Timeline

The timeline below showcases how the public opinion of Sir John A. Macdonald has changed over time. The more positively Macdonald was viewed at that time, the further right that date marker will be, the more negatively, the further left.

You can click on any of the dates to learn more information about what happened that year to change this public perception.

1867

1867

1864

1862

1856

1854

1843

1815

2022

2020

2018

2017

2001

1895

1891

1886

1885

1885

1885

1879

1872

1843

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Macdonald is elected into his first political position as the post of alderman in Kingston's Fourth Ward.

1867

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Macdonald negotiated a deal with The Hudson's Bay Company to transfer Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to Canada for a total of $1,500,000. A move that caused the Red River Rebellion, led by Louis Riel.

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Arthur H. Tweedle / Library and Archives Canada / e002344213

1854

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Macdonald led the charge when forming the Liberal-Conservatives government, a coalition that served as the main political opponent to the Liberals, also known as

"The Grits".

1856

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Macdonald was elected as premier of the Canada West Conservatives, beating out the previous leader Sir Allan Napier MacNab.

1862

As the American Civil War continued in the US, many Canadians begin to fear a potential invasion. During this time, Macdonald is drinking heavily, and is unable to provide proper leadership, leading to the fall of the Conservative led government.

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1815

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On January 11, 1815, Sir John A. Macdonald was born.

1864

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The Charlottetown Conference, a conference in which the Maritimes assembled to consider a union under a confederation. This conference was led by Macdonald, Cartier, and Brown, and concluded with all parties involved expressing a willingness to join a potential confederation.

Charlottetown_Conference_Delegates,_Sept

George P. Roberts / Library and Archives Canada / C-000733

1867

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On the First of July, Canada came into existence as a nation, and Macdonald was appointed as Canada's first prime minister by Lord Monck.

1872

Macdonald and other senior members of his Conservative cabinet were revealed through leaked documents to be accepting election funds from Sir Hugh Allan in exchange for the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway . This was Macdonald's biggest scandal of the time, and one he almost could not save his political career from.

M994X.5.273.73 | Print | Whither Are We Drifting ?

© McCord Museum

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1885

Louis Riel led the North-West Rebellion, a Métis uprising against Macdonald's government. In response to this rebellion, Macdonald had Riel hanged, a decision that was highly controversial even in his time.

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Unknown Photograph / Library and Archives Canada / Fonds Jean Riel / e011156658

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1879

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Macdonald began to research the United States' industrial boarding school system, eventually leading to the creation of Canada's official residential schooling system in 1883.

Canada. Department of Interiors / Library and Archives Canada / PA-042133

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1885

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Following the North-West Rebellion, Macdonald implemented harsh restrictions on the movements of Indigenous groups.

1885

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Macdonald enacted the Chinese Immigration Act, now forcing any Chinese immigrants entering Canada to pay a $50 "Head Tax" upon entry. Macdonald is quoted as saying if the Chinese are not excluded from Canada, "the Aryan character of the future of British America [would] be destroyed."

1886

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Macdonald's lifelong project, the Canadian Pacific Railway, was finally finished, completing Macdonald's promise of uniting British Columbia with the rest of Canada.

1891

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After being re-elected as prime minister for the 6th time, Sir John A. Macdonald passes away on June 6, 1891.

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1895

The first statue of Sir John A. Macdonald is erected on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

City of Ottawa Archives / MG393-NP-31240-001

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2001

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Parliament officially designates the 11th of January as Sir John A. Macdonald Day, though this day was never officially considered a federal holiday.

Today

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Macdonald remains a complicated figure with many controversial policies tied to his name that have impacted the Canadian landscape. How do you want to remember Sir John A. Macdonald?

2017

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The Canadian Historical Association removes Macdonald's name from their prize for best scholarly book about Canadian history.

2018

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A statue of Macdonald was removed from outside Victoria City Hall as part of the city's program for reconciliation with local First Nations.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

2020

Amid Black Lives Matter protests, the Macdonald Monument in Montreal is vandalized, toppled, and decapitated.

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THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

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