Introduction

Haunted by Sir John A. Macdonald in Sandy Hill

Sir John A. Macdonald – Canada’s first prime minister and one of the Fathers of Confederation – is one of Sandy Hill’s most famous residents. This canalside neighbourhood is saturated with memories of the bygone politician, for better or for worse. No longer the unquestioned heroic leader and unifier depicted in textbooks, Macdonald, along with his policies and their legacies, has come under increasing public scrutiny. A complicated and controversial figure to which both the great project of nation building and “Canada’s National Crime,” referring to the residential school system, are attributed; reinterpreting Macdonald is no simple task.

 

In considering how Macdonald haunts Sandy Hill, his residence for nearly two decades in the late 19th century,  this virtual exhibition contributes to that effort. It does so by disentangling  strands of memory through which we come to know this larger-than-life figure – as a man, as a politician, and as an icon. Join us on a tour of places and objects that speak to the many facets of Macdonald: who he was, what he did, and what he symbolizes in the present.

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