Canada's First Prime Minister

Florence Cardinal

John A. Macdonald was Prime Minister of Canada nineteen years making him second only to Mackenzie King as the longest serving Prime Minister of Canada.

John A. Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland, January 10, 1815. In 1820, when he was five years old, he emigrated to Canada with his parents.
A bright young man, he articled with a lawyer when he was 15, and had his own legal practice when he was 19 years of age. He developed an interest in politics, and as the first step toward that career, he became a city alderman in 1843. In 1844 he was elected Conservative representative in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada.
He was very interested in uniting the provinces and played a leading role in Confederation. In 1867, he saw his dream come true when the British North America Act united the then existing four provinces of Canada. John A. Macdonald became known as the Father of Confederation.
He was elected the first Prime Minister of Canada in 1867 and was knighted by Queen Victoria for his work with Confederation. Now he was Sir John A. Macdonald.
He accomplished many things while in power including:
  • The building of the Transcontinental Railroad
  • The purchase of Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories form the Hudson's Bay
  • The creation of the Province of Manitoba
  • The addition by Britain of British Columbia to the Confederation
Unfortunately, trouble brewed in the country. Hits of bribed during the building of the railroad led to the Pacific Scandal. John A. Macdonald was forced to resign in 1873.
He tried for reelection in 1874 but was defeated. However, in 1878 he regained power. Unfortunately, his actions during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 and the hanging of Louis Riel caused a rift between the French, who championed Riel, and the English who saw Riel as a rebel and a traitor and again he lost power.
He was reelected in 1891 for a final term. Weakened by a life riddled with stress and alcoholism, he died three months later while still in power. His 19 years in power placed him second only to Mackenzie King as the longest serving Prime Minister.