William McDougall (politician)

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The Honourable
William McDougall
William McDougall.jpg
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Lanark North
In office
Succeeded by Daniel Galbraith
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Lanark North
In office
Preceded by William McCraney
Succeeded by William McCraney
Lieutenant-Governor of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory
In office
Monarch Victoria
Succeeded by Adams George Archibald
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for Simcoe South
In office
Personal details
Born (1822-01-25)January 25, 1822
York (Toronto), Upper Canada
Died May 29, 1905(1905-05-29) (aged 83)
Ottawa, Ontario
Political party Liberal-Conservative
Cabinet Minister of Public Works (1867–1869)

Sir William McDougall PC CB (January 25, 1822 – May 29, 1905) was a Canadian lawyer, politician and one of the Fathers of Confederation.

Born near York, Upper Canada (now Toronto, Ontario), the son of Daniel McDougall and Hannah Matthews, McDougall received his education at Victoria College in Cobourg, Upper Canada, and in 1847, began practising law as an attorney and solicitor in Upper Canada. In 1862, he was called to the Upper Canada Bar.

In 1849, William McDougall's office in Toronto was the meeting place for the Clear Grit political movement. Other Clear Grit supporters included Peter Perry, David Christie, Charles Clarke, Charles Lindsay, and Malcolm Cameron. In 1850 he started The North American, a liberal newspaper.[1]

He was elected as a member of the legislative assembly in 1858 and served as Commissioner of Crown Lands and Provincial Secretary. He attended all three Confederation Conferences, and then served as Minister of Public Works in the Macdonald government.

In the federal election of 1867 he was elected in the district of Lanark North, for the Liberal-Conservative party.

McDougall was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory in 1869. The only travel route at the time was through the United States with the permission of U.S. President Grant. However, when he tried to enter that jurisdiction from the Dakota Territory up the Red River, he was turned back near the border by Louis Riel's insurgents before he could establish his authority at Fort Garry (now Winnipeg, Manitoba). Dispatches on microfiche at the Main Library of the City of Toronto include his request for 1,000 British troops to be sent on the authority of Queen Victoria. She responded that she would prefer a more amicable settlement of the jurisdiction issue. He returned to Ottawa, and campaigned against Manitoba becoming a province because of its very few inhabitants at that time. The area of Fort Garry was about 50 square miles (130 km2). He also continued to serve as an interim leader of the North-West provisional government from Ottawa until Adams George Archibald took over on May 10, 1870.

In the federal election of 1872, he ran again for the Liberal-Conservative party in Lanark North but was defeated. In 1875, he was elected to the Parliament of the Province of Ontario. He served as an Independent-Liberal from June 1, 1875, until September 9, 1878, for the electoral district of Simcoe South.

In the federal election of 1878, he ran in Halton and was re-elected in the election of 1882 in Algoma and Grenville South in the election of 1887 he was defeated.

In 1890 he was promised a Senate seat, but did not pursue an appointment because his health was failing. During the conferences preceding Confederation, McDougall was personally in favour of electing members to The Senate of Canada. He was also offered a federal judgeship in British Columbia, which he turned down.

He died 15 years later on May 29, 1905.

William McDougall and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln[edit]

William McDougall and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

Fathers of Confederation McDougall and Galt went to Washington D.C., U.S.A. to meet with President Abraham Lincoln to renegotiate the Reciprocity Treaty.

Abraham Lincoln explained that he had an important event to attend and had to travel to Pennsylvania. Since he and McDougall had so much in common, and were friends, he invited McDougall to accompany him on his trip by train and coach. They stayed the night at the private home of David Wills, a wealthy 32-year-old Gettysburg attorney.

The next day, November 19, 1863, at the opening ceremonies of the new Gettysburg cemetery for fallen soldiers of the American Civil War, many great orators spoke for hours. Abraham Lincoln's speech was brief. The Canadian and British press wrote positively about Lincoln's speech. Generally, the American press condemned it for its brevity. To this day, most people don't know about the many speeches of that day. They do remember Abraham Lincoln's speech which became known as the Gettysburg Address.

In the 1950s, then United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when addressing a joint session of the Parliament of Canada, told this story of McDougall's friendship and travel with Lincoln to open the cemetery in Gettysburg as an example of the long history of friendship between Canada and The United States of America. It can be found in "The Hansard", the official publication containing the transcripts of the Parliament of Canada. A copy of "The Hansard" containing President Eisenhower's speech was autographed and commented by then-Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, and can be found in the Baldwin Room (a secured archives area) of the Main Library of The City of Toronto, Ontario.

William McDougall was from the first 12 families to settle in York.

William McDougall was the 3rd generation of United Empire Loyalists to settle in York (now known as Toronto, Ontario, Canada). His great, great paternal grandparents were among the first 12 families that moved to York along with 450 British troops in 1793. The British troops then built Fort York to protect against American invasion.


Mrs. William McDougall

William McDougall married November, 1872, as his second wife, Mary Adelaide Beatty, daughter of Dr. John Beatty, a professor in Victoria University, Cobourg, Ont., and his wife, Eleanor. She was born and educated at Cobourg, Ontario. She was involved in benevolent and philanthropic movements including the Ottawa Humane Society. The couple lived at 407 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa. The couple had three sons. Harold and Gladwyn Macdougall served with the Canadian contingent during the Boer War in South Africa. [2]

His sister Emily married Liberal Senator David Reesor in 1847.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hopkins, J. Castell (1898). An historical sketch of Canadian literature and journalism. Toronto: Lincott. p. 227. ISBN 0665080484. 
  2. ^ Morgan, Henry James Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada : (Toronto, 1903) [1]
  3. ^ http://www.reesorranch.com/ranchhistory.html