics. Recently, historians have drawn attention to his arguments in favour of women’s suffrage and his initiative to enfranchise aboriginals without altering their treaty rights. But they have also censured his anti-Chinese attitudes and his policies regarding the Plains peoples during the 1880s. The summary of his biographers, J. K. Johnson and P. B. Waite, is more positive:

“The truth was, notwithstanding all the vicissitudes Macdonald had endured, he enjoyed his métier. He remembered faces and places, associations and names, and he kept them alive in mind and practice with an enormous and often personal correspondence. He listened to everyone, and led all to think that he set great store by their information. His own letters are a marvellous treasure: trenchant, whimsical, full of pith and substance, salt and savour – the way he was. ‘He was the father and founder of his country,’ said Sir John Thompson in 1891 in a rare interview, ‘there is not one of us who ... had not lost his heart to him.’ Even Liberals were not without grudging admiration; Conservatives, in parliament, in the country, loved the Old Man and at his death they mourned for him as if he had been taken from their very firesides.” 



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