John A. MacDonald

The face of Canada in the mid-1800s

Background Information

John was born in Glasgow, Scotland on January 11, 1815. He died in Ottawa, Ontario on June 6, 1891. In those 76 years, he had a huge impact on Canadian history.

John's Early Years

John A. Macdonald was a Scottish immigrant who moved to Canada at the age of five. He was the third of five children. When he was 10, his family had barely enough funds to send him to a literacy school, which he left at 15. He later regretted this, however, later saying to his private secretary that he could have embarked on a literary career had he stayed.

The Long Struggle

Macdonald and George Brown always fought. Brown was interested in rep by pop, while Macdonald wanted a federation that the other colonies could join. They did, however, resolve their differences by joining the Great Coalition. Only the "Parti Rouge" remained separate from the Coalition. Then the Colonial Office called a meeting in Charlottetown, PEI for September 1, 1864 to try and get the Maritimes to consider a union. This later became known widely as the Charlottetown Conference. The Canadians were given permission to send a delegation to it. This delegation was lead by Macdonald, Brown, and George-Etienne Cartier. After this conference, the Maritimes replied that they would be willing to join Confederation if the details could be arranged. A moth later, in October 1864, delegates met in Quebec City for what we now call the Quebec Conference. This is where the 72 resolutions were agreed upon, as they would later be the foundation of Canada's government. In 1865, Canada's legislative assembly approved Confederation by a 91:33 vote ratio. In December 1866, the London Conference had to be held, to finalize Confederation. On March 8, 1867, the House of Commons passed the British North America Act, which would later serve as the majority of Canada's constitution. On March 29, Queen Victoria gave it Royal Assent, which meant that she gave it permission to be passed as laws. Canada finally confederated on July 1, 1867, which today is Canada Day! This was also the day that Macdonald became Canada's first prime minister. This year, 2015, Canada Day will be Canada's 148th birthday.


Monday, July 1st 1867 at 9:15am


Canada became a country at last after much debate and deliberation.