Talk:John A. Macdonald

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sir john a. macdonald was born near glassglow at the brunswick place nt "in" glasglow

Do you have any evidence of this? If so, why not edit the article? HistoryBA 23:13, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Sir John Alexander Macdonald was born in the part of Glasgow now called the "Gorbals" in the eastern part of that section of the city on the south side of the River Clyde that was formerly called "Laurieston" near the tramway constructed for the Govan Colliery.

He was born on January 10 and not on the 11th as commemorated by legislation by the Liberal Government in 2002, "The Sir John A. Macdonald Act and the Sir Wilfred Laurier Act". His father, Hugh, recorded meticulous notes in a notebook that is the archives at Queen's University.

He was not born on Brunwick Place or Lane, a little sidestreet off the Trongate in the Merchant City part of Glasgow. That is where his father had a failing bandana business during the 1810-1820 period on occasion. (I have the detailed information from the Glasgow Post Office Directory of Businesses, if needed.)

Here is an article that I wrote for the Scottish Genealogical Society which was run in the Kingston Whig-Standard in January.

The Sir John A. birth mystery (Headline)

As any family historian or genealogist knows, accurate identification of a person rests on accessing his or her "BMD" -- birth, marriage and death records -- before attempting to create or verify a family tree. An error in judgment based on wrongly transcribed information or on a misinterpretation of written information can alter a person's link to what could be a long strand of ancestors. Finding information after 1855 in Scotland is much more simple than prior to the inauguration of statutory records. While old parish records are fairly reliable, there are omissions and incomplete records one has to contend with. That, and the variance in information stored, more often than not results in hours and hours of research to find and verify one minor piece of information.

That is what happened in a four-year pursuit of information to reveal and verify the precise birthplace of one of Canada's most famous politicians: Sir John A. Macdonald.

Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the first and third prime minister of Canada. He was in office from 1867 to 1873 and 1878 until his death on June 6, 1891 at his home, Earnscliffe, in Ottawa. His death is recorded in detail and at great length in the national newspaper, The Globe(now The Globe and Mail).

Sir John's two marriages are well recorded: firstly to Scottish-born Isabella Clark (a cousin through his mother's half-sister, Margaret Shaw, who married Alexander Clark of Dalnavert) on Sept. 1, 1843; and secondly, on Feb. 16, 1867, to Huguenot descendant and Jamaica-born Susan Agnes Bernard, a sister to Lt.-Col. Hewitt Bernard, a senior official in the office of the attorney general of Canada West when Sir John was its premier or first minister. Bernard sometimes shared the bachelor's quarters with Macdonald at the Quadrilateral in Ottawa. Bernard was executive secretary to the Quebec Conference in 1864 during the early days of attempts to confederate Canada.

But it is Sir John's actual birth-date and birthplace that have eluded discovery and verification. While many Scots have never heard of this Glaswegian-born lawyer and statesman, fewer still know that he was born in 1815 in their world-renowned city -- or so we have been led to believe by historians and others who have written about Canada's most famous politician. Populist writers -- including the writers of most Internet sources and encyclopedias -- cite Sir John's birthplace merely as Glasgow.

Among the most noted and esteemed biographers is Sir Joseph Pope, principal secretary to Sir John from 1882-1891, whose “Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, G.C.B.” only mentions Sir John's birth in a footnote on page three of Chapter 1, "Early Days", when he cites Macdonald's birth along with the births of three other siblings: Margaret, born July 7, 1813; John Alexander, born Jan. 11, 1815; James, born Oct. 17, 1816; and Louisa, born March 29, 1818.

These dates are taken from a memorandum book of Hugh Macdonald, who, not satisfied with recording the year and the day, marked down, in every case, the minute of his children's birth. Readers of the stars may be interested to know that Sir John Macdonald was born at a quarter-past four o'clock --whether a.m. or p.m. is not stated.

Hugh Macdonald (1782-1841), Sir John's father, was born near Pittentrail, Rogart Parish, Sutherland, and died in Kingston 21 years after taking his family to Canada. Another of Sir John A.'s siblings, William, was Hugh and his wife Helen's first-born in 1812 and died in 1813.

More contemporary biographers, including Donald Creighton, author of the twin set “John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician, The Old Chieftain” cite his birthdate and birthplace as Jan. 11, 1815 in Glasgow. Even some recognized historical writers, such as Donald Swainson in “John A. MacDonald -- The Man and the Politician”, only refer to his birthplace as Glasgow.

A contemporary of Swainson's was Lena Newman, compiler of the interesting “The John A. Macdonald Album”, who erroneously cites his birthplace as Brunswick Place, "across the Clyde River from Glasgow, in January 1815."

She notes that the General Registry Office in Edinburgh gives Jan. 10 as his birth-date. Macdonald's father entered his birth in a memo book as the 10th, but registered it the next day -- the day Canada honours his birth-date - Jan. 11. Again, the wrong birthplace is given, and Brunswick Place, or Brunswick Lane, is on the north side of the Clyde River in the area now called "Merchant City."

Even the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with what might seem to be deep pockets that can finance esoteric drama productions that much of the Canadian population fails to watch, could afford to send researchers to Glasgow in the 1960s armed with the technology of the day -- a Super 8-millimetre movie camera -- and produce a short feature on Brunswick Lane, which was purported to be Sir John's birthplace.

The archived footage, which is accessible via the Internet, reinforces the popularly held notion that Sir John was born at 22 Brunswick Lane, which was originally part of a three-storey structure jutting out into Brunswick Street between Trongate and Wilson streets.

Surviving in part from 1807 or earlier until the post-Second World War period, this nondescript, architecturally insignificant building housed merchants of various kinds during its 200-year-long life -- including Sir John's father's businesses between 1810 and 1816. Today, it stands derelict. It used to house a pub called the Fox and Hound and is reputed to have been, in its time, a massage parlour and a house of ill-repute.

Yet when a photograph of it is compared to a sketch of what is reputed to be the Macdonalds' home during that period, there are obvious differences that lend support to a select few authors' contention that Sir John was born on the south side of the River Clyde.

Anecdotal information to that effect has been recorded by a number of highly credible authors. However, it seems that the only writers who are more specific are those who knew him, as well as a few contemporary writers with academic or serious lay backgrounds.

On page 12 of Edgar B. Biggar's “Anecdotal Life of Sir John Macdonald(1891)”, one can read: "It was while they lived in one of a row of stone tenement houses near the (Laing) ferry landing, just across from Glasgow, on the Clyde, that John Alexander Macdonald was born." Biggar's book is based on information collected during Sir John's lifetime and from his relatives, mainly his sister-in-law, Maria Clark (Isabella's younger sister), who married John Alexander Macpherson. They were the parents of James Pennington Macpherson, Sir John's nephew and the author of the second most credible book on the eminent politician, “Life of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald” (1891).

In that book, Macpherson recounts, from talking with his mother, Maria: "During the time the Macdonalds were at Glasgow, five children were born -- William, Margaret, John, James, and Louisa, the first four on the opposite side of the Clyde from the city, the last in a house situated at Duke Street, a continuation of George Street."

Retired University of Edinburgh history professor Ged Martin, a specialist in Canadian studies, reveals in a lecture delivered at the University of Edinburgh in October 2004, and entitled "John A. Macdonald: Scotsman or Canadian?" that: "The Macdonalds lived in a residential area called Lauriestown, just across the narrow river, and it was here, in one of a row of stone tenement houses, that the future prime minister Macdonald was born. Unfortunately, the refined atmosphere of Lauriestown was disrupted by the construction of a colliery tramway. The middle classes began to leave for the comfortable districts on the west side of the city and eventually Macdonald's birthplace was engulfed in the terrible slums of the Gorbals. His own family had gone by 1818, but in their case, business was evidently not prospering, for they moved to Duke Street, in Glasgow's smoky east end."

Martin details young John A. Macdonald's life in Glasgow with additional anecdotes and has revealed, in other writings, two highly reputed sources that back his claim that the wily politician was born south of the Clyde River and not in Merchant City, above the shop operated by his father, Hugh, as part of the partnership Macdonald and Halket, dealers of bandanas in the cotton industry.

In his research, Martin cites two sources: Edgar B. Biggar and James Pennington Macpherson. Among the more current Canadian writers is Patricia Phenix, who wrote “Private Demons: The Tragic Personal Life of John A. Macdonald.” On page six of that book, she writes: "Soon after (Hugh and Helen Macdonald's marriage on Oct. 21, 1811), they moved into a tenement house near the ferry landing linking Laing to Glasgow ... Despite her age and the austerity of her living conditions, Helen gave birth to five children in rapid succession."

Although Phenix does not footnote her claim, undoubtedly it has been extracted from Biggar's 1891 account of Sir John's birth. Note, though, that she refers to a ferry landing linking Laing to Glasgow, which could put it on the north side, near the Glasgow Green.

The latest to join this group of "John A. Macdonald trackers" is the eminent Canadian author and journalist Richard Gwyn, who is better known for his writing on military matters. In his book “John A.: The Man Who Made Us” (2007), Gwyn notes in Chapter One that "where John A. Macdonald was born and when he was born are unknown. Or rather, not known exactly."

Gwyn places the birth in Glasgow and notes that the commemoration of Sir John's birth may be on the wrong day -- Jan. 11 -- rather than the day that is cited in the General Registry Office in Edinburgh (extracted from the Glasgow official parish record, which states he was born on Jan. 10, 1815.) Gwyn acknowledges that Hugh Macdonald, John's father, made the entry in his memorandum book, as Hugh was known to be a meticulous note-taker.

But then Gwyn speculates on the location of Sir John's birth, and in conducting his research from secondary sources he made an error: "The delivery may have taken place at 29 Ingram Street in Glasgow or, not far away, at 18 Brunswick Street, both on the south side of the Clyde River, because the family moved between these locations around the time of his birth."

Gwyn has both properties mislocated. They are both on the north side of the Clyde. Gwyn is, perhaps, identifying Hugh's places of employment or where he carried out his trade (selling bandanas) as the place of young John's birth. He cites one possibility as 29 Ingram St., a tenement building on the east side of the city core near High Street that included a fire station on the ground floor. It now houses a restaurant, bar and grill.

And he does consider 18 Brunswick St. as an alternative birthplace -- though again placing it on the south side of the Clyde River; it is not there. It is located in what is now called Merchant City and runs perpendicularly into Trongate -- the easterly extension of Argyll Street, a main east-west thoroughfare and shopping area in the heart of Glasgow.

Brunswick Street runs south from Ingram Street in the north one block past Hutcheson Hall to Wilson Street. It narrows a half-block later, becoming Brunswick Lane, and opens onto Argyll Street. Both of these locations were places where Hugh Macdonald ran businesses.

While many authors cite Sir John's birth-date as Jan. 11, 1815, the official parish records show otherwise. Sir John A. Macdonald's birth is noted in the official parish records for the City of Glasgow in the month of January, 1815 on Roll 644/21, Page 198, Entry No. 7. It cites his birth-date as Jan. 10, 1815. He is reputed to have been born late in the day. (Sir Joseph Pope noted that it was a quarter past four o'clock, a fact Gwyn recorded correctly; however, it is not known whether it was in the wee hours of the morning or in the afternoon.)

As Pope's account implies, Sir John's father, Hugh, despite lacking qualities that he could have inherited from his own father -- John Macdonald, the Merchant Macdonald of Rogart and Dornoch -- had one redeeming quality: He maintained fastidious records. He is reputed to have noted the birth of each of his five children and many other significant events in his and their lives.

Did Hugh record his son John's birth the following day at a church near his place of employment in 1815? From 1813 to 1815, he was working with his partner at 22 Brunswick Place, and moved at some point to 4 Virginia St. -- the current site of the Marks and Spencer store on Argyll Street. The Glasgow Post Office Directory of the day notes a Hugh Macdonald, agent, at 29 Ingram St., next to a fire station that is now a pub and restaurant.

While we know where Hugh worked, we are still trying to verify his places of residence and the birthplaces of his children, especially John Alexander.

Was Sir John A. Macdonald born in Laurieston -- as Biggar, Macpherson and Phenix imply -- or was Canada's foremost politician born in a flat above his father's business at 22 Brunswick Place? The Post Office directory of the day shows that Hugh was working at either 29 Ingram St. or 4 Virginia St. between 1814 and 1816, but also at 22 Brunswick Place between 1813 and 1815. When did he move from one to the other?

Retired United Nations consultant William Machin has extracted official parish records for all five of the Macdonald children in his quest to tie his ancestry to Sir John's uncle (and Hugh's brother) Alexander. All five children were registered in Tradeston, which is part of the Gorbals on the south side of the River Clyde. Official parish record entries, anecdotal information, research by noted authors, post office directory listings -- how do we really determine where Sir John Alexander Macdonald was born? And, when we do, what significance will that fact be, and to whom? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kekenoumahgawaninni (talkcontribs) 21:06, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Spelling of Name[edit]

Is there some reason that JAD's name is rendered here as Macdonald rather than as MacDonald?

No reason other than that's how he and his family spelled the name. Some Macdonalds are Macdonalds and some MacDonalds are MacDonalds. There is no rule except family tradition, and it should be respected. Indefatigable 01:29, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I'm doing a project why did he want confederation thanks

The spelling of a Scottish name is - if English is used - the Anglocisation of an oral language - Gaelic.

MacDonald in Scots Gaelic is "Mac Dhom nuill" meaning world ruler.

If you are trying to pronounce it, the "Dh" is "kuh" sound; so Mac Dhom nuill is Mac Con nuel.

It doesn't matter how you spell it in English, other than family preference and for legal purposes.

What is more important is how you say it.

The name Macdonald as oppossed to MacDonald denotes descent from the clan chief.

broken code?[edit]

There seems to be some buggy code in the article; look at the bottom. Can anybody look at it or fix it?--Sonjaaa 07:48, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Macdonald was not the longest serving Prime Minister. William Lyon Mackenzie King was. RIGHT - KEKENOUMAHGAHWANINNI

What colour was his hair? BLACK - KEKENOUMAHGAHWANINNI

Real Birthday[edit]

  • What time of day was Sir John born? Standard Time was adopted by the British Empire during his lifetime. The adoption of standard time changed the legal start of the day from 3:00 am to midnight. If Sir John was born between midnight and 2:59 am on what we now call 11 January, the date would legally have been 10 January in 1815. Similarly, George Washington's baptismal certificate says he was born on 11 February 1731. So why do the history books say 22 February 1732? Because George Washington was born before the British Empire changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. At the time he was born, New Year's Day was still 25 March. Effective 1752, New Year's Day was moved to 1 January; and the rest of the calendar was adjusted by 11 days that September. People who were still alive at the time changed their dates of birth to reflect the change of calendar. Thus, George Washington's birthday was retroactively changed from 11 February 1731 (Julian Calendar) to 22 February 1732 (Gregorian Calendar). So, before any change is made to Sir John's DOB, more research is needed in case he, too, may have retroactively "corrected" the date of his birth to reflect the adoption of Standard Time during his lifetime. Or it's also possible that the person who recorded his date of birth mistakenly wrote 10 January instead of 11 January.

2601:645:C300:42D0:10D7:CA78:6E6E:6A11 (talk) 02:09, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Should we not have his birthday listed as his real birthday January 10 and not the day he celebrated it? SFrank85 02:23, 28 January 2006 (UTC)





terrific poster! Rjensen 03:37, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Thank you...I saw it in a history book a while back, and recently found it also answers another question above. :)Habsfannova 03:41, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

What was John A. Macdonald's first language and religion?[edit]

  • His first language was Scots, his second language was Gaelic (pronounced "Gallic" when referring to the language spoken in Scotland, though the people who actually speak 'Gaidhlig' pronounce it "Gahlik"). He daedna spak Inglis but kenned what it meant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:645:C300:42D0:10D7:CA78:6E6E:6A11 (talk) 02:12, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Creighton John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician. p 11: "his accent and mode of speech were formed in a family and among relatives where broad Scots was continually spoken. But he was only five and a half years old when he was brought to Canada; and he grew up a typical Midland District boy, with the expressions and turns of phrase which were characteristic of the region p 17 "the sober Presbyterians were to show themselves ready to criticize and reject the leadership of the Anglican Loyalists who up to that time had run the province and the town. pp 74-76 he makes an early mark as champion of Presbyterian cause locally Rjensen 03:55, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

This is hardly unequivocal. Reverting. TrulyTory 14:30, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
As far as anyone knows, he spoke Scots Gaelic, but I don't know if it was his first or second language.



Hell can scorch a feather[edit]

A common saying in those days. Source is: "At sixty-three he leaped from the government benches at the opposition, shouting, "I can lick you quicker than hell can scorch a feather!" and was with difficulty restrained from doing it." in The Struggle for the Border by Bruce Hutchison - 1955 pp 328-9 Rjensen 18:21, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, Rjensen. HistoryBA 23:11, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

O'Connor stuff from Oct 10[edit]

Macdonald's younger half-brother, Angus O'Connor, was a respected sports promoter/trainer of amateur athletes during the late 1800s. O'Connor's son "Jumpin" Joe O'Connor was a heavy-weight boxing champion in the British Commonwealth. (see Kangaroos and Humans). While young O'Connor was in Australia, as Commonwealth champion, he challenged all-comers; and the challenge was accepted by French-Canadian Strong-man Louis Cyr.

It has to be a hoax because whoever wrote it in goofed by saying the "British Commonwealth" instead of the "British Empire". "Commonwealth" was not used until the 1940s/1950s. GBC 22:38, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

I see there is a similar paragraph in the Louis Cyr article. Even if it's true, I think it's too trivial to include even in a "Trivia" section. I'll wait 24 h, and if there are no objections I'll delete the item. Indefatigable 18:20, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

ANGUS WAS IN NO WAY RELATED TO SIR JOHN. WHERE DID YOU GET THAT RUMOUR OR FALSE PIECE OF INFORMATION? - KEEKNOUMAHGAHWANINNI —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kekenoumahgawaninni (talkcontribs) 21:20, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Goals and Beliefs[edit]

What were John. A. Macdonald's goals and beliefs? They are not actually included in this article.456 20:02, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

I believe Mr. Macdonald's goals were for a Canada dominated by the Protestant English. According to a number of books on the period, including Maggie Siggin's vibrant biography of Louis Riel, Macdonald can only be described as a manipulative political animal with a deep undercurrent of racism (for e.g., he scorned the "impulsive half-breeds" [Macdonald's word] in putting together policy that would render Metis in the Red River valley disenfranchised and impoverished).


Was his name actually John or was it Johnathan?

JOHN - WHICH IS THE ANGLOCISED VERSION OF THE SCOTS GAELIC "IAN" OR "IAIN" - KEKENOUMAHGAHWAHNINNI —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kekenoumahgawaninni (talkcontribs) 21:22, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Family Confusion[edit]

It says within the article that John's father married his mother. This really should be reworded; to me it sounds as if John's father married his own mother. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:34, 17 January 2008 (UTC)


From where did he receive his LL.D. to practice law? NorthernThunder 02:26, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

That's an honourary degree. MacDonald's was from Cambridge in the UK. MacDonald actually didn't have an LL.B which is what you'd need to practice in Ontario today. Back then one could practice law from an [[|Articled clerk|apprenticeship]] alone. --JGGardiner 07:49, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

A-class or not[edit]

I've quick-failed this article for A-class, as it contains no in-line citations at all. Once this is fixed, please feel free to submit this article for an A-class review. Errabee 13:51, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, I've spotted one Harvard-style (not my favourite, but allowed). Plus the trivia section must be incorporated in the prose. Errabee 13:53, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

The Jamaica[edit]

There is a single sentence article about Macdonald's private rail car. I've nominated it for deletion if anyone is interested. It is currently mentioned in the trivia section here. --JGGardiner 21:09, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Copyright violation[edit]

From the article:

Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his alcoholism. He is known to have been drunk for many of his debates in parliament. Two apocryphal stories are commonly repeated; the first describing an election debate in which Macdonald was so drunk he began vomiting while on stage. ...


Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his alcoholism. He is known to have been drunk for many of his debates in parliament. One famous story is that during an election debate Macdonald was so drunk he began vomiting violently on stage while his opponent was speaking. Picking himself up Macdonald told the crowd, "see how my opponent's ideas disgust me." In another version of the story, he responded to his opponent's query of his drunkenness with "It goes to show that I would rather have a drunk Conservative than a sober Liberal."

Obvious copyright violation. This text was not GFDL'd. -- 03:57, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

  • The section in question contains the following disclaimer:

[This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Sir John A. Macdonald .]

—, on the section in question
I think, therefor, that there's no problem. WilyD 04:06, 11 August 2007 (UTC)


Should mention knighting in order. --Daniel C. Boyer 18:01, 2 September 2007 (UTC)


Interesting to see the continuing war over Macdonald's date of birth. The footnote which cites historian Waite, explains the controversy. Seems to me --- and I'm only guessing --- that the January 11 date is probably the correct one. Macdonald's father recorded January 11 in his memorandum book. It's also the date that Macdonald himself celebrated and according to biographer Richard Gywn, January 11 is the day of "the joyous celebratory dinner staged each year in Kingston, Ontario." Gwyn also notes that January 11 appears on all the plaques and statues that honour Sir John. Bwark (talk) 17:34, 21 December 2007 (UTC)






JOHN A MACDONALD WAS GAY!!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bren9182 (talkcontribs) 13:58, 17 April 2008 (UTC) Also he had a duaghter name kadeesha from his wife arangi in the year of , 1846-->


Major revisions make this a much weaker article[edit]

For some reason, someone has eliminated the sections on Macdonald's early life and early career, the effect of the rebellions of 1837 and the section on his personal life. Even the bibliography section has been tampered with, eliminating significant books on Macdonald. I spent hours editing this article, but all my contributions are gone. Too bad. Canada's first prime minister deserves a better entry than this mishmash. Bwark (talk) 21:05, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

I reverted here but noticed that there was more vandalism remaining, notice the links to Peru? With my next edit instead of cleaning out the vandalism I ended up cutting the article in half but I have no idea why. I've reverted to 14 May as that looks like the last good version. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 20:46, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Interesting, look at this from the 21 May 2007. Somehow that's the version I reverted to. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 20:51, 24 May 2008 (UTC)


Rebellions of 1837[edit]

I suggest omitting this paragraph:

"It was surely wisdom to have nothing to do with the whole affair. And yet, he took the case. Even he might have found it difficult to say why. A curious interest in people, a relish for cases which were odd and difficult, a jaunty recognition of the fact that professional prestige involved publicity, and, perhaps, a certain stubborn, independent conviction that these helpless and deluded men deserved at least the bare minimum of assistance – all these may have helped to move him to his decision."

It seems to me to be unencyclopedic speculation. (talk) 00:01, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Too Much Creighton[edit]

Biographer Donald Creighton's name appears a dozen times in the body text. Is there any chance of cutting this down, and if possible referring to a broader array of sources? (talk) 03:38, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

So far, Creighton's two-volume biography is the definitive work on John A. Macdonald. However, many other historians are cited along with Richard Gwyn's recent biography. If you can cut down the Creighton citations, be my guest. Bwark (talk) 18:01, 29 July 2008 (UTC)



IF YOU WANT ACCURACY - I AM YOUR MAN. - KEKENOUHMAHGAHWANINNI —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kekenoumahgawaninni (talkcontribs) 21:34, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Sections on early life and personal life[edit]

I can't understand why these sections were deleted. Obviously Macdonald is a major figure in Canadian history and information on his early life and personal life is needed in any biography. I have restored these sections. Bwark (talk) 18:01, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

BWARK, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT HIS EARLY LIFE OR HIS PERSONAL LIFE. - KEKENOUHMAHGAHWANINNI —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kekenoumahgawaninni (talkcontribs) 21:45, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Semi-protection urgently needed for Macdonald entry[edit]

I have just restored sections on Macdonald's law career and his political rise that someone deleted. Such vandalism is a chronic problem with this entry. It deserves indefinite semi-protection under Wikipedia guidelines which state: "Semi-protection prevents edits from anonymous users (IP addresses), as well as edits from accounts that are not autoconfirmed. Administrators may apply indefinite semi-protection to pages that are: Subject to heavy and persistent vandalism." The Macdonald entry is persistently vandalized. Bwark (talk) 23:16, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Once again, I have restored sections on early life, professional law career and political rise that were deleted without any discussion. Bwark (talk) 14:16, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Reference in Early years, 1815–1830[edit]

I am not familiar with this article, however could someone look at the references in "Early years, 1815–1830". Seth Whales (talk) 19:22, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Hey all, I don't know how to edit Wikipedia but I hope someone sees this and reverts some of the right column of the page, which states some obviously incorrect facts concerning his association with PETA and Ronald McDonald. Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:27, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

"Much of present-day Canada remained outside Confederation—in addition to the two remaining Maritime colonies and British Columbia, vast areas in the north and west belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company." This is incorrect, as the Maritime's is composed of three provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were two of the first four provinces in Canada leaving only one Maritime Province outside of Confederation. The correct term is the Atlantic Provinces which also include Newfoundland which did not join Canada until 1949. See article on Canadian Maritimes for more information: or check out their source:


I believe that this article relies too much on the Creighton volumes. There are other good sources that could even out the approach to covering certain periods of Macdonald's life. Also there appears to be a "protective" element that discourages edits. Let Wikipedians edit unless they are adding nonsense. No one "owns" this, or any other article. While this is a very good article as it stands right now; let it grow!Stormbay (talk) 02:29, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

In terms of complete, scholarly bios, Creighton's been pretty much it to date, though certainly various aspects of Macdonald's life are well studied. However, the concluding volume of Gwyn's bio is out the end of September, and that should help. I'll take your advice to heart, but some editorial standards need to be maintained to keep this at FA status.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:33, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
I haven't seen any evidence of WP:OWN with respect to this article at all. --Skeezix1000 (talk) 11:42, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
I guess maintaining FA status looks like WP:OWN to me at times on this article. It is a good article and one that needs to be kept in good shape, that I don't deny. An entry of mine was reverted rather than being incorporated and it had validity in the article. I'm not sure that the person would have made it back into the article had I not pushed it. Hence my comment about accepting a new view, new material when it appears to have been placed in good faith and has reasonable sources. Otherwise, guardianship becomes de facto ownership. Thanks for the interest in my comments.Stormbay (talk) 18:01, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
No, what it is is a sheer volume of edits that I go through for articles on my watchlist, I can make mistakes in judging whether an edit is helpful. The error rate is nonzero, but is not that far above. Yes, I could cut my watchlists, but I don't see anyone doing the checks if I don't. These things happen, and we worked it out appropriately. That's the way things work.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:25, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the explanation. After 6 years editing here I have some idea how things work as well. I might suggest cutting your watch list if it becomes a problem. Let some of it go and have more enjoyment out of the rest. Cheers! --Stormbay (talk) 15:32, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
No one is more equal than others. However, if you write the article, you tend to be better equipped with information and arguments. That information lack is easily cured by other editors, who are free to read the sources.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:47, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
Well; someone was obviously more equal than me regarding the Hewitt Bernard entry in April. It deserved more than 5 minutes before being reverted. It could be sourced easily and moved to an appropriate spot. I am just making a point. Obviously the intent was to maintain the FA argument there! Some legitimate historians argue that Bernard should be included as one of the "Fathers of Confederation". I think that may be a stretch but he was heavily involved with John A. and Canadian Confederation during the run-up to 1867 and the period following. I have been editing here long enough to develop a thick skin but also long enough to speak up when the way "things work" deviates from the way "things should work". Stormbay (talk) 17:27, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
If you had been as quick to add referencing to the article as you were text, you would have gotten much less short shrift.[ Just a thought.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:54, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
I could have used more than 5 minutes, in any case. (I never intended or this to become argumentative.) I respect the work that you do on the FAs and elsewhere. Every legitimate editor on Wikipedia should expect the same. I have pointed out what I perceived to be a potential problem with a quick revert carried out without due diligence. (my opinion). I accept that you do not agree that the revert was inappropriate. Let's leave it there. Happy editing!--Stormbay (talk) 21:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
I feel WP:OWN is still an issue on this article. Take a look at the history of this article. Stormbay (talk) 02:48, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Woodgasstrains's edits[edit]

I'm becoming increasingly concerned by the editor's refusal to engage here and also reliance on low-quality websites, such as one on Windsor (!)'s Scottish heritage. I'm afraid that unless he starts engaging here, I will have to ask for some outside intervention.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:40, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Agree with your assessment - and have reverted the additions referances to this personal website and have reverted all the numbers that were changes to numbers rather then letters. An FA article is not the best place to learn about wikiways, as there will generally be some conflict due to lack of FA and MOS requirements. That said if the editor engages us here perhaps we can find a better ref and simply explain that numbers should be written out for certain things. Moxy (talk) 03:26, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Whaaat??? Numbers are typically written out as words for one to nine, 10+ as numerals. FWiW, the issues are not technical or semantics; the style is already established, work within it. Bzuk (talk) 04:20, 19 July 2011 (UTC).
O well to late i guess....Yes words for one to nine, 10+ as numerals - but as you say its the set style and is why (those edits in conjunction with the website addition) was reverted as per Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Numbers "Render numbers greater than nine as figures or, with consistency within each article and WP:SELFPUBLISH "For that reason, self-published media, such as books, patents, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, personal or group blogs, Internet forum postings, and tweets, are largely not acceptable as sources. ".Moxy (talk) 04:39, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Check with the primary editor and you will see that we have been actually working together; having an arbitrary reversion was not conducive to trying to work out some issues with a newbie. I do prefer to "go gently in the night" and look at new edits before doing any large-scale revisions. Give W an email and he will confirm that we have built a working relationship on article development. FWiW, Bzuk (talk) 04:47, 19 July 2011 (UTC).
I do not understand any of what you have just said. Your doing what to whom? Are you saying you help write this and think its a good site?Moxy (talk) 04:51, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Simple terms: Wehralt and I are working together to improve and develop the article. A new editor has introduced revisions that, in some cases, were useful additions, while others were merely "author's choice" edits that did not always further the development of the article. I tend to involve myself with the technical aspects of editing as a former reference librarian and editor of a magazine; Wehralt concentrates on research and context, as an interested observer of the historic Canadian political scene, despite his American origin. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 05:01, 19 July 2011 (UTC).
Still at a lost at what your talking about, why are you giving me your resume? - Yes you have done a good job with Wehralt no one said otherwise. You are aware we are reverting the same person (I removed the useless ref and added one that you fixed for me). I did not remove any edit you or Wehwalt have done - have I? maybe I am in the wrong here did I remove the wrong edit? Is this site good?Moxy (talk) 05:19, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Reverting wholesale to an earlier version was not needed; the edits were gradually being worked out with the new editor. However, thanx for your help. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 05:25, 19 July 2011 (UTC).
O i see what your saying - and no the edits were not good and were reverted - addition of run on sentences, changes date of when we celebrate his birthday, addition of a bad ref, removing dates from templates. Moxy (talk) 05:38, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I appreciate both of your efforts; I've been trying to take the gentle approach with this new editor. Yes, Bzuk has been extremely helpful on the micro angle (and some macro!) on this article and others, he helps save me from falling as I walk with my eyes in the sky. Ideally, I'd like to engage with the new guy, he did catch a mistake.--Wehwalt (talk) 07:18, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

We need to redo the sentence in the lead as its sounds and looks odd. "Statues to Macdonald have been raised across Canada; he appears on stamps and on the current Canadian ten-dollar bill." Do we need to mention the ten-dollar bill when it is mentioned in the exact same way bellow in the body of the text. A better way of saying this would be = "Many statues and designations have been created in recognition of Macdonald contribution to the nation".Moxy (talk) 20:30, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Honestly, I'd rather scrap the whole sentence. I appreciate that Woodgastrains is acting in good faith, but I can't just revert him, you know. I'm doing the best I can, as is Bzuk. If Woodgastrains would enter into a conversation, it would be a good thing.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:51, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree it should be removed (and is why I did so) but it was replaced again - so though I would bring it up again - yes removal is better then my suggestion. Not sure that leaving bad addition or reinstating them is a good idea. I do like the fact your trying to be nice to the new guy - but the article is more of a concern then being nice at the determent of the article. Has this new editor responded to your post on his/her page? Moxy (talk) 20:58, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
No, but as a practical matter, what am I supposed to do? I'm involved, so I can't block him. He is editing badly, but that is not actually against the rules. He's probably broken 3RR, but I'm hesitant to go down that road and it only postpones things 24 hours. It grieves me the article is taking a hit, but that can be repaired. Ideas?--Wehwalt (talk) 21:36, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
We need him to come to this talk page (could you try directing him here from his talk page again) - his last edit was a copy and past from here that is a clear copyright violation. Moxy (talk) 22:12, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Do readers after reading article think MacDonald was a drunk? Please post all drinking entries in article.[edit]

He was famous for being a drunk. Yet this is lacking in the featured article. Vote to disclose directly he was drunk in intro. Let's post all drinking references in article to access the readers ability to see this. --Woodgastrains (talk) 22:33, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

1)Parliamentary advancement, 1843–1857 "Macdonald began to drink heavily around this time, both in public and in private, which Patricia Phenix, who studied Macdonald's private life, attributes to his family troubles" 2)Political cartoon picture. "Whither are we drifting?" Macdonald is shown triumphant at obtaining a prorogation, but is depicted trampling a weeping Canada and apparently drunk with bottle in pocket."--Woodgastrains (talk) 22:39, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for talking to us, and i bid you welcome. Did you look under 1862, Macdonald's drinking caused his government to fall, and in 1866, he offended the Maritimers by being late to the London Conference? It is in there. It is not necessary to mention it every minute.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:43, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Also, Macdonald drinking glass after glass of gin and water as he spoke on the Pacific Scandal?--Wehwalt (talk) 22:55, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
I would suggest that the article adequately covers Macdonald's drinking, and that Woodgastrain's edit is not needed (also a bare reference is not favoured in FAs).--Wehwalt (talk) 22:58, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Didn't see that one. "As he spoke, he consumed glass after glass of gin and water. He denied that there had been a corrupt bargain, and stated that such contributions were common to both political parties." Still only an indirect reference. Would like to change that he fell asleep to the passed out (obviously not going change this as no reference to support this) "In January 1867, while still in London, he was seriously burned in his hotel room when his candle set fire to the chair he had fallen asleep in." MacDonald was most likely drunk caused the fire. --Woodgastrains (talk) 23:41, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

I had to go ahead an remove this as it was a copyright violation - we are not allowed to simply copy and past from websites here. Please read over Wikipedia:Cv101.
Woodgastrains, can you understand that both Bzuk and I are good writers and we've managed to get it to the top level articles here. Neither one of us is a hostile person, as you can probably see from the discussions about your edits. It would be best if you discussed changes to the articles before you made it. Your writings are not in the same style as the article, and you are not following the same referencing practices. You are new to the wiki, perhaps you could start on another article and then return to featured articles once you've been around the block a time or two?--Wehwalt (talk) 01:29, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
What can we do here?- Hes keeps changing the birth date and keeps adding info we have already said in a better way above (let alone all the copy and pasting copy vios I keep removing). Not sure the person is actually reading the article or its references before adding stuff that is clear hes not sure of.Moxy (talk) 18:26, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
If AN/I yields no results, I'll ask an admin who I respect but haven't dealt with very much to look at the situation. Perhaps User:Beeblebrox.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:30, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Drinking quote "As prime minister, Mackenzie created the Supreme Court of Canada, something Macdonald viewed as a threat to Canada's ties with Britain. According to Mackenzie historian Ben Forster, Mackenzie had a fundamental disdain for Macdonald's personal failings. "Mackenzie was highly moralistic," Forster said. "He was a teetotaller for the most part. He found it really appalling to see people drunk in the House of Commons and Macdonald was drunk more than once in the House of Commons." --Woodgastrains (talk) 21:27, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Quote, "Beware of users so in love with their own virtue, that they are incapable of recognizing when it has become vice; and so in love with their own eloquence, that they can not see when it has become hypocrisy. The former are those who never admit to any wrong, but yet demand apologies from others for the lapses of judgement to which all human beings are prone; and the latter are the blindest and most intractable of POV-pushers. Skill with words correlates neither with virtue nor wisdom." Excellently written, I like that. John a Macdonald had his vices and he was born on jan 10, not jan11.--Woodgastrains (talk) 21:45, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Woodgastrains, the article mentions Macdonald's drinking at least four times. The reader knows that this was an ongoing issue for him, although after 1878 it seems to have gone away (the man was getting on in years by then). I find that calm, dispassionate, neutral prose is what is wanted on Wikipedia most of the time and it advantages no one to put in an article the equivalent of "Ha ha, John A.'s a drunk."--Wehwalt (talk) 23:03, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
Here's a suggestion which will not mean a sub-article but would include a passage as a note that links to the first instance of his drinking. It was suggested in contemporary reports that his drinking intensified with his first wife's death. However, and a great big, however, although John A. was a "drinkin' man", he was not universally thought of as a raging drunk. The gin in the water container story was probably spurious and John As drinking was tolerable in a bygone age. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 00:45, 21 July 2011 (UTC),
I have removed the copy and past drunk comment from the lead and have cleanup other edits. Not sure why we need to mention this 20 times in the article at all. Now about this line that keeps being added back "In 1836 Macdonald received his barrister at law diploma from Osgoode Hall, the Law Society of Upper Canada" -
We talk about all this in better manner as we say "Macdonald travelled by steamboat to Toronto (known until 1834 as York), where he passed an examination set by the Law Society of Upper Canada, including mathematics, Latin, and history" (He was done school in 1829 ). T we say "he was called to the Bar in February 1836" Being called to the bar is saying the same as "received his barrister at law diploma from Osgoode Hall" There was only the Law Society of Upper Canada at this point so its implied no need to say the same thing 2 times in a row is there?Moxy (talk) 03:43, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

He was not a drunk by the standards of the period. He did go on binges though, such as the death of his mother in law. He was not prone to always being drunk though. He had good periods and bad periods. The definition for drunkard is: A person who is habitually drunk. He was an occassionally drunk, not habitually, his daily routine did not revolve around waking up getting wasted and going to sleep. Boris Yeltsin would be far easier characterized as a drunkard. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:32, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean by "by the standards of the period" then as now public inebriation was frowned upon. Many original sources reliably note John A.'s heavy drinking, so the fact that he was an alcoholic cannot be easily dismissed. Most alcoholics do not end up sleeping in dumpsters, but that does not mean their lives are not messed up by their drinking. Mediatech492 (talk) 04:32, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

Vancouver Island and Canadian Confederation[edit]

Wish from article: Mention Canada wanted Vancouver Island not just British Columbia. Mention colony of Vancouver Island uniting with the colony of British Columbia in 1866, basically it was the same time of Canadian Confederation. Mention that MacDonald chose a fellow politician, a member of the BC legislature to build island railroad, which arose allegations of corruption. Mention British Columbia seperation gestures and that the queen was asked to make a decision whether Canada owed Victoria a functioning Vancouver Island railway in perpetuity for joining Confederation. The article's sub themes are Confederation and building of the railroad out west and crooks, and this is what this is. Part of the story of John a Macdonald's legacy.

No wish to change anything else in article. The John A MacDonald work is well written and rich in facts. Good luck with your baby. Good luck with the next contributor. Moving on to other articles --Woodgastrains (talk) 00:51, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for your thoughts. I'll read it over carefully, and when the second volume of Gwyn's bio comes out in two months, see what he has to say about that. It was mostly Cartier who negotiated with BC though. The thing is, we are dealing with a politician who had a political life of almost 50 years, and we have less than 100K in text in which to do it. Doing that smoothly is the real trick to article writing. Good luck in your endeavours.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:40, 21 July 2011 (UTC).
I've gone through the article and been selective about Woodgastrains' edits, keeping some, deleting others. I think the article is stronger. Let's let it sit for a while and see what the public thinks.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:11, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Mission accomplished. Done editting this page. Goodluck again, and keep up the good work. Over and out.--Woodgastrains (talk) 07:04, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

I've had to delete it. While I can justify Macdonald hitting the last spike of the Vancouver Island railway, the story of that railway is not important in a survey article about Macdonald. No one cared, or cares about the railway outside BC. The last spike is more than enough information; it shows the railway was completed. End of story. This was a concern for the most part of the Mackenzie government.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:29, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

Passage for discussion[edit]

Moved here for now: Macdonald in the House of Commons in 1881 gave a speech on the CPR and critized Alexander Mackenzie for tinkering with the preconditions of British Columbia and Vancouver Island uniting with Canada.[1] The old chieftain said, "Both the Government of which I was the head and the Government of which he was the head were bound by the original resolutions." Macdonald said,"It was admitted that it was a sacred obligation; it was admitted that there was a treaty made with British Columbia, with the people and the Government of British Columbia, and not only was it an agreement and a solemn bargain made between Canada and British Columbia, but it was formally sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government. It was a matter of Colonial policy and Imperial policy in England that the road should be constructed."[2] "

Explain why any of this section needs to be in the article; it appears to be an extremely peripheral issue, and merely a debating point in parliament at the time. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 18:23, 22 July 2011 (UTC).

And there was an election coming up, with the railway, as usual, the big issue. I agree with Bzuk. Woodgastrains, it would do everyone good if you posted your proposed changes on talk and let us discuss them.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:39, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

Zero, that's how many times the article mentions Vancouver Island. The articles long, long, long list of research references though excellent in academics, is not quality for wiki cause like if it ain't a button away it ain't referenced, need web links (branches) enrich the experience. Links are not only to prove facts, also add colour. The two passage reference links are fine, wiki allows the removal of info in references fail standards. Is there a complaint about the references or is anything false etc, if not... I'm a fan of the article too, only helping it. Plus as already made clear, am done with editting this article as mission accomplished. Hardly think that solemn bargain of Canadian Confederation is an extreme periperal issue for the father of confederation being a man of honour, and making sure his promises were honoured. It meant alot to macdonald to participate in the last spike on Vancouver Island. Sir Johnny A would like this passage, would he not? It makes macdonald a hero to westerns. Reposting passage. And what's wrong with the Alexander Mackenzie link, article should link to the prime minister of time in macdonald's term in opposition. --Woodgastrains (talk) 19:40, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

This does seem to be only one of many issues around Confederation and does not even create a ripple compared to the troubles in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. As to the references, these are typical of what wiki calls "bare urls" and do not provide the requisite: author, title, publisher, date information. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 20:09, 22 July 2011 (UTC). As to the question of a link to Alexander Mackenzie, repeated wikilinks are not necessary and not recommended as the first instance is what the reader should see and is the link needed. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 20:10, 22 July 2011 (UTC).

The three revert rule. Have no changed the other edits, only this last edit back, let's not be restricting the article. The reader benefits with a link to sir john speaking. The other reference is a published book, lower quality then your books but it lists the Carnarvon Terms points (not of wiki yet). Quote," In 1879 Governor General Dufferin arriving in Victoria had to take an alternate route rather than pass below an arch across the main street that bore a banner reading "Carnarvon Terms or Separation" Did not mention the carnarvon terms in passage, but this is the sub text. As for the Alexander Mackenzie link, I was wrong you don't edit that back, so you too thought that the section of macdonald's opposition should include a button to the pm alexander mackenzie also, improved the article a tiny, tiny bit.--Woodgastrains (talk) 20:54, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

This is my "take" on this passage:

In 1881, Macdonald, in opposition, gave a speech the House of Commons on the CPR and criticized Alexander Mackenzie for tinkering with the preconditions of British Columbia and Vancouver Island uniting with Canada. In part, he said, "...there was a treaty made with British Columbia, with the people and the Government of British Columbia, and not only was it an agreement and a solemn bargain made between Canada and British Columbia, but it was formally sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government."[3] FWiW, IMHO, this is a long, very meandering and ultimately non-consequential speech, which is only tangential to the story of Macdonald. Bzuk (talk) 21:11, 22 July 2011 (UTC).

As I understand it, both Bzuk and I oppose adding this passage, while Woodgastrains favores it. Therefore, there is no consensus as far as I can see for adding this edit. Is there anyone else who has an opinion on this issue?--Wehwalt (talk) 20:16, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
I have also revert this edit .Moxy (talk) 22:04, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
To be exact, I have offered a more tightly edited revision, but as my earlier comments indicated, the passage was not deemed essential and I could live without it in the article. FWiW, I read the entire 1891 Macdonald speech, and I won't get that hour in my life back... Bzuk (talk) 21:20, 24 July 2011 (UTC).
I could live, then, with one sentence that did not use a direct quotation, just the fact that he used the issue to beat up the Liberals with.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:36, 24 July 2011 (UTC)


Birthdate redux[edit]

Our footnote says: Although 10 January is the official date recorded in the General Register Office in Edinburgh, 11 January is the day Macdonald and those who commemorate him have celebrated his birthday.

Isn't this a case of everyone saying "let's pretend"? It seems nobody's disputing he actually was born on 10 January, but it's become traditional to celebrate it on 11 January. It's also become traditional to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's birthday on various dates in various places, none of which is her actual birthday, 21 April, which nobody disputes. Just because we celebrate Macdonald's b/day on 11 January, that's not the same as asserting or believing he was actually born on 11 January. We show dates of birth in our ledes, not dates on which births are celebrated.

What I'd like to see is the birthdate become 10 January in the lede and the infobox, and the footnote become:

  • Although 11 January is the day Macdonald and those who commemorate him have celebrated his birthday, 10 January is the official date recorded in the General Register Office in Edinburgh. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 10:23, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Gwyn, Volume 1, page 8 "Throughout his life and for the near century and a quarter that have followed his death, his birthday has been commemorated as January 11, 1815—as in the joyous celebratory dinner staged each year in Kingston, Ontario, and in the inscriptions on all the statues and plaques that honour him. But this particular date may be a mistake. The January 11 date is taken from the entry for his birth made by his father, Hugh Macdonald, in his memorandum book. The entry recorded in the General Register Office in Edinburgh, though, is January 10." Gwyn then goes on to discuss the uncertainty of what house he was born in. So I would say "conflicting evidence". God only knows Hugh Macdonald wasn't much, career wise, but a man tends to know on what date his son is born, and I'm inclined to take his word—and the word of millions of Canadians and others who have accepted it over an unknown clerk in a records office who could easily have screwed up. I'm open to discussion on this one, but I think losing the January 11 date from the lede is a nonstarter, as we will just get endless corrections. Thoughts? I could add his father's memorandum book.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:44, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
On your last point: What if he had never become PM of Canada but was instead a minor writer of travel books, and just scraped in to wiki-notability. Would you be arguing the same case? They say "Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong", but if 50 million Canadians all say Happy Birthday on 11 January, because millions of earlier Canadians did the same, that doesn't make it so. We normally accept official birth records over the word of family members, do we not? Putting the confusion onto the shoulders of "an unknown clerk in a records office" is a bit much. (I'm an infracaninophile, btw.) -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 11:10, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but it is the 11th which the Canadian government (in possession of all the facts) has made his day. I did have to look that up. This isn't a nice weather official birthday, this was a date written down by the father (I assume then) and used by John Macdonald throughout his life. I can see tweaking to explain the memorandum book. Yes, we could change it to 10 or 11 January, but I'd like to think about that and see if some other editors weigh in.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:23, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

his wife isabella clark was born the year 1843 and died in the year 1857 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:49, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Pacific scandal[edit]

The article states: "losing office for five years in the 1870s over the Pacific Scandal (bribery in the financing of the Canadian Pacific Railway)".

This is incorrect! It was the Canadian Pacific Railway that gave illegal donations to the Conservative party not bribery in the financing of the railway! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:37, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

I'll change it to "corruption".--Wehwalt (talk) 19:43, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

John MacDonald and Dominion antitrust statute[edit]

Historically significant in advancing through the House the first antitrust Law in 1889. Sherman Law was passed in 1890. [1] Note: this alone qualifies him as hero in my book :) (talk)

When I get home in 2 weeks, I will see if his biographers mention it. Or you can look in Gwyn's book if you have it and let me know. If not ... well, we are talking about a man with a fifty year public career, we can't mention everything.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:51, 3 July 2012 (UTC)



Very Worshipful Brother Sir John A. Macdonald was initiated into the order of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at St. John's Lodge No. 5 in 1844. [1] Following Confederation he affilliated with Civil Service Lodge No. 148 in Ottawa on May 11, 1869. He was later appointed to the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Provice of Ontario as Grand Senior Warden. [2] His masonic regalia is currently on display at the Masonic Temple in Kingston, Ontario.

I don't question it. But there is nothing exceptional about a Canadian PM belonging to the Masons or another fraternal organization. Given the length of the article, is it really necessary to mention it?--Wehwalt (talk) 15:46, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't think so. His masonic regalia is on display because Sir John is a notable figure, not because it is notable that he was a Mason. I do not think it needs mentioning. --Skeezix1000 (talk) 21:14, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

Yes it is worth mentioning, particularly his role in the Orange Order, largely shapped his early political carear. The Orange Order was a very powerful force in early canadian politics and is definately worth mentioning. Creighton did so in his first volume used as a source in this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:08, 28 October 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ "Sir John A. MacDonald". Famous Canadian Masons. canadianmason. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Sir John A. Macdonald". Canadian Prime Ministers. Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 

Macdonald and Disraeli[edit]

In Michael Bliss' "Right Honourable Men" it is stated that Macdonald was often mistaken for Benjamin Disraeli (p 9 of the paperback version). 14:16, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Interesting. Though Disraeli never came to North America. I'm hesitant to include it as the article is already long and if we are to add more detail, I'd prefer it to be about his later governments, where we need additional detail. I have the second volume of Gwyn's bio, but I am terribly slow on retrofitting.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:24, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
The book states that Macdonald spent holidays in Europe - and no further detail was given as to occurrances. Something for 'the very busy proverbial someone' to investigate further. :) Jackiespeel (talk) 21:30, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Alright, alright. I'm not home at present but will be next Tuesday and I'll check my references then.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:48, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Probably unless an example (or several) can be found, little more than a reference to the book in the bibliography section and this discussion here will suffice. Jackiespeel (talk) 11:18, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry I had forgotten and now I am on the road again.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:26, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

(reset) No rush - and probably only worth a passing mention - unless someone writes a best-selling novel based on the topic:) 22:02, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 16 February 2014[edit]

You wrote that his family emigrated but its spelt immigrated (talk) 03:39, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Done. It was indeed being used incorrectly. I've made the change in the article. Thanks! --ElHef (Meep?) 04:19, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Correct political party[edit]

MacDonald's party was the "Liberal-Conservative" party.

Please correct this in the sideboard. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:22, 15 June 2014 (UTC)

It is discussed in the article.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:38, 15 June 2014 (UTC)


should put him in Category:Anglo-Scots — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:22, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Goals and beliefs II[edit]

I hate to stir up crap with what's mostly a fine article, but since I think this is worth addressing: For someone who's considered the Founding Father of Canada, this article doesn't do a lot to tell us about MacDonald's political ideology. Why did he join the Conservative party? What characteristics (personal or political) distinguished him from the other Conservatives, or from other politicians in Canada? Why was he popular? What policies did he prioritize? The article makes it clear he favored Confederation, expansion, railways, tariff protection, and the National Policy, but readers probably shouldn't have to read half an article to get this information. Personally I feel most readers would get more out of this sort of info than the convoluted political maneuvers of 150 years ago.

Also, the last paragraph mentions "a head tax on Chinese workers" as one of MacDonald's legacies, without another reference in the rest of the article. Brutannica (talk) 06:52, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

You're right there. To be blunt, it was because it wasn't covered in the books I had and was mentioned at the end of Volume I of Gwyn's bio. Now that volume two is out it could probably be improved, but I rarely have time to go back and do these things. We are very shorthanded.--Wehwalt (talk) 07:29, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Legacy and tributes[edit]

There is a building at Queen's University, in Kingston Ontario, named after Sir John A. Macdonald. Completed in 1960, the building currently houses the the Lederman Law Library as well as a Moot Court room. [1] Guptamohit96 (talk) 07:55, 15 February 2015 (UTC)


If it wasn't in Kingston, I'd oppose adding it. Possibly we could place it in the discussion of sites dedicated to Macdonald? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wehwalt (talkcontribs) 19:46, 15 February 2015‎

I know this is not a forum, but may I ask why the building at Queen's University does not belong in the Legacy and Tributes section? After all, it is rightly named because of his legacy. He helped found Queen's before practicing law. It is also significant as Macdonald came from Kingston. In any rate, it should be mentioned somewhere on his Wikipedia page. Guptamohit96 (talk) 09:23, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

  • X mark.svg Not done - there are many university buildings named for Macdonald, but consensus appears to be against adding them. Please discuss this change and establish consensus before making an edit request. Ivanvector (talk) 16:30, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

"He drank heavily..."[edit]

"He drank heavily, and in 1873 was voted out during the Pacific Scandal, in which his party took bribes from businessmen seeking the contract to build the Pacific Railway."

What does Macdonald's alcoholism have to do with his involvement in the Pacific Scandal? This opening remark appears to be entirely unconnected. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:10, 22 June 2016 (UTC)

New Statue Erected[edit]

A new statue has been erected in the Township of Wilmot in the town of Baden, Ontario at the site of Castle Kilbride and the Township's Administration offices. [1]

Komodothedragon (talk) 14:38, 4 July 2016 (UTC)komododragon July 4, 2016

Yes, and that is great both for the township and Macdonald, but we are trying to keep the statues on the Toronto-Montreal-Vancouver sort of level so we don't bore the reader too much.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:12, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

No discussion of racist views, actions[edit]

"However, John A. Macdonald did not see this tradition as valuable or appropriate and, under the guise of unifying the Dominion of Canada, encouraged the government to lay “an iron hand on the shoulders of the [native] people” by restricting some of their non-essential, inappropriate rituals and leading them towards what he perceived as a ‘healthier’ European mindset." -

Why are none of this person's racist views, beliefs and actions discussed on his page when they are described on other pages on Wikipedia? This seems like a pretty glaring and somewhat suspicious omission. (talk) 16:28, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Are there a number of reliable sources that cover this issue, including Macdonald's biographers? If so, I expect that there would be consensus to add something on the matter. I wrote much of the article. Frankly, although I know what potlatch is, I'm not conversant with Macdonald's role in it.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:58, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
  • I know there has been recent revelations about Macdonald and racism, at least in the press. I don't know if any historian had done any work in this area. I think any addition of material about Macdonald's racism needs to address 19th century attitudes towards race and whether Macdonald's personal beliefs were extreme for the time. Certainly by our standards he was a racist. Further, some have suggested that he wasn't merely a racist but in fact a white supremacist (although again, by our way of thinking). As well, it's suggested that his views were considered extreme by other 19th century figures. If there is compelling evidence of this, we should include it. When dealing with historical figures, judging them by our standards is difficult. For example, Henry Ford was a well-known anti-Semite. Not unusual in and of itself for a man of his era. However, his views were considered extreme by his contemporaries, he was criticized for his views during his life and he published an anti-Semitic newspaper that promoted vicious anti-Semitism. Historians have addressed this issue and it's mentioned in the article. We would need the same level of contemporary reaction to Macdonald's views (his colleagues, newspapers and so on) plus some decent academic and news sources. freshacconci talk to me 17:29, 27 July 2016 (UTC)