395 Laurier Avenue East
Macdonald the Monument
Stadacona Hall, which Macdonald occupied from 1878 to 1883, was his third place of residence in Sandy Hill. As the only house that is still standing, his presence has settled here. His political legacy and status as a national icon is nothing if not complicated. He has maintained the power to both unite and divide, to provoke dialogue, and to encourage reflection on what it means to live in Canada. Join us for the second to last stop of the tour and revisit Sir John A Macdonald’s unsettling legacy.
Transportation Ticket: Sir John A. Macdonald Funeral Train
Bytown Museum, N60 a
On June 10th, 1891, after the funeral at St. Alban’s, a decorated CPR funeral train carried the body of Sir John A. Macdonald from Ottawa to Kingston, where he would be buried. A round-trip ticket for the special Funeral Train to honour the late prime minister was sold to follow the procession and travel to his funeral. Crowds of incredible numbers of mourners lined the route and thronged to its final destination to say goodbye to Canada’s first prime minister.
Unveiling of Sir John A. MacDonald Statue
Bytown Museum, P690
Photographic, Paper, Glass, Cardboard, Wood, Plaster, Paint
Canadian Museum of History, 2011.31.1
Wakeling, Edward H., Kingston, Ontario
Consultation of the original aluminium monumental courtesy of the Morris Family
Statues of Sir John A. Macdonald have come into focus recently, amid conflicting arguments about whether monuments of controversial figures should remain in places of honour. A statue of Macdonald in Montreal was brought down during a protest in the summer of 2020. Ottawa's mayor Jim Watson announced that the monument on Parliament Hill would not be taken down. Rather, he encouraged the inclusion of additional plaques outlining both accomplishments and criticisms of the former prime minister.
This portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald was made in celebration of the Canadian Centennial in 1967. The 100th anniversary of Confederation prompted the creation of commemorative objects, many of them in honour of the Fathers of Confederation. This crayon-rendering shows Macdonald surrounded by the Provincial Coats of Arms, and a ribbon identifies him as "Father of Confederation". This stylized depiction contributes to Macdonald's iconic status and centres his legacy as the principal architect of Confederation. Through this work, alongside other commemorative pieces, Sir John A. Macdonald is remembered not only as a historical figure, but also as a symbol of Canada.
On July 1, 1895, a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald was erected on Parliament Hill to commemorate his role as Canada’s first prime minister. A crowd of 5000 people attended the ceremony. In the various addresses, Macdonald was described as “the chieftain, the statesman so loved by the people of Canada,” and praised for his loyalty to the Crown and the British Empire.
In his address at the ceremony, Prime Minister Mackenzie Bowell discussed the significance of this monument: “But having said so much in their honour, let me suppose for a moment what lesson it is that these silent but suggestive monuments should teach us [...] These monuments teach us that the British Empire is one of the greatest secular agents for good that the world has ever seen […] Again, they teach us that civic freedom is better preserved by British laws, traditions, and institutions than under any system in the world.”
The year 1967 was a "year-long party" to celebrate the birth of the nation. Notable events included the unveiling of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill, an address from Queen Elizabeth, and the Centennial Train carrying a mobile museum of Confederation across Canada. While much of the Centennial was celebratory, Chief Dan George of the Coast Salish Band of Tsleil-Waututh Nation was also featured in the series of events, addressing the harm caused by Confederation. In his lament, George mourned the devastation to Indigenous cultures and Peoples brought about in the last 100 years.
C.P.R. Centennial Celebrations, 1985
Bytown Museum, P2633
Photograph: silver gelatin
Macdonald’s Last Ride on the CPR
THE CANADIAN PRESS
THE CANADIAN PRESS