Monday, January 21, 2013

Sir John A. Macdonald

The Right Honorable
Sir John A. Macdonald

First Prime Minister of Canada
In Office:  17 October 1878 – 6 June 1891
Queen Victoria
Governor General
Earl of Dufferin
Marquess of Lorne
Marquess of Lansdowne
Lord Stanley of Preston
Preceded by
Alexander Mackenzie
Succeeded by
John Abbott
                    In Office - 1 July 1867 – 5 November 1873
Queen Victoria
Governor General
Viscount Monck
Baron Lisgar
Earl of Dufferin
Preceded by
Position Established
Succeeded by
Alexander Mackenzie
                  Personal Details
John Alexander Macdonald
11 January 1815
Glasgow, Scotland
6 June 1891 (aged 76)
Ottawa, Ontario
Political party
Liberal-Conservative (evolved into Conservative Party)
Isabella Clark (1843–1857, died)
Agnes Bernard (1867–1891, survived as widow)
John Alexander (died in infancy) and Hugh John by Isabella;
Mary by Agnes.
Alma mater
none (articled with a lawyer in Kingston)
Presbyterian and later Anglican 
Sir John A., The Old Chieftain, Old Tomorrow

John A. Macdonald began his political career when he was elected as a municipal alderman in Kingston, Ontario in 1843.  In 1844 he was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada serving until to 1867. He was appointed Receiver General in 1847 and 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. 

Along with with Étienne-Paschal Taché, he served as Joint Premier of the Province of Canada,  from 1856 to 1857. He then served as Joint Premier 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.  Macdonald was a leading delegate at the three Canadian Confederation conferences.  He was responsible for drafting much of the BNA Act.  He 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 and his opponent, Alexander Mackenzie, led the Liberal take took over of the government. Sir John A. Macdonald became Prime Minister again in 1878 his administration completed the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  

In 1887 Sir John A. Macdonald won a second election as Prime Minister.  He was also was elected the first President of the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Manulife), on the occasion of the first meeting of the Board of Directors following the Company's incorporation on June 23rd, 1887. Macdonald held the positions of President of Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and Prime Minister of Canada simultaneously.  Macdonald’s role at Manulife was more like that of a present day Chairman of the Board, serving as a figurehead for the company, with his reputation and prominence lending a certain amount of respect to the Company's name. The name “Manufacturers” has its origins in the political platform of John A. Macdonald. His “National Policy” plan included the need for an expanded manufacturing base to broaden the market as the nation shifted from an agrarian-based economy to a more mixed economy. In 1891 John A. Macdonald was elected again as Prime Minister but died three month’s after the election   At the time of his death, he was still President of  the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company which wrote $2 million of new business, reached $7.4 million of Business in Force and its assets totaled $438,000 in its first four years of operation.  By the time of Sir John's death in 1891, Canada had secured most of the territory it occupies today. Today Manulife is one of the most dynamic and progressive financial organizations in the world and the parent company of John Hancock Insurance in the United States.  

He died on Saturday, 6 June 1891. He was placed in an  open casket in the Senate Chamber and thousands filed by to pay their respects. His body was transported by funeral train to his hometown of Kingston, with crowds greeting the train at each stop. On arrival in Kingston, Macdonald lay in state again in City Hall, wearing the uniform of an Imperial Privy Counselor. He was buried in Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston, his grave near that of his first wife, Isabella.

Anecdotal life of Sir John Macdonald

 By Emerson Bristol Biggar

Politically, no man in Canada is better known than Sir John Macdonald; personally, few Canadians, comparatively speaking, know much about him except by the fragmentary anecdotes that have recently drifted through the newspapers. Of his politics we have had much in the newspapers and in books and magazines, but of the man himself but little has been preserved to us.

Having, in common with many other Canadians, been curious to learn something of Sir John's own history and personality, I began about three years ago to collect anecdotes and observations on him from such of his friends as I might meet at odd moments after business hours. I had intended publishing these  purely as a book of anecdotes, illustrating the man and his peculiarities, and to issue it while he yet lived. His death having intervened, I thought it well—as there was nothing, before the public in the way of a personal biography of him, and many errors were being perpetuated in the existing literature of the subject—to extend the scope of this work by giving a sketch of his life with a brief account of the chief epochs of his public career.

I have still kept as closely to the original design of the work as the limited space would allow, for I think the anecdotal style eminently suited to  biography. In studying the great characters of history we can learn more of their natures by a single anecdote than by pages of subtle analysis or airy speculation. The chief charms of Plutarch's Lives and of the biographical writings of Xenophon and Herodotus consist, to my mind, in the little incidents and anecdotes with which they are interspersed  and which throw so many distinct beams of light upon the motives and impulses of the characters under review.

In this first attempt I have endeavored more to sketch the lighter phases of his public life, along with his personal peculiarities, than to give that complete view of his life-work for which the time is not yet ripe. Therefore if some phases of his remarkable career are looked for in this book and not found, the omissions must not be misunderstood. Such may be supplied at a future time.

To the many newspaper editors who have kindly referred to the book, and the many strangers from different parts of Canada who have taken the trouble to give me hints and reminiscences, I express my gratitude. Many of these reminiscences I have not yet been able to use, but hope to on another occasion, and trust  meanwhile to hear farther from those who have kindly interested themselves.

As I have shown errors to exist in the current biography relating to Sir John, I expect errors may be found in mine, but I have been as careful as 1 could be to verify every floating story before making use of it. Such errors and faults as exist may be excused when it is known that although many notes and  anecdotes were jotted down long ago, they have all been put together and written out within five weeks.

The engraving of Sir John's mother, which now first sees the light, is from an early photograph, and has been reproduced specially for this work by Messrs. Sheldon and Davis.

Chapter I

Sir John Macdonald was born in Scotland, his father, Hugh Macdonald, being a native of Sutherlandshire in the Highlands. He belonged, of course, to the Clan Macdonald, and his forefathers for generations past were people who, living on a poor soil and in a rugged and mountainous country, made war and hunting—not agriculture or commerce—the business of their lives. From these hardy clans* came regiments and recruits that made the army of Britain feared throughout the world, and such soldiers as George Washington gave testimony to the exceptional valor of these Highlanders when he instructed his officers to face an onset of the Scottish regiments with special care. But in spite of the decimating effects of war, there were frequent periods when the population of this rugged region became congested, and to avoid starvation at home had to "swarm " into the Lowlands or across the ocean to the colonies. The stories of fertile lands and wide domains, brought home by the soldiers returning from distant countries, moved such of the Highlanders as had agricultural or commercial instincts to seek relief in new lands from the pressure of poverty ever present at home. As time went on, the gradual breaking up of the old customs of the Highland clans, combined with the attractions of the lands they had seen, forced even the soldiers to quit their accustomed life, and carry on a nobler warfare with the forces of nature in some new land. 

And so it was that years before the American Revolution (1733-40), the spectacle was seen of a whole Scottish regiment leaving their Northern home to settle on the sunny coasts of Georgia; and when, after the Revolution, the spirit of loyalty stemmed the tide of Scottish migration from flowing to the United States, the eyes of the Highlanders were turned to the northern part of the continent, and immigrants began to pour into Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and westward into the lake and river region then known as Canada. This movement continued till after the time of the emigration of Sir John Macdonald's father; and though at times it grew to such proportions as to cause much concern at home, yet the early and fruitful marriages of the Highlanders and the division of the land into small holdings, as pastoral and agricultural pursuits followed the national change of life, soon filled up the voids left by the swarming, till in recent years such migrations ceased to excite alarm. The Highland migrations find a parallel in the  movement of French Canadians from Quebec to the New England and other American States.

A duke of Sutherland, in his efforts to further win or force the clansmen to break off from their more savage mode of life, and become farmers or shepherds, evicted them from their dwellings, giving them the option of taking up at a nominal rental tenancies in districts more suited to farming or sheepraising. Sir John Macdonald's father, along with the father of John Munro, of Kincardine, Cnt., was among those evicted tenants. Hugh Macdonald and the elder Munro* lived  at Lairg, which was then merely a hamlet, consisting of an inn, a smithy, a mill of a primitive description for grinding meal, the parish school, and a little church which stood on a hill a short distance west of the hamlet. Mr. Munro was first evicted, and moved to Culrain in Ross-shire, and his near  neighbor, Hugh Micdonald, suffered next, for these "Sutherland clearances," as they were called, were naturally looked upon as cruel oppression. 

Mr. Macdonald, it appears, went to the parish of Dornoch, whither the minister of Lairg, the Rev. J. Kennedy—who is said to have baptized the child who was destined to become the Prime Minister of Canada—had also gone. Not finding a ship at Bonar Bridge, whence he expected to sail, Mr. Macdonald drifted with many others' down to Glasgow, and engaged in business as a cotton broker, dealing in cotton purchased from the Southern States. Inexperience in this line soon brought about a failure, but the creditors were so well satisfied of his honesty (and it must be remembered that business failure at that period was a far more serious business for the debtor than it is now) that they presented him with a libraiy of books, nearly all of which are in Sir John's family to this day. Hearing that he was about to try his fortune in Canada, whither many of the people of Sutherlandshire, including some of his old friends and neighbors, had preceded him, the creditors also gave him letters of commendation to certain merchants at Montreal.

It was while they lived in one of a row of stone tenement houses near the ferry landing, just across from Glasgow, on the Clyde, that John Alexander  Macdonald was born. His father was then thirty-three years and his mother thirty-seven.

1859, in Quebec city. He was then Attorney-General of Canada. We had an interesting conversation regarding our native land and birthplace. I next met him some years later in Prince Edward Island, where" he spent a summer away from public business for the benefit of his health. He at once recognized me, our meeting being under rather peculiar circumstances. I experienced the utmost kindness and attention from himself and his excellent wife, Lady Macdonald.

"Whoever penned the paragraph you refer to must be very ignorant of the masonic tie existing between Sir John and myself. The first I knew of his being a member of the ancient order was on his return from a tour to Europe, when he was invested with authority to represent the Grand Lodge of England in Canada ; the Dalhousie Lodge of Ottawa (of which I was, and still have the honor of being, a life member) was at that time under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England. Soon Sir John was elected honorary or life member of Dalhousie Lodge.
On my visit to my native place in 1856, not a vestige of the residences of our forefathers was to be seen, Lairg being now a populous village or town."


Our native land, our native vale
 A long, a last adieu! 
Farewell to bonny Cheviot dale 
And Cheviot's mountains blue !"—Pringle.


Of his infancy there is little that can be gathered at the present moment worthy of note. He had a brother William born some years before, and about a year or more before John Alexander came into the world, a little sister, Margaret, was born. The last named was destined to become the wife of Prof. Williamson, of Queen's University, Kingston. Later, another brother and sister were born; but this brother, a beautiful little child, died also, at the a|e of six, shortly after the emigration to Canada, and little Johnny was left to be his mother's only boy. He was noted for having a bright eye, a lively manner, and a head of curly brown hair, which darkened into black as he grew up. His political, or at least his speech making, career began in Glasgow, at the early age of four. One day when  some relatives with their children were visiting the house, the little ones were locked up in a room to make a day of it. Among the performances of the day was a maiden speech by Johnny, which certainly made a sensation, but in an unexpected way. The child mounted a table, and began to make a speech. What he lacked in language he made up in vehemence of gesticulation ; but in the midst of the peroration he was performing with his arms and legs, a noise was heard outside, and in the alarm he whirled himself off the table, and struck his forehead upon a chair. The incident " brought down the house" in considerable alarm, and Johnny was found to have received a severe cut, a slight scar from which he bore to his dying day. One of the witnesses to this performance was a little cousin, who being only ten years his senior was soon to be intimately associated with him, and was to carry him in her arms about the deck of the vessel that brought him to Canada.*

Moved by reports of the success of friends and fellow countrymen in Canada, and disappointed in his career at home, the lad's father decided at length in 1820 to emigrate to the great Western continent, where he would have opportunities of becoming a successful merchant or a land-owner on a scale he could never dream of at home, and still live under the British flag. So at length, about the first week in April, 1820, Hugh Macdonald with his wife and family, including his old mother, then seventy-five years of age, and some of his wife's relatives, gathered their '' belongings" together and boarded the ship the "Earl of Buckinghamshire." 

We had almost said the good ship—she had been good when she sailed to the East Indies, but now she was utterly unseaworthy; and the following year, while bringing out to Canada a cargo of 600 immigrants, she went down with all on board, and was never heard of more. The present voyage she was to complete safely—though not without accident; and never did this old East India man bring to the marts of England in all her sailings freight like that she took up the Gulf of St. Lawrence on this voyage, for among her passengers was a child who was to be in one sense the builder of a nation,—a people whose full stature no man yet may outline. These poor but strong minded and strong-limbed immigrants probably little conceived then how deeply they were to impress their national characteristics upon the young Canadian nation. The better class of Highland Scotchmen having set the example of emigration in time past, it was followed in these years by the poorest who could get away, and various means were adopted to help each other off. One plan was to start a subscription paper in a district, and collect money enough to send out a quota of friends, who might afterwards from their new home assist those left behind. 

Instead of going to the populous lowland parts,—where at times, owing to the state of public opinion, there were difficulties thrown in their way,—they would engage a vessel which would be quietly brought into the solitary bays or arms of the sea that here presented their waters almost everywhere close to the doors of the cottages, and, having taken the passengers aboard, sail quietly away. Having arrived on the other side of the ocean, as quietly and unobserved did they land their invaluable freight, "spreading broadcast the seed of a noble race over immense and fruitful lands."

In some cases men contributed part of their wages or income, till a fund was gathered to send a party out, and when enough was thus raised, they would "draw cuts" or cast lots as to which of the number should go. Of such were many of the 300 on board the "Earl of Buckinghamshire." And so, while Thomas Pringle and his party were making an equally memorable voyage to found their Scotch settlements in the Cape Colony, these hardy Highlanders were sailing to Canada, some of them to leave an enduring name upon the pages of her history. Indeed, the pure-minded poet of South Africa had already friends in Canada, and more were perhaps on this very ship, for it is to these he refers in his elegy written afterwards on a tombstone at Dryburgh Abbey: 

Over many lands his venturous race 
Are scattered widely; some are in the grave; 
Some still survive in Britain; Ocean's wave 
Hath wafted many to far Western woods 
Laved by Ohio's and Ontario's floods. 
Another band beneath the Southern skies 
Have built their homes where Kafir mountains rise, 
And taught wild Mancazana's willowy vale 
The simple strains of Scottish Cheviot dale. 

About the middle of May, the "Earl of Buckinghamshire" was sailing up the Gulf of St. Lawrence, when a boat was sighted, the master of which proved to be a French Canadian, who came on board and announced himself as a pilot. The ship was given into his hands; but at night, while the passengers, after a pleasant day of viewing the grand mountains of the North shore, were dancing away the time on deck, the pilot ran the vessel aground on a sandbank. The passengers were in terror, but little Johnny Macdonald slept peacefully in the cabin below. Here the old ship lay, pounded by the waves for hours, several vessels passing the while and taking no notice of the signals, till at last a brig from Dublin came along and helped her off the sandbank. At length, without further accident, on the 20th of May they landed at Quebec.


And surgy plains of wheat, and ancient woods,
Acres of moss and long dark strips of firs,
And sweet cots, droptin green, where children played.
 Alexander Smith,


The immigrants made their way from Quebec to Montreal and from Montreal to Kingston. In those days no grand steamers and no fast trains could carry them west, but they had to make their slow and toilsome way by means of battcaux, or Durham boats, which in some places in the river could be sailed or rowed, and in other places pulled through the swifter currents by oxen, while at some points tedious portages had to be made by land to get over the rapids. It took them three weeks to reach Kingston from Montreal.

Arrived in Kingston, Hugh Macdonald and his family determined to settle there, and ventured to open a store in the building now occupied by the Dominion Express Co. This building, which is shown in the engraving, served both as a store and dwelling, and must have been a large establishment for those days. It was somewhat altered in after years, and the sprawling sign was a conception of the later advertising days. For a time, while in Kingston, the family of McArthurs (still living near Kingston), who had come out with them from Scotland, dwelt with them in the same house. The store was a "general store," that is, it contained a little of all kinds of goods, and the stock was purchased in Montreal, from the merchants to whom he had been recommended. Five years passed away here, and the boy Johnny began to receive the first elements of his education. He went to school for a while to a Scotchman name! 

Hugh Macdonald Kingston store  

Pringle, who used to say that "Johnny Macdonald had a heid on him like a mon!" One of his schoolmates here was Mrs. Thomas Wilson, still living in Kingston, who claims that he was her first love. She was, however, some years his senior. The chief epochs in the family history of these About 1825, Hugh Macdonald gave up his business in Kingston and moved up the Bay of Quinte, to a point about 25 or 30 miles west of Kingston. The scenery of  the Bay of Quinte is charming to the eye of a stranger. The long stretch of water which cuts off Prince Edward county from the mainland, and makes it almost an island, is free from the wild storms which beat upon the outer shores of the county; and the stranger sailing up these pleasant waters sees peace and  loveliness on every hand. An ever-varying panorama is presented to the eye : here a quiet bay, there a rocky bluff, again a reedy bayou, beyond a shelving shore, and an on an opening where a reach of water, long and winding, finds its way for miles and miles, making peninsula after peninsula of always varying size and aspect. At the present day these sylvan scenes are dotted with farm houses ; and in summer the yellow grain fields, richly laden apple orchards, fields of clover or of buckwheat, whose creamy bloom exhales an odor more delightful than "all the perfumes of Arabia," checker the landscape over, but at that time the shores, the distant hills, the rolling uplands and breezy heights were alike clad with dense groves of maple, oak, hickory, ash and other kinds of Canadian forest trees.

At the root, as it were, of one of these many tongues of land formed by the arms of the Bay of Quinte, was one of the settlements of United Empire Loyalists—those people who, in the American Revolution, " sacrificed their lives,their fortunes, and their sacred honor"  to maintain as a united empire Great Britain and her colonies. These settlers had been attracted by the beauty of the scenery and the rich soil, and, at the time we speak of, had in this particular neighborhood two small settlements, one around the village of Adolphnstown, and the other along Hay Bay on the other side of this tongue of land. 

It was at Hay Bay that the Macdonald family fixed their abode. It stood by the side of the high road, about eighty feet from the water. The shore curved in gracefully from a far point of land down towards the house, and the clear waters, whether ruffled by the transient breeze, or in the calm of evening reflecting the distant hills across the bay, must have been a delight and an inspiration to the lad whose fortunes we are following.

The writer visited the spot in the summer of 1890. The waters of the bay, whether from the sinking of the ground or the rising of the water level, had encroached to within forty feet of the old homestead, while down on the farther side of this little bay, two dwellings that formed part of the homestead of Judge Fisher, their nearest neighbor, were now entirely submerged. A pleasant breeze was sending up to the shore little wavelets that chuckled gleefully under the logs and limbs of fallen trees that lay along the water's edge. From one of these logs a solitary mud-turtle dropped off at our approach, and pushed his way through the reeds. Lady Macdonald, looking on the same scene a few years before, and noticing the same turtle, or its companion, sitting on the same log, made this quaint exclamation :— "There! There is the very old turtle my husband used to shy stones at when he was a boy."

Sir John A. Macdonald - Macdonald Homestead 

But where is the old homestead? It is gone.  Its dwellings down, its tenants passed away. A crop of peas was ripening in the field which had enclosed the house. No trace of it was to be seen, till, going to an uneven spot of ground, the remains of the old foundation were to be made out, quite overgrown with pea-vines, weeds and grass. Here were the remains of the old cellar kitchen, that opened out towards the bay, and which was still but partially filled up with deposits of leaves and the washings of years of rains. A red willow had grown up in the middle of the cellar.

It was a clapboarded wooden house, painted red, with a wooden shingled roof, the west half of the place being used as a store and the east as a dwelling. The dimensions of the whole were 30 x 36 ft. Though the house was long since burned to the ground, a very accurate re-construction of it in print, reproduced here, was made by Mr. Canniff Haight for his book, "Country Life in Canada Fifty Years Ago," Mr. Haight having often seen it before it had fallen. It was not built for the Macdonalds, but had been occupied by a man named Dettler.

A bumble-bee droned over the catnip that grew along the tumbled stones of the foundation, and its dreamy noise and the clucking of the waters lulled the mind into a reflective mood, and set one to dreaming over the wonderful career and the complex changes that were wrought out in the life of the boy who played about this ruined wall and paddled in this limpid water hard by. These reflections were disturbed by a "caw caw" from one of the poplar trees that still skirted the shore, and looking up we beheld a crow gazing down in serious reflection on the scene. Ah! Grip ! You here now, and were you here then? You, whose life must have spanned over the century, did you croak or prophesy at the home-coming of the school-boy who was to sway the destinies of Canada? And is this shattered tenement a type of the end of all human glory? This much, old Grip, is certain: Within a year the genius that took thy name was never more to excite the mirth of thousands with new variations of those playful sketches of the living face that looked up into his mother's, sitting before this kitchen door!


And dear the school-boy spot
We ne'er forget, though there we are forgot.  —Byron.


The years at Adolphustown were chiefly spent at school, Johnny for a portion of the time being sent back to Kingston. The wiry lad, with his sisters, Margaret and Louise, walked night and morning from Hay Bay to the school at Adolphustown, a distance of three miles The school house was a little wooden structure, built by the original settlers, the U. E. Loyalists. Though the only one in the township, it was but sixteen feet long or thereabouts, with two windows on each side, filled with seven by eight inch window panes. The old school is now used as a granary, and near to it there still stands the oak tree—now grown to a patriarchal size— upon whose limb the boy used to swing with his sisters and their companions.

The Old U. E. Loyalist Church Attended by The Macdonald Family

There was but one board desk in the school house, and that ran round three sides of the room. The teacher's desk was at the vacant end, and a pail of water in the corner was about the only other piece of furniture in this temple of learning which was presided over by a crabbed old Scotchman known as Old Hughes.  Hughes had an adroit method of taking a boy by the collar and giving him a lift off his feet and a whack at the same time. The skill and celerity with which he did this was very interesting to all the boys, except the subject of the operation, and Johnny must often have enjoyed the exhibition, though he had no love for the chief performer, upon whom he played more than one sly trick, His school mates of this early day describe Johnny Macdonald as thin and spindly and pale, and his long and lumpy nose gav? him such a peculiar appearance, that some of the girls called him " ugly John Macdonald." One of them says he did not show any marked cleverness till later on, when he had got into the study of mathematics. He was not fond of athletics, or of hunting, or sport, although he was very nimble and was a fleet runner. He delighted, like most boys in the country, to run barefoot in summer, and often referred in after years, in his speeches, to this boyish pleasure. He was' a good dancer, however, and was rather fond of the diversion. He also learned to skate in these days, and a school-mate, Mr. John J. Watson (of whom Sir John never in after years spoke without giving him the school boy title of" John Joe "), relates that one day, 

while a group of the boys were skating, he tripped up Johnny, who was a poor skater."What did you do that for?" demanded- Johnny, as he scrambled to his feet. "Because I couldn't help it, when I saw such drumsticks as yours on ice."

Johnny made a dash after John Joe, but John Joe was a fleet skater, and sailed easily to a safe distance. "I'll visit you for this," exclaimed Johnny, pointing the finger of vengeance at John Joe, and it was expected that John Joe would suffer for it afterwards. He did not, though for a time afterwards Johnny seemed to lose respect for him.

As a boy, John Macdonald was considered by many to be of a vindictive disposition and possessed of a violent temper. He certainly was a passionate boy, but if he ever possessed any vindictiveness, he must eerily have seen its danger, and learned to control both it and his temper. His after career shows that in his dealings with his fellows his self-control increased with his years. Things that were put down by companions to vindictiveness might have had no worse a motive than the boy's inherent love of fun and mischief.

On one occasion, when they lived at Hay Bay, his sister Louise, and her companion, "Getty" Allen, got into the boat, but forgot their oars, when Johnny, seeing the situation, shoved them out into the bay. The two girls screamed and scolded by turns, while Johnny laughed. His mother came down, and with half-concealed enjoyment of the scene exclaimed :— "You wicked boy, what did you do that for? Suppose they upset?" "Then I would go and pull them in," and he waited for time and the evening breeze to waft them back to shore.

The family were apparently in good circumstances at this time, and were considered rather superior to their neighbors around. They were usually friendly and hospitable, but did not associate intimately with their neighbors, except in the case of Jude Fisher's family. Margaret and Louisa were both fond of music, and they had the only piano in this settlement. It had a small key-board, and legs almost as thin as the legs of a table, like the instruments of that time, and had a thin tone as well as thin legs. However, the music had sufficient charm to draw young visitors from many parts of the settlement to hear it. The sisters, besides being able to play, sang very well together, in part songs, the one taking soprano and the other alto.

Before the family returned to reside in Kingston, they lived for a year or two at a place then known as the Stone Mills— now called Glenora—just below one of  the natural curiosities of the place, the '' Lake on the Mountain." Here Mr. Macdonald leased a grist and carding mill, the running of which was only an indifferent success. The old stone mill still exists, and its situation on the side of the steep bluff is still as charming and almost as wild as then. Game must have been plentiful at that time, but our hero delighted in neither hunting nor fishing, and the only hunting story handed down in this connection is one to the effect that the Van Black boys, returning from a hunt, saw John coming up the road. They had shot a crow, and in order to have some fun, they braced this crow up on a stump in the adjoining field, and lingered around till their young friend came up. One of them casually called attention to the crow, when Johnny begged the gun «' to have a whack at it." He fired, but the crow never as much as turned his head, and it was only the laughter that followed the second shot that led the young marksman to suspect a joke had been played on him.

William Canniff, of Toronto, gives a reminiscence* of their life at the Stone Mills. Young Macdonald was always full of fun, and delighted to play tricks upon his playmates. On one occasion he aroused the displeasure of one of his companions'. The aggrieved boy, who was larger than he caught Johnny in the flour mill, and having laid him prostrate, proceeded to rub flour into the jet locks of his hair until it was quite white. When released the victim went scampering down the hill, laughing, and apparently appreciating the joke as mach as the perpetrator.


Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught, 
The love he bore to Learning was in fault.  —Goldsmith. 


Hugh Macdonald had early decided that his son should be educated for a lawyer, as he foresaw that, when the country grew and became more thickly settled, there would be a great demand tor professional men, who would be well paid. He also saw that the child had a natural aptitude for such a profession, and both he and Mrs. Macdonald appear to have had an abiding faith that their son would become a distinguished man. Old Mr. Welsh, a resident near Piclon, remembers passing the Stone Mills, and the day being warm, he was invited in by Mr. Macdonald to have a drink. As they sat chatting, little John A. flitted through the room, when the old man, following the boy with his finger, said: "There goes the star of Canada."

On another occasion his father was told of some of the lad's wild pranks, and the narrative was supplemented with a hint that these tricks would probably lead him to some bad end. The father shook his head in dissent, and said, '; Nae, nae, ye'll hear something Johnny yet."

On more than one occasion his mother, speaking of his rapid advance in his studies, said :—"Mark my words, John will make more than the ordinary man."

One of his schoolmates who went to school with him at the " Maxwell Academy," so called before the family moved to Hay Bay, often remarked that whenever the boy got into trouble he was always able to present his case in such a light that he invariably escaped punishment  and more than once the teacher, after these clever special pleadings, would remark, on letting him off, "You'll make a better lawyer than a clergyman."The father's opinion was therefore not a mare parent's prejudice.

It was decided after due consultation to said him to Dr. Wilson's Royal Grammar School in Kingston, putting him to board with one of his relatives. This step was take a after some hesitation on the part of the tender-hearted mother, who was not merely lot to have her son away from home, but had heard how strict and exciting the master was, and how hard the boy, already too studious, would be apt to worry.. However, this school had a great reputation, and to it John was sent. The boy's great talents were now unfolding, and it was not long before he became noted for his progress, especially in mathematics. Dr. Wilson died, and Mr. Baxter succeeded to the rector-ship. Old Baxter, with all his sternness, could not conceal his pride in this pupil; and when examination time came, and classes were required to show off to the best advantage, John Macdonald was nearly always called on to go to the blackboard and demonstrate the propositions. "Mr. Baxter frequently exhibited the clean kept books of young Macdonald to some careless student for emulation, and as often selected specimens of the neat penmanship of the boy to put to shame some of the slovenly writers of the class." (Collin's Life of Sir John A. Macdonald.)

John used to come home for his holidays to Hay Bay or the Stone Mills, and sometimes brought one of his city chums out with him, when the neighbor boys and girls would be invite 1 in for a dance.

One day, some time before an examination was to be held in Kingston, and when nobody was expecting him, John sheepishly presented himself at the door of his mother's house in Hay Bay. All astonishment, his father and mother inquired the cause of his home coming before the term was up or the examinations held. 

John was non-committal, and explained nothing; but his parents did not press him for an explanation, nor did they compel him to go back. He had of late studied very hard, and his mother more' than once had reason to fear his health would be injured by over study. She at least was satisfied that whatever trouble had happened, he would be none the worse for a rest from his studies. To their surprise, three or four days afterwards, a stranger presented himself at the door of the store, and it could not have surprised the good mother more if Dr. Busby had returned to life and become incarnated before her, when Mr. Baxter himself was announced. But the wonted sternness of Mr. Baxter's countenance was now relaxed, and after a few words of mildly expressed surprise at the disappearance of the boy, he confessed that the approaching examinations would never go off to his satisfaction unless John were there. He begged therefore that they would send him down at once, and no questions would be asked and no comments made on the truancy. What the immediate cause of the runaway was, did not transpire, but the boy, with his shrewd insight into character and motive, had read that Baxter was depending upon him for the eclat of the examination, and probably thought on occasion he would show the old gentleman his value and influence. Or it may have been that he disliked being made a show of, for he shrank from being paraded as a clever toy, and never strove for any of the prizes that were given.


Ah ! happy years ! Once more who would not be a boy? —Byron.


About the year 1833 the Macdonald family moved back to Kingston. Whether the circumstances of his family at the time would not warrant his sending the lad to college, or whether he saw that his son could qualify himself without, Hugh Macdonald took him from school, and articled him as a student to George MacKenzie, a prominent barrister of the city.

Here he studied diligently, and though fond of fun after hours, was a steady and persevering worker in the office, and Mr. MacKenzie spoke of him as the most diligent student he ever had. Here he remained till 1836, when he was called to the Bar of Upper Canada, at Toronto, at the Hilary term, thus becoming a barrister in his twenty-first year.

During the period of his studentship, circumstances favored him in a way to give him an early acquaintance with practical business and in dealing with men of the world. His cousin, Luther MacPherson, who had started in business as a lawyer in Picton, became sick, and was advised to go to the West Indies. Young John A. was asked to come and lake thj business in his absence, and he accepted. His first actual practice was, therefore, here, but the building in which the office was situated has since been burnt down. His first case was one in which his client sued the magistrate on some trifling ground, and he often afterwards told with great gusto of the magistrate's indignation at being thus bearded in his den, and the amusement the suit gave rise to.

His love of fur. here broke loose in many wild pranks with the boys at night, including the usual horse play of shifting people's signs, etc. One of the characters of the place was a burly and jolly-faced hotel keeper named Bob Hopkins, who was very fond of fast horses, and never drove through the village but at a breakneck pace, which attracted everybody's attention. While Bob was down the village one night, John A. and the boys conceived the idea of checking his mad career homeward by building a rail fence across the road. This being done, the boys, like Brer Fox in the story of the tar baby, lay off in the grass, "to see what de news was gwine to be." And they did not have to wait long till the buggy of Bob Hopkins was heard rattling up the street. Along came the horse at his usual impetuous pace, and dashed full tilt against the fence. There was a distant roar of laughter and a stampede, but that poor horse came out of the encounter maimed, the buggy was smashed, and Bob arose from the wreck a most astonished but, happily, uninjured man. The magistrate, a sort of Justice 

Shallow, heard of the case the next day, and felt that something must be done. Somebody must be punished, and so he caused the arrest, on suspicion, of a man who was not one of the party at all, and had not even heard of the affair. But There were some unexplained circumstances about his whereabouts on that evening, and the poor fellow was actually on the point of being convicted, when young Macdonald's sense of justice compelled him to go to the magistrate and confess that he was the ringleader, and that the accused was perfectly innocent. How the perpetrator managed to put the case so as to escape arrest himself is not known; but he afterwards, in telling the story, said the incident impressed him strongly with the doubtfulness of circumstantial evidence.

A friend who knew him well here gives this reminiscence of his Picton life : "When he was reading law in Picton, he used to get into some funny scrapes, but always had friends to help him through. There was a certain Dr. here, who was a strong Reformer at that time, and as the Orangemen were mostly Conservatives, this doctor did not like them, I suppose more on that account than from being Orangemer. One Twelfth of July they walked in Picton, and the doctor came rushing up town, saying: 'What a shame it is for those ruffians to come in to destroy the peace of the town. There will be bloodshed.' John A., with several young gentlemen, were standing in front of the Hopkins House, when he slipped behind the doctor, and pinned a long Orange ribbon lo his coat. When the doctor found it out he was very angry. The gentlemen that were with John A. told him he had better see the doctor and apologize, as he was an elderly gentleman. 

John A. did so; but in the-afternoon the doctor, coming up the street, again saw the same parties in the same place laughing, and supposed they were laughing at him. The doctor, stopping, said: 'Some puppy pinned an Orange ribbon to my coat this morning. He was not an Irishman, nor an Englishman, but a lousy Scotchman.' John replied: 'Doctor, I apologized, and said I was sorry for what I did, but you must not speak in that way of my nationality, for I will not put up with it.' The doctor answered : 'Shut up, you puppy, or I will box your ears.' John A. replied: 'You are not able.' The doctor kicked at him, but John A. caught his foot, threw him down, and was hammering away (to the delight of the by-standers) when a magistrate appeared on the scene, commanding peace in the King's name, and telling the crowd to stand back. The magistrate pulled John A. off the doctor, but as he did so he whispered, ' Hit him again, Johnnie!"'

Luther MacPherson, whose business the lad had conducted with great intelligence, grew worse in the West Indies, and died on the passage home. He was born on the sea, and on the sea he died.So good an impression of ability had the lad created here, that the business men of the village offered to guarantee him ^100 if he would stay; but he returned to Kingston, after arranging his cousin's affairs.

One of his cronies in Picton was James Porter, now in his 81st year, who, when the writer saw him last summer, was sitting in his shop, on a low bench, dreaming over a side of . leather. "Yes," he said, going back in mind to the events of that year, "there wasn't much fun that John A. wasn't up to, and I never went to Kingston in after years but what old Hugh and me had a jollification. Hugh was as fond of a good drop as John A. and me. And whenever I saw John A. on the street, why, bless you, he wouldn't wait for me to come and speak, but he would duck his head in that peculiar way of his, and come right across the street to shake hands. 'Damn it, Porter,' he would say, 'are you alive yet?' Everybody drank in them days, and they had their match in me; but, dear me, whiskey carried off a good many, and some of them our best men, too. And I am the only one left here of the boys of that time."*

But notwithstanding these "breaks," John was considered a studious boy, compared with the lads of the time. "I remember him well," said one who was a boy here at the time, "as he sat under the willow tree at Luther MacPherson's, studying intently, while I was playing leap frog with the boys on the tan bark which carpeted the road all about there.''

After leaving Picton, he appears to have spent a few months as clerk in a store in Pleasant Valley, then a hamlet known as Slab Creek. Afterwards, he went to assist a friend and schoolmate named Ramsay, who had started the first law office in Napanee. Returning here from a visit home, he was thrown by a fractious horse, and broke his arm. While here he attended a Sunday school, and was a member of the choir in the English church, which met then in the school house.

*Mr. Porter gives the date of Sir John's sojourn here as 1833.

The Rev. Saltern Givens, who had charge of the church, has often recalled the circumstance, with the observation that the youth made a better politician than he was likely to make a singer. Within three years after young Macdonald had become a barrister, his old employer George MacKenzie died, and he fell into the business. Mr. MacKenzie's was one of the best practices in the city. Besides a good general practice, he was solicitor to the old Commercial Bank and to the Trust and Loan Company, both strong corporations; and to all this the young man succeeded, and soon accumulated considerable money, with some of which he bought city property. He soon began to support his father and mother and sisters, to whom he was always kind, dutiful and attentive in after years.


And if they ever come again,
They'll get what they don't seek, sir; 
Just what they got at Lundy's Lane, 
And also Stoney Creek, sir!  — Old Song.


The political storm that burst upon the country in the Rebellion of 1837 was gathering its force when he went into the world to gain his livelihood, He had grown up a Tory, and loved the institutions of his adopted as well as his motherland, and it is not surprising to know that when at last the rebellion broke out, he became a member of the militia corps. Those familiar with this epoch of Canadian history will remember the episode of the Windmill below Prescott. 

The name of the brave man who led this ill-judged invasion has been so frequently connected with Sir John A. Macdona'.d, that some account of him should be given here, especially as the historians of the Rebellion have given us little or nothing of his personality. 

It will be seen, however, that a curious misapprehension exists in the public mind as to Sir John's connection with Von Schoultz's trial and execution. An organization, in strong sympathy with the disaffected, portion of the Canadian population, existed in the United States, known as the "Hunters," a secret body of men bound by oath to "uproot every power or authority of Royal origin on this continent," and to promote Republican ideas throughout the world. The "Hunters' Lodges," as their local assemblies were called, existed in many States of the Union (They counted 150,000 members at one time), but were very strong in New York, especially among the counties on the frontier. The leaders sedulously taught the idea that the Canadian people were in a condition of semi-slavery, under a military despotism, and only awaited a little help to rise and declare for a republic, or for the Republic. 

Among those who listened to these tales of misery was Neils Szoltevcki Von Schoultz, a handsome and well educated young Pole, who, though now only thirty-one years old, had already passed through a bloody war in which he had seen the dreadful spectacle of his native land overrun and crushed by the out-numbering Sclavs. His father, with whom he fought, was a major in the Polish army, at the battle which broke his country's spirit at Warsaw. His father fell fighting under the walls of the city, and the son was taken prisoner. He escaped with seventeen others from the Russian guards, and in 1836 emigrated to New York.* Finding his way to Sclina, he went to work at the Salt Springs, and discovered a process of refining the brine from the springs, for which it is said he received $100,000. His chivalrous disposition fired up at the stories of oppression that were told of Canada, and he became one of the leaders of the "Hunters." He was associated in this with a "General" Birge, Bill Johnston and "Colcnel" Eustus, the command of the expedition devolving upon Birge.

Von Schoultz devoted nearly all his means to the cause, and organizing a gang of men, started about the middle of November, 1838, in a vessel from Oswego, to join Birge at Ogdensburgh, where several hundreds were in arms to meet him, and where these were to be joined by thousands more when needed. Von Schoultz's plan, which was well conceived, was to descend suddenly upon Prescott, and occupy the fort which was then being built there, and, using that as a base of operations, march on Kingston. When he arrived opposite Prescott and Ogdensburgh, Birge, instead of pushing out to join him, slinked away from his men  and the seconds in command, having grounded their vessel on a rock, took advantage of the accident, and put back to the American side, leaving Von Schoultz to land with 170 men, who, finding themselves on strange soil, begged him to lead them back. But Von Schoultz refused to do this, and, sending the boat back for reinforcements, occupied a large stone mill and adjoining buildings, a mile and a half below Prescott. 

They had crossed on a Sunday night, and all day Monday they waited for the reinforcements, that never came. An attempt was made to send a force across, or to reconnoiter in an armed steamer, but the British steamer "Experiment" came down the river, and drove back every craft that approached the Canadian shore. Meantime, a body of the 83rd was landed, and co-operating with a detachment of militia and two cannons, made an attack on the place. The stone mill, being a circular tower of great strength, resisted the artillery, and though the invaders were driven in, they could not easily be dislodged. While the fight was going on, thousands of spectators watched it from the wharves and windows of Ogdensburgh, and those on board the "Experiment" could hear them cheer whenever the defenders appeared to have the advantage. In one of the assaults Lieut. Johnson, on the British side, fell within a few feet of the house, and the Marines, in attempting to carry him off, were forced to retreat after many of their number had been wounded. It was said that the patriots under cover of darkness came out, and brutally mangled the officer's corps?, but they afterwards maintained that it was done by the pigs.

In response to the pleadings of his men to find some means of escape, Von Schoultz, in the night, sent a man across the river on a plank to get a boat, but the patriot Hunters' courage had oozed out. At length, Von Schoultz, finding no sign of help, and seeing the besiegers reinforced, yielded to the clamors of  his men, and held out a white flag from the towers of the mill.

The excitement had grown high at Kingston, and the yeomanry had flocked in to defend the town in the absence' of the regulars. It was mentioned that Capt. Beilh, an old neighbor of Hugh Macdonald's, living now in a back concession of the township of Kingston, had got the news at ten in the morning, and at three in the afternoon was at his station in town with 50 or 60 fine young men. John A. Macdonald was among the volunteers who went to reinforce the troops at the mill, but when his detachment got there all was over.* A batch of prisoners previously captured had been brought in during the day, and at night 87 more, with their stores and equipment (among the trophies being a flag with an eagle and a star, and the words "Onondaga Hunters" and "Canada Liberated" worked in fancy letters upon it), were marched in. The whole population turned out, and the houses of the principal streets were illuminated. The prisoners were marched through the streets, tied in pairs, with poor Von Schoultz at their head, without his hat, receiving the cheers and jeers of the crowd as they were taken to the Fort. But indignation gave place to pity, when the citizens discovered that half the prisoners were mere boys : some of them under fourteen who had been led away by these cowardly agitators; and there are people alive in Kingston to-day who have not forgotten the impression made upon them by the sight of the pale and desponding faces of those poor lads, when they were seen in prison or brought on trial. This was not at first realized, however, and one of the local papers, describing their appearance, quaintly remarked: "We were much struck at the abominable weapons which the pirates carried about with them. The Bowie knife is certainly a fit instrument in the hands of such a set of cut-throats."

In due course the prisoners were court-martial. The younger and more innocent ones were allowed to go, but numbers were condemned to death. Poor Vo i Schoultz soon saw that he had been misled as to the real position of affairs in Canada, which he had imagined to be in the condition of his native land, and bitterly regretted being the means of bringing his equally deluded followers over. He had prepared a statement before the magistrate, and when his case came on, asked if the statement would be sent to the Lieut.-Governor. On being told it would, he pleaded guilty. The Judge Advocate who presided cautioned him as to the consequences of his plea, and said that in the circumstances of the country he could hold out no hope of mercy. Von Schoultz replied that he was aware of the consequences of his plea, and could only say that he had been induced to take command of the expedition under false impressions ; but now he had discovered his delusion, and there was no use in saying anything in excuse. In his statement he described the circumstances of the invasion, and said, that finding himself on the Canadian side, with no means of getting back, he could only defend himself as best he could. It was clear also from his verbal explanation that the inhumanity, if done to Lieut. Johnson's body, was not known to or countenanced by him. As a matter of form, some witnesses were brought up against him, and among these were two French Canadian boys, one of fourteen and the other described as "very young," who wept bitterly. He was sentenced to be hanged.

In the few days that remained to him he wrote two or three letters. In one of these to J. R. Parker, of Oswego, he begged him to make known through the American papers that he had been kindly treated by the British officers and jail officials. Detailing the siege, he went on to say: "At daik (on Friday) I was informed that all had surrendered. I then also surrendered. I was stripped to my shirt sleeves by the militia in the first moment of their anger and fury. Even my bonnet was taken away. 

It is a consolation to have had to deal with a brave and noble-minded enemy. We are tried by court-martial. I have had my trial, and am prepared for death." In another letter he had execrated the cowardice of "Gen." Birge and others, but the day before the execution he wrote to Warren Green, a friend at Selina, saying: "When you get this letter, I am no more. I have been informed that my execution will take place to-morrow. May God forgive them that brought me to this untimely death. I have made up my mind, and I forgive them. To-day I have been promised a lawyer to draw up my will. I have appointed you my executor of said will. I wrote you in my former letter about my body. I wish it may be delivered to you, to be buried on your farm. I have no time to write long to you, because I have great need of communicating with my Creator, and prepare for His presence. The time is short that has been allowed. My last wish to the Americans is that they may not think of avenging my death. Let no further blood be shed, and, believe me, from what I have seen, that all the stories that were told about the sufferings of the Canadian people were untrue. Give my love to your sister, and tell her I think on her as on my mother. God reward her for all her kindness. I further beg you to take care of W. Johnson, so that he may find an honorable bread. Farewell, my dear friend; may God bless and protect you."

He left an estate of ^4,000. One quarter he bequeathed to the girl (referred to in the letter) whom he was to have married; £100 to the Catholic College at Kingston; and 400 to the widows and orphans of the British militia who fell in :he fight. These bequests and a letter of gratitude he left for the jailer's wife were the best evidences the man could have left of a noble mind. The letter last quoted was written on the night of December 7th. The next morning, as the cold shadows were lifting and revealing the gray outlines of old Fort Henry, he was taken in a, cart, accompanied by the two Catholic priests who had sat up with him for the two nights before, and escorted by a guard of the Frontenac dragoons and detachment? of the 73rd and 83rd regiments, was conveyed from the jail to the glaces of the fort, and there swung upon the scaffold. His demeanor was courageous but without bravado. He walked up to the scaffold, put the rope round his own neck, and placing his hands in his pockets, without a word calmly waited the event. 

*There was no speech made by John A. Macdonald at the trial, and the stories of the great forensic effort which helped to make the young lawyer famous are baseless, unless the drawing up of Von Schoultz's will could be considered a ground. Almost every biographical sketch written of Sir John speaks of this remarkable speech, which was never made. The local papers of the time spoke of Daniel George, and one or two other prisoners being "assisted in their defense by John A. Macdonald, Esq., barrister," but do not even name him in connection with Von Schoultz. Sir John himself, not long ago, replying to the writer on this point, wrote: 

"I never delivered any speech in favor of Von Schoultz, in 1838, or at any other time." 

Now, how did the impression get abroad, and become fixed in the public mind as one of the romantic incidents that formed a turning point in Sir John's career? That is a mystery ; but it is no more a mystery than the idea, which has prevailed for a thousand years, that the Ten Tribes of Israel were completely lost in the captivity, and were to be identified as a body in some nation in the future, when , as a matter of fact, only 27,280 were dragged off into Assyria. These, it is true, were the princes, rulers and leading men of the nation, and by their deportation the government of the country was broken up; so that while Israel " representatively" went into captivity, "the tribal inheritances retained their old names, and were inhabited, partly, at least, by Israelites in Josiah's time, 100 years later." (III. Christian Weekly.) Members of the tribes were left on their old possessions, while many were fugitives in Judah. Nor is it any more remarkable than the fiction, which has done service in the pulpit and press for two or three hundred years, perhaps, that the ostrich buries its head in the sand at the approach of danger.

Since this note was written, the following has been placed in my hands, from the London Advertiser, confirming the correction made in the bio


We twain have met like ships upon the sea, 
Who hold an hour's converse, so short, so sweet, 
One little hour! and then away they speed, 
On lonely paths, through raise and cloud and foam, 
To meet no more!  —Alexander Smith,


The years of John A. Macdonald's life between 1836 and his entry into Parliament in 1844 were passed in the practice of his profession at Kingston.

A year before the Von Schoultz episode, " there came to the office one day, a chubby little lad, with large prominent eyes, and a methodical walk and manner of speaking, stating that he wanted to study law. The firm took the lad; he is today graph now current;—A legal gentleman, who spent his student years in the office of Sir John A. Macdonald at Kingston, asserts that the biographers of the statesman are all wrong when they say that he made his first big strike at the bar as counsel for Von Schoultz, the alien charged with fomenting the rebellion of 1837-8. Our informant maintains that Von Schoultz was among the prisoners who were tried by court-martial, they being aliens, and not answerable to the charge of treason to this country. Disposed of in this way, Von Schoultz was not entitled to counsel. The case in which young Macdonald made the brilliant defence that first ma le him famous as a barrister was either a criminal assault on a woman, or murder. The prisoner's name was Brass, and Macdonald defended him with great ability, but he was found guilty and hanged. 

Another case in which he displayed splendid ability as an advocate was the suit of Bray vs. Sundow, an action for false imprisonment. The plaintiff was the father of Dr. Bray, of Chatham, and the defendant commodore of the lakes. This suit he won, notwithstanding that the experienced Robert Baldwin, Attorney-General for the West, was the opposing counsel.

the Premier of Ontario."* Oliver Mowat's father had been a soldier under Lord Wellington in the peninsular campaigns, and had come out and settled in Kingston in 1816. Here he started a grocery store on the humblest scale, but was able, by economy, industry, integrity and perseverance, to make headway and send his children to school. Oliver, the eldest son, decided to follow the law, and at the age of 18 presented himself at the office of John A. Macdonald, as a candidate for the place of student. What an interesting thing would have been a picture, by pen and photograph, of this interview in which these two planets crossed each other's orbits. We can imagine the short stature, the plain and homely attire, the same hat bland but intelligent smile, the open face, the fresh countenance, whose every lineament was marked with candor, honesty and good-will,—the modest bearing, and withal the steadiness and constancy of purpose that could be told in the very sitting down and rising up of young Oliver Mowat. We can imagine the tall and lithe figure, and carelessly stylish dress of young John A.; we can imagine the smack of the lips, the peculiar jerking nod of the head, the inimitable twinkle of the eye, the mobile face, whose varied play of expression was indicating how instantly he apprehended every phase of character in the ingenuous young face before him; we can imagine how the machinery of this complex mind, working with lightning-like rapidity, was taking in all this, forecasting the young student's success, and yet all the while conjuring up flashes of wit or quaint thought, that would rise for utterance on the subject of the interview. We can imagine this, but that is all; and so we confine ourselves to this simple statement, that the youth, who was to become the Premier of the greatest province of the Dominion, and whose career was to be as remarkable in many respects as that of the future Dominion Premier, was promptly accepted by John A. Macdonald, and studied with him for four years, when in 1841 he passed as a barrister at Toronto.

Not much is at present to be recorded of their intercourse. John A. afterwards used to say in a vein of humor:—" One strong point I admired about Mowat was his handwriting." But he learned to admire and respect more points about Mr. Mowat than his handwriting.On a recent occasion, Sir John said: "I have known Mr. Mowat all my life. He was in my office when he was a boy, and I was one of the administrators of his father's estate. I can say that Mr. Mowat is an upright, honest man."

It may be said that John A. never grew old; there was what Sir Charles Dilke called an antique youthfulness about him up to the hour when he was stricken with the paralysis which carried him off; but in these days there was in him that exuberant love of pranks which belonged to youth, and there are many stories told of his "capers." Not very long since one of these was told, in the Kingston Whig, by Mr. C. McMillan, one of his youthful compeers, who still lives in that city. It is as follows :— "In the year 1841 or 1842 [it was in 1844] or half a century ago, I cast my first vote in the city for Mr., now Sir John A., Macdonald, it being his candidature for a seat in the Parliament of Canada, and in opposition to Anthony Manahan, the previous sitting member.

Being at that time a comparative stranger, I took no active part or interest in the election, other than casting my vote.But at a more subsequent election, 1847, I took (in conjunction with Harry Bartliff and my brother William) a very active part in the way of canvassing, and otherwise aiding in the interest of Mr. Macdonald.

I think his opponent was John Counter, the good and energetic seven years' mayor of Kingston. But the former carried the election by a large majority.At this general election the party to which Mr. Macdonald belonged came into power, and he was offered and accepted the portfolio of Receiver-General. It therefore became necessary to return to his constituents for re-election, having for an opponent Mr. McKenzie, subsequently made county judge. The latter was left in the minority by a large number of votes.It was at this election that Harry Bartliff, William and I made up our minds to give our twice-elected member and Henry Smith, subsequently knighted, and who had just been elected for the county, a good send-off to Montreal, where the Parliament was then held.

We clubbed together, and hired a four-in-hand from George Wink, and decorated wagon and horses with about twenty small flags. We drove first to Macdonald's residence on Brock street, since burned, and then to Smith's on Princess street, and from there to Greer's wharf.

Finding the steamer 'Princess Royal' for Montreal had not arrived, we proposed to drive the newly elected members as far as Waterloo. On the way out it was suggested that the city member might favor us with a brief speech, but he excused himself by promising to make a short speech at Waterloo. In the meanwhile he proposed telling a story, which he assured us he was about telling for the first time.

He said that about eight or nine years previously, while studying law in Mr. Cartwright's office, he and three or four chums were going home one summer night, when on Rear Street they observed the roadway covered with limestone to be used as a foundation for the street. Macdonald suggested that as it was yet early,—one o'clock—they would have time to build a pretty decent sized wall with the material.

'Where shall we build the wall?' was the query.
'Well,' said Macdonald, 'there is Jemmy Williamson's grocery store just across the street.'
'What's the matter with it?'
'It would not look amiss with a nice new stone front added to it.'

All agreed, and to work they went. For two hours they never worked so hard in their lives. At the end of that time they had completed a wall about seven feet high and eight feet long, completely closing up the shop door. They then gathered up small stones, and throwing a few at a time at the up-stairs windows, where the old gentleman slept, they awoke him, an.i raising the wind >w, he inquired, 'Who's there? what's the matter?' Hearing nothing he closed the window, but the stones were again flung, and the window again went up. Hearing nothing he again retired. Presently, a light appeared in the room, and the conspirators guessed the old gentleman was miking his way downstairs. They crowded close to the stone wall to hear how Jemmy would express his surprise.

They heard the door open, and the first exclamation was one of profound astonishment,—' My God! what is this I see? Has the house tumbled down since I went to bed? What does this thing mean? What sin have I committed that this horror should fall on me?'

Macdonald said they heard no more. They hurried home, reaching it before daylight.

Macdonald said he passed the store the next day, and the wall had vanished. 'And,' said Macdonald, 'were it not for the fact of the circumstance being mentioned in the papers, I should have been inclined to think it was all a dream.'

We drove up to the hotel at Waterloo, and were shown to a room upstairs. We took seats around a large table. Smith raised the window at his back as high as it would admit—the weather being warm. He took a cigar out of his pocket, and rose to obtain a light from Mr. Bartliff, who was smoking on the opposite side of the table. In the meantime the landlord came upstairs to take orders, and seeing the chair that Smith rose up from in his way, he moved it to one side, took our orders and started to go downstairs.

At the same time J. A. Macdonald mounted the removed chair to deliver his promised speech, but Smith, not dreaming the chair had been disturbed, went to resume his seat. What a catastrophe! The soles of his boats made for the ceiling, and his umbrella—he. had it in his hand—made a dart through the window, struck one of the horses resting quietly in front of the house, and started them both, and they struck out for Odessa like a streak of lightning.

In the meanwhile we all gathered around our fallen friend, raised him, rubbed his back, shoulders and elbows, and found he was none the worse for the fall. We lost John A.'s speech, Smith at first felt inclined to be annoyed, but the landlord apologized, and explained that the moving of the chair was purely accidental. When he was made to understand that it was no practical joke, he laughed as loud as any.

The team was stopped about a mile from the hotel, and brought back without the slightest damage. We drove to the city, and escorted our friends on board the steamer. On leaving the wharf we gave them three rousing cheers."

Mr. McMillan did not give the sequel of the story, which, though it is anticipating the time, may be told here. John A. had become Receiver General, and was then living in Montreal, the seat of Government. One of the eccentric characters of this time was a man named Dolly, a restaurant keeper, who dressed entirely in velvet and wore knee breeches, and whose place was a resort for many of the members of Parliament. John A. came with a crowd one afternoon, and began to entertain them with stories. Darkness came on and tea was served, and still the stories went on; the evening wore along, and at last the hour of midnight struck, and John A., with a few interruptions from other speakers, was still the chief speaker; and when the small hours had passed and daylight appeared, John A. still held his company awake and laughing, and so he went on, spinning story after story. The party had spent a good deal, and drunk a good deal during the night, and when breakfast time came, Dolly entertained them with a free fish breakfast, placing the biggest fish before John A. While they were discussing this, John A. told this story of Williamson and the stone wall. Williamson himself was present, but John A., pretended not to be aware of this till he had finished, when he took a sly glance in the direction of his victim. Williamson shook his fist at John A., saying, " And so you were the villain that played that trick," and then he broke into a laugh. This was the first time he had heard who the real perpetrator was.

It was in August,' 1843, that John A. Macdonald contracted his first marriage, with his cousin. The story is briefly told in Rattray's "The Scot in British North America," as follows: "Hugh Macdonald (Sir John's father) had removed to Glasgow and married Helen Shaw of Badenoch, Inverness-shire. * * A sister of Miss Shaw was married to Capt. Alexander Clark, and one of the daughters of the couple, Maria Clark, accompanied the Macdonald family to Canada. When young John Alexander had grown to man's estate, he paid a visit to Scotland, and there met Miss Maria's sister and his own cousin—Miss Isabella Clark. This young lady came out to pay her sister a visit, and the two cousins fell violently in love." Miss Clark was a beautiful girl of fair complexion, with bright blue eyes and a pleasing manner. She had been a healthy girl, but shortly after they were married she caught cold through sleeping in wet blankets on a steamer, and consumption followed. She was sent to health resorts, and treated by the doctors, but gradually declined, and in the middle of Christmas week in 1857 she passed away. They had two children. The first, who was named John A., was born while the mother was on a visit to New York, and died in 1848, at the age of 13. The second child, Hugh John, lived, became an intelligent lad, much like his father in physiognomy and gesture, and like him became a lawyer by profession. By a singular conjunction of events the son became a partner with Mr. Tupper, a son of Sir John's old and trusted colleague, Sir Charles Tupper, the High Commissioner for Canada in England. The young man started in business in Winnipeg, and Hugh John Macdonald, though always having an inborn distaste for politics, was persuaded to stand for election for the city of Winnipeg, in the election of 1891, and was returned by a large majority.

As showing the likeness of Hugh John to his father, a good story comes from Winnipeg. A little boy, seeing Hugh pass along the street, called out to his mother, " Mother, there goes that bad man." "What bad man, my child?" "Why," replied the boy, " that bad man in Grip I"


Yong, friesch and strong, in armes desirous 
is eny bachiler of al his hous. —The Canterbury Tales.


For some time Mr. Macdonald had contemplated entering public life, but the final decision, as related by one who knew him well, was sudden. He had already been elected president of the St. Andrew's Society (about 1841), when one day he met the late John Shaw—a prominent Orangeman—on the street, and said: "Mr. Shaw, what shall I do to became popular?"

"Join our lodge and run for alderman."

Inside of a month he was both an Orangeman and an alderman. This and many other anecdotes that might be related show that the notion that he always put off everything is quite a misconception. No one was more prompt to act when the occasion really required it, and where action was in his own interest. In fact, his principle was that which Lord Be aconsfield afterwards put into a terse expression—it was opportunity, not time, that great men look for.Here was the opportunity, and how promptly he took it! Two young men, he and the late Robert Anglin, ran against two old members, and it thus became a case of youth versus age. It excited a good deal of interest, as John A. was contesting the most populous ward of the chy, and the young men worked hard for him. 

The election was very close and keen. Macdonald and Anglin were elected, and the young men were so pleased thit they built a platform on the market, and after Sir John and his friends had mounted it, the electors carried it on their shoulders, and the result was a capsize. The slush was deep on the ground, and as Sir John brushed his clothes, he remarked: "Isn't it strange I should have a downfall so soon." The crowd cheered

His capacity for dealing with men and measures at once showed itself in the Council; and during the two years he remained in the City Council, there were few measures he set his hand to that he did not carry out. He was said to be a master at handling committees. It was during his councillorship that a member, Mr. J. H. Grier, proposed that instead of being elected by popular vote, the mayor should be chosen by the Council. This was considered a good change, and it was imagined that Mr. Grier expected the honor to himself as the father of the reform. When it came to the vote, however, Mr. Grier only got one vote, and that vote was supposed to have been cast by himself. "Great guns," remarked John A., after the balloting was over, "if he had only had another vote we could all have sworn it was ours '" John A., though he did not vole for him, had recommended him, and probably smitten with a slight remorse for not voting for him, said to Grier: "If it is ever in my power to make amends, I will do so." He did not forget the promise. Years afterwards he appointed Mr. Grier registrar of the county of Wentworth at a good salary, and in the enjoyment of that place he lived till his death.

Mr. Flanagan, then assistant city clerk, and the only one left of the Council or officers of that date, says John A. was the life of the Council, and always made the affairs interesting. One time, having prepared the mayor by a wink, he gravely proposed that the civic officials be required to appear in uniforms, and proceeded to describe the gorgeous colors and striking adornments that should be needed in the case of the leading officers. The dignified clerk and treasurer listened with amazement at this startling proposal, and the clerk, dropping his pen, muttered that if such a monstrous thing were done, he should resign. After keeping them on tenter-hooks for a while, John A. laughingly withdrew the motion, and the aldermen, some of whom had taken the proposition seriously, joined in the laugh.

John A. had entered the Council in 1843, and was sworn in by John Solomon Cartwright—uncle of Sir Richard Cartwright—who was his steadfast patron and friend. 

One of his first acts was to present a petition for Oliver Mowat, an uncle of the Premier of Ontario, and, strange to say, when he resigned his seat in 1846, he was succeeded in his ward by John Mowat, the Hon. Oliver Mowat's father.

It was some years afterwards that the city clerkship became vacant, and, to show John A.'s steadfastness to his friends, he came all the way from Quebec to vote for Mr. Flanagan, who secured the position. This gentleman relates the following anecdote: Besides having great courage in debate, Mr. Flanagan said Sir John was a brave man otherwise. He remembers when a serious fire occurred on Princess street, and Sir John turned out with the firemen to fight the flames, which spread so rapidly that the hoseman was unable to get near enough to make the water supply of effective service. Sir John hurriedly nailed a number of boards together, and then asked for assistance to plant the shield near the building. Mr. Flanagan approached him, and said: "Mr. Macdonald, it is reported that there are several kegs of powder in the cellar, and that the building will soon blow up." The reply was, "For goodness sake, don't make that known, else we will be left alone, and there is no telling where the fire will stop." Raising the shield, he carried it forward, and placed it close to the building. 

From behind it the hoseman did good service, and the feared explosion did not occur.In his cleverness in getting out of a pit, John A. possessed all the cunning of the fox in the fable. In the course of his practice he was called upon by the late Dr. Stewart, an eccentric gentleman, who at one time edited a paper, called the Argus. The paper became noted for its violent language, and, what is a misfortune for a paper, had rather strong prejudices against individuals. Among these was Kenneth MacKenzie, afterwards made county judge of Lennox and Addington by John A.; and one day an abusive article appeared about him. Mr. MacKenzie promptly brought a libel suit against the Argus, and Dr. Stewart begged John A. to take the case. He did so, and instead of justifying the libelous article, he called witnesses to prove that the paper had no circulation, that little regard was paid to its denunciations, and that Mr. MacKenzie was so well known and so universally esteemed (which was the case), that no amount of abuse from such a source could injure his reputation. To one witness he would say: " Did you read this article in the Argus?" "No, I only heard of it." 

"If you had read it, would you have believed it?" "No." "Do you think you would be influenced against Mr. MacKenzie by anything appearing in such a paper?" "Certainly not." And so on, all the witnesses being called to throw' ridicule on the bare idea of a man so generally respected as Mr. MacKenzie being injured in the general esteem by such means. The result was that Dr. Stewart escaped without damages, and yet Mr. MacKenzie was satisfied.Dr. Stewart, with all his eccentricities, was much liked by John A., and while the latter lived at Kingston, they were very intimate, and frequent visitors at each other's houses. They were both of Highland extraction, and it is a remarkable coincidence that Dr. Stewart died on Sir John's last birthday, nth January, 1891, and Sir John, within the same year, died on the anniversary of the worthy Doctor's birthday.

 John A. Macdonald Autograph


"Simplex is in! hurrah !" they cry, 
 Again the bonfires blaze on high; 
 Again excited faces show 
How warm the fires of passion glow  —The Politician, by T. W. P.


Meantime John A.'s bark was easily and gracefully riding the wave of popularity ; and it was soon to weigh anchor, and put out on the stormy sea of politics. 

It was in April, 1844, that a requisition, signed by 225 citizens of more or less prominence, was presented to him, asking him to stand for election as member of Parliament to represent the city. Among the signers were Sir Henry Smith, John Mowat (Hon. O. Mowat's father), Hon. John Kirby, all of whom have passed away. Sir Alexander Campbell, now Lieut.-Governor of Ontario, Alex. Drummond and many others, who in after life attained prominence—some of them, it may be said, owing to the accident or good fortune of being a friend of Sir John. The requisition and its reply are here given, and it will be seen that the young candidate accepted it without any affectation or any false hesitancy, and expressed himself, as he undoubtedly felt, grateful for the chance :—


Sir,—It being generally understood that a vacancy is shortly to take place in the representation of this town, and being desirous of a representative upon whose integrity and talent all classes of the citizens may safely rely, we, the undersigned electors, request you will permit us to put you in nomination as a candidate for the representation of this town, whenever a vacancy may occur, believing, as we do, that to your care and advocacy may safely be entrusted the interests of the town and the maintenance of those sound and liberal principles of public policy for which the inhabitants of Kingston have ever been distinguished.


Gentlemen,—With feelings of greater pride and gratitude than I can express, I have received your requisition inviting me to become a candidate for the representation of Kingston, at the next vacancy. The mode in which I can best evince my high sense of the honor you have done me is at once to lay aside all personal consideration, and accede to your request. When I observe the' numerous names which are attached to this requisition, and which comprises men of all shades of political opinion, I am inspired with the hope of a successful result. Should that result, however, be unsuccessful, it will always afford me the highest gratification to have received such flattering proof of the confidence of so many of my friends and fellow-citizens.
In presenting myself to the electors of Kingston as a candidate for their suffrages, I have no object of personal ambition to gratify, except a desire to advance the inter;sts of the town in which I have lived so long, and with whose fortunes my own prosperity is identified, as well as to maintain those principles of public policy which you justly style "sound and liberal," and which have always actuated our loyal old town. In a young country like Canada, I am of opinion that it is of more consequence to endeavor to develop its resources and improve its physical advantages, than to waste the time of the Legislature and the money of the people in fruitless discussions on abstract and theoretical questions of government.
One great object of my exertions, if elected, will be to direct the attention of the Legislature to the settlement of the back townships of the district, hitherto so utterly neglected, and to press for the construction of the long projected plank road to Perth and the Ottawa, and thus make Kingston the market for a large and fertile, though hitherto valueless, country.
1s this desirable object once attained, the prosperity of our town will be established on a firmer basis.Permit me, in conclusion, to repeat my warmest thanks for the honor you have done me, and for the confidence you express in me, and to state that I will not fail, as soon as my professional avocation will allow, to wait on you and the other electors individually.
I am, gentlemen,
Your obedient and obliged servant,
John A. Macdonald.

To the Hon. John Kirby and the signers of the requisition.

The election was an exciting one, although the result had been a foregone conclusion. Indeed, at the nomination—which was determined then by a show of hands—a number of his own young friends held up their hands against him, because they were afraid he would go in by acclamation, and in those days an election was such a time of jollification, that to let a candidate be elected by acclamation meant the loss of a great deal of fun. His opponent was a Mr. Manahan, whom he defeated by a majority of 311, which was a sweeping one for the time. The voting then, as most readers are aware, was by open vote, and the election lasted for two days, during which time there was much drinking of whiskey, occasional fighting, and a good deal of intimidation. It was understood that the candidates would supply whiskey for their friends and supporters, and it may be presumed that John A., did not fail in this regard.
A great throng had gathered at the City Hall, when John A., then in the back-ground, was called upon for a speech. Henry (afterwards Sir Henry) Smith called to John A. to come up. Sir Henry was big, bluff and burly—a kind of man who might have been selected by the manager of a theater as a "chucker out,"—and with his great iron elbows made a furrow through the crowd, while John A. hopped nimbly after him, grinning. John A. made a long and lively speech, thanking the electors, but it has not been reported.
In due course, the young man of twenty-nine departed for the capital, Montreal, and was noticed to kiss his mother and sister affectionately as he bade them good-bye at the wharf.  His first appearance in the legislative hall was, therefore, the second parliament after the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1840. The seat of government had only this year (1844) been moved to Montreal from Kingston, and the building in which it met was built on the site of the present St. Ann's Market. Lird Metcalfe was Governor General and Mr. Draper was Premier; John A. was elected as his supporter. The Parliament had assembled on the 28th November^ and John A.'s first vote was upon the election of Speaker. He voted for Sir Allan McNab, who was elected by the narrow majority of three.
It has often been said that John A. Macdonald did not take any active part in the proceedings of Parliament for two or three years after he entered it, but this is a mistake. Those who may search the files of the newspapers of this year^ and the journals of the Assembly, will find his name in more than one place. He was a member of the committee on standing orders, and this was the only committee to which he was appointed. It is worth a passing remark, that there were then four McDonalds in the House, and his own name was spelt indiscriminately "Mc" and "Mac," then and for years afterwards. The first petition he presented was from Henry Smith, warden of he penitentiary at Kingston, asking for an increase of salary: and the second was on behalf of Bishop Phelan and others of the corporation of the College of Regiopolis at Kingston, asking for an act to enable them to hold real and personal property yielding an annual revenue of ^5000. Was there in the third petition the suggestion of a forecast of the National Policy? It was frcm Alexander Smith and others, cordwainers (boot and shoe rakes), asking.that a duty be put upon boots and shoes imported from the United States. The first motion he made in the House was on a question connected with the election of the Hon. George Moffatt and C. C. S. DeBleury, of Montreal, when he moved that the further consideration of the question be postponed till the nth January (it being then the 19th December), and his motion was carried by a majority of 1. He made several miscellaneous motions, was a member of more than one committee appointed to deal with specific questions, was chairman of a committee on the "Great Western Railroad Co.," and was chairman of the committee of the whole on more than one occasion. He also brought in three private bills, one relating to the Regiopolis College, one granting certain powers to the Upper Canada Trust & Loan Co., with which he was connected, and one for the divorce of a Captain Harris from his wife.
One of his motions was, "that Attorney General Smith and George Macdonnell be taken into the custody of the Sergeantat-Arms, for not attending the meeting of the Select Committee appointed to try the contested election for the third riding of York." The motion was carried, the offending members brought to the bar of the House, and on motion of John A. Macdonald were reprimanded and discharged. The circumstances which placed the young man in the position of mover of such an unusual motion are not stated, nor is it known how he came to be mover of a motion in which Mr. Aylwin was ordered to withdraw, after being "named" for refusing to take his seat, when speaking out of order.The session ran into January, 1845, a"d on the 15 th of that month, John A.'s good old friend and patron, John S. Cartwright, died. All the stores were closed in Kingston on the day of the funeral, and the members of the bar wore mourning for a month.
As the last moments of the session came on, and the work was over, the grave and reverend seigniors of the Assembly became boys again, and their mirth and frolic broke out in various ways. One usually sedate politician threw batches of bills at his political opponent; another pulled down the tin plate on which "Orders of the Day" were inscribed, and changed the inscription to "Orders of the Play," and then he fastened it to the back of a member, who was greeted with shouts of laughter; while some of them sat cheek-by-jowl like "bairns o' one mither," counting up the savings of the sessional allowance; others were flitting about the chamber with paper pig tails to their coats, etc., and of such a crowd John A. would be one of the liveliest.

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