Joseph Edmund Collins.

Life and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada online

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1) C.L., portrait, 8vo, morocco, extra <iilt tdues
2.00, 1883. '

''N-ocinva,ofthe country has been made fur opinions
pubUa i ) ,l iq tins book. We have approached our subject

.cold blood, banishing sympathy from our hearts ;
neither have experienced the slfffhttt* ttiiga of remom
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- BANK NOTE ENGPAV.NG&PRlNTiNG COMPANY



LIFE AND TIMES



OF



THE EIGHT HONOURABLE



SIRJOHNA.MACDONALD



K.f.K. D.C.I... fca,



PREMIER OF THE DOMINION OF CANADA.



.1 . i:. COLLIN




(Toronto, 8 a I a d a :
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514515



PREFACE.



"YT O canvass of the country baa been made fur opinions to put
-*-' in this Look. We have approached our subject in cold
blood, banishing sympathy from our heart ; neither have we
rienoed the slightest tinge of remorse for the pain thai we
moat liavr frequently occasioned through these pages. The
historian or the surgeon with a soft heart is not of much bene-
fit to his race. This book may seem to have taken s party trend.
IVihaps it has. But the trend was with the Reformer till

he turned Tory, and then with the < 'on^ervative who bad
turned Liberal. We most unhesitatingly give our preference
to the Conservatives now because of their more vigorous and
liberal policy ; though we should have for thai political body

a vastly increased admiration, did it accept Mr. Blake's doc-
trine concerning treaty-making and commit itself to an ex-
tinction of that legislative scare-emw, the Senate. This volume
has been written hastily, so that several clerical errors have
* jpt in ; but the opinion of the book must be taken exactly
I »und on the page. Let us here express our gratitude
to Mr. G. Mercer Adam for information, guidance and numer-
ous hints while at our work, and for his revision of the sheets
as they went through the press ; but this assistance, it is proper



viii PREFACE.

iv, was purely of a literary nature, and he is in no way
responsible for the opinions in the book. Mr. Adam, with the
modesty which is only equalled by his courtesy and merit, de-
sired, in consequence of his connection with the sheets, that
no mention should be made of him, save casually, in our
chapter upon Canadian literature ; but we have not allowed
this to interfere with a sense of duty. We are under obligations
t<> Mr. J. Watson, of the legislative library, for attention and
courtesy while making research among the very limited collec-
tion of documents in that institution.

We have no apology whatever to offer for the book. It must
now fight its own way.

THE AUTHOR.

Toronto, 24th May, 1883.



CONTENTS



OHAPTEB I.

MM

Parentage of Sir J..hti A. Ml vh 1 and Bchool Dayi Choice

of a Profession— Defence of Shoultz His Law Otto 4 Stat-.

in* n" Incidents and charaoterittios of hi> F.ariv Kit'.- 'I '!:•■ hattl. -at Wind
mill Point - - • - • - ... 17

( H M'l'Kl; II.

Political Dpi

at !'• ' «-f Popular frtdOM in England TTw Family Oompi

;„'gle between Liberalism and Toryism The BabolMoa in L ower Ca nada
lattowi Hil. Er Francis Sond Head -Lords

ban S> 1-n ham— Bagot— Metcalfe. •

OHAPTBB III.

darity " If I wviv only prepared now I should

try for the Le^i Yes, fOttdat 09 that stormy sky, I see my star

Political Tumult playa the Hindoo Macdonald

Um Council < 'ailed oul Manahan -Addreas-

f the Time. 50

OB kPTXB iv.

I m -Macdonald'a Early Toryism -The Character
of 1. • Blood ami Whiskey low at the Election— The Fountain

• f Honour a tainted Well, the Mirror of Justice a Mirage — Mr. Macdonald's

A] parance in the 1/egialature— Historical Sketch of the Time. - 02



CHAPTER V.

untaina— Macdonald'a First Spaech in the House, and
its Efftot t'er^onal Sketches - H A : irance and Address— Supports
the Law of Primogeniture -Put for thi8 Law Pitt and Fox would have
ii "mere country squires" Apparent inconsistencies — Explanation —
11 A man is not bom zag early careers of Disraeli and Gladstone
— Metcalfe's GonaeJaiMM begin • r drags him to the

Epitaph Franklin sails] away to his Doom in the
North. - . 72



x ' CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VI.

NM

The Lights of '44— William Henry Draper Robert Baldwin— Louis Hypolite
Lafontaine— Sir Allan Mac Nab— Dominick Daly— Robert Baldwin Sulli-
van- Mi.n. 1>. B. Vigor- John Sandfield Macdonald. - - - - 8G

CHAPTKB VII.

The Last Days ..f Toryism The Traotarian Movement at Oxford Kehle and
Newman- The Repot] Movement in Irolmrt The Greet (y( 'onnell — Rise

and ( ioUofNM of his Movement Hm diant O'Connell totters and falls —
The Irish Famine— I mini-ration to Canada The Oregon -boundary Dis-
pute— Macd-nald's Star ( 'limbing— He " can atf«.rd to wait" Toryism's
Last Appeal— Lord ld-in- Maedonald enters the Cabinet. - - - 99

CHAPTER VIII.

Ruling in Storm BfcetoB of lb-hellion Losses Y I •ill provokes a Tory

Howl The Storm Bursts Mob tro- and hum- Parliament Buildings —
I >i\ . rs Figures seen throu_:h tie of the Troubles John A.

Macdonald seen through the Tumult "The British North American
League"—" Children of the Sun"— Parliament removed from Montreal. - 114

OHAPTSB IX.

Fall of the "Great Ministry"— Causes producing the Catastrophe Mac-
donald seen through the Situation— The Pope ( J- n\ manders Finland—
( anadian Echo of British Rage— George Brown attempts to overthrow tie-
Papacy— He Fails— Brown and Gavazzi and the OloU— William Lyon
Mackenzie— Sketch of- Defeats George Brown— Figure of John A. Mac-
donald at these Sessions- The Ministry Tumbles—" The Weed had slain
Balder"— The Hincks-Morin Ministry. 136

CHAPTER X.

Proposal for Secularizing the Clergy Reserves -History of Reserves— History
of Feudal Tenure in ada Agitation for Abolition of Tenui
Francis Hincks— Augustin Norbert Morin — John Macdonald becomes con-
troversial — Character of George Brown's first Speech in Legislature -
General Sketch of the Period. 150

CHAPTER XL

Birth of Liberal-Conservatism— England declares War against Russia — Con-
elusion of Reciprocity Treaty — Hincks-Morin Ministry becomes Honey-
combed—Mr. John A. Macdonald's Part in the Strife— " Steeped to the
very lips in Infamy" — The " Bond of Common Plunder" — John Sandfield
Macdonald's Revenge on Mr. Hincks— George Brown coquets with Con-
servatives—He is ignored and flies into violent hostility— MacNab-Morin
Ministry- Mr. John A. Macdonald becomes Attorney -General- West —
Exit Lord Elgin — Dies in the Himalayas. 101



Al



■i



CONTENTS. xi

CHAPTER XII.

PA6B

Sir Edmund W. Head — Tache succeeds Morin -Denominational Schools— Pas-
sage between George Brown and Hon. .John A. Maodonald— Tilt between
Mr. John A. Maedonald and Col. Rankin — The Conservatives drop Sir
Allan MacXah - Hon. John A. Maolonald succeeds the Knight— Close of
the Crimean War General Historic Record of the Time. - - - 18$

CHAPTER XIII.

The Double Shuffle— Brown's " Vaulting Ambition overleaps itself, and falls
on t'other -Me" Mr. .John A. Maedonald's part through the transaction —

Discretion matched againat tapetuoeity going Blindfold Protection to

Home Industries- heath of Mwin General Kvents. . \4&*v*

OHAFTBB XIV.

Transition The hark Hour preceding th» hawn Causes at work producing

•ion Knihroiliueiit of Cpi'er with Lower Canada

anent Representation by Population P.itP-r Parte Strife, and the chief

Alltmi lfl John A. lim n through the Tumult Instability of

Ministers — "The Fatal Balance of Parties" Condition of Thing! in N

kin and X. ooaaioa of Southern State- Qenatnl lli~

v toiic ( hitlim I n< -iih-uts. 2M

OHAPTBB w.
>f the American Civil A\ bern Conuninion<

• tv from ( 'anadian Frontier —
Privateering -Cruise of the AUbaWM an<l her Confreres Public feeling in

2S7
OH LPTER xvi.

The Coalition— Oil and iite~Canalian Delegates at the Charlotte-
town < 'onf.-reiice— The Onebec 8cn€ine — Canadian helegates in Kngland
History- of the Confed eration Movement from Deadlock to Un ion Hon.
John A. Maedonald's Pari through the Movement -Domestic an 1 I
nts.

(11 tPTIB xvn.

Pr -niinent ICambatl "f tic- Fir-t Dominion Cabinet GfoorgC ft « 'artier— A.

T. Gait B.L. Laa . Till-y Pater Mltohell W. P. Howland

— Alexander Campbell.

CHAPTER XVIII.

Reform, r- Read out of the R.mks M. ( auchon's
" Hank" offence— Sket< he ^ ,,f Thomas D'Ar . hi- assassination. 338

CHAPTER XIX.

The Red River Rebellion— Causes of the Outbreak— Col. Dennis and the Sur-
1 l.n. Wm. McDougall on the Scene- -The Brutal Murder of Scott



xii COX TESTS.



PAGE



— The Bishop cloaking the Murderer — Governor Archibald'* Foul Coin-
pact. - 308

CHAPTER XX.

Withdrawal 0| Hritish S.ddiers— The Wrestle between Tupper and Howe-
Sketch of Tupji r '[";.■• Blrfpfodty 'I'n-aty— Sir John among the Commis-
missioners ; his Defence J. H. Cameron's Defence of Sir Tohn— The New
Uruuswick School Hill; and John < 'ostigan— Sketch of Lord Dufferin— A
Bomb flung on the Floor of the HboM of Commons. 365

chapter xxi.

rT hg Pacific Railway— Companies formed for Construction of the Road - Sir
Hugh Allan and the Government— The General Elections— The Scandal ;
" ^ history of same— Sir John and the Country through the Storm. - '

CB LPTEB XXII.



386



Sir John Resigns— The Mackenzie Government— Glance at the new Premier as
>Ii— d«t A Murd.-rer in Town— British Columbia in F.rin.iit Mr. Mac-
kenzie's Struggle for Dominion Kights— Stagnation in Trade— Proposal of
.aional Policy The Political Tornado ; Mackenzie swept from Power ;
Sir .John Reinstated: the Pacific Scandal Condoned-The New Tariff
Governor Letellier— Recent Developments in New Bi -unswick— The Pacific
Railway Syndicate- Sir John again Victorious— Sketch of Hon. A. W.
McLelan ; Hon. John Costigan ; Chief Justice Sir W. J. Ritchie ; Hon.
Edward Blake. 407

CHAPTER XXIII.

Thought and Literature of Canada— The Future of Quebec ; Future of the Do-
minion—French Canadian Litterateurs— The English-Canadian Writers-
Canadian Prose and Song — Sketch of Work of Leading Writers—
Canadian Independence. 435

CHAPTER XXIV.

Summing up of Sir John's Work— The Premier seen on the Hustings : in the
House of Commons ; in the Domestic Circle ; his Influence upon Public
Life— Lady Macdonald in the Social Sphere — A Retrospect. - - - 499



APPENDIX,



CHIEF SPEECHES DELIVEBED BY SIB JOHN SINCE HIS ENTBY INTO PUBLIC LIFE. 511
EiTBACTS FBOM LOBD DURHAM'S BEPORT. 621



LIFE AND TIMES



OP



THE RIGHT HONOURABLE



SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD



CHAPTER I.



PAKKNTACK AND EARLY LIFE.

IN tin rammer of 1820, a vessel neared the coast of Canada,
and among the many anxious eyes that saw far tin first
time the blue, hazy hills of tin- Dew land wherein they were to
try their fortunes, was a small family group, one of which was
a bright-eyed little boy of five years old, with a merry face and
a wealth of dark curly hair. That were a prophet with a keen
insight, indeed, into tin- great, dark future who could foretell
that the child who clung to his mother's arm and looked glee-
fully towards the shore was one day to rise to a place of
the highest distinction in this strange land and become the
most conspicuous figure in her history. At this time the
mother country was full of wondrous stories concerning
Canada ; how men going thither without a shilling in
their pockets grew rich in half a dozen years ; that land
pregnant with all the luxurious things of the earth was
to be had for the taking, and that much of what was needed
sprang spontaneously out of the soil. If the winter's frosts



18 LIFE OF S7B JOHN A. MACDONALD.

an 1 BtU -\\> swy>- mentiu/ied it was but to give an added beauty
to the picture; for the listener saw wide blue-glinting lakes
and frozen winding streams over which the skater skimmed;
and adown the snow-clad slopes came gleeful parties with
ringing laughter and merry songs, upon their sleds. Above
all, there blew over this fresh, fair land the breeze of
liberty ; here every man was equal, and the position of the
father was not a ladder by which his son rose to place above
worthier men. It was no wonder, then, that the old land
where the tyrant Custom had so long oppressed and galled
the people, opened her loins and sent out the flow which so
rapidly converted our vast wildernesses into thriving agricul-
tural districts.

Among others came Mr. Hugh Macdonald, who could trace
his elan backward through nearly six centuries, till the great
figure of Donald, in the thirteenth century, looms up as Lord of
South Kintyre and the Island of Islay. He, the old annals
tell, had been a powerful chief, and was not sparing of his clay-
more when he met the foe. But as years began to tame his
fire, he repented of his ways and set out for Rome, where,
footsore and weary, he besought absolution of the Pope for his
transgressions. He returned from Rome a subdued man, and
gave much of his wide lands to Holy Church. He had a
son, named Angus, more fierce and strong in the fight than
himself, and this son rallied his clan about him, when the Nor-
wegians came, to lend assistance to the strangers against the
Scottish king. Angus left two sons, one of whom was Alex-
ander, a name we trace down through some of the most
noted members of the clan, and find borne to-day by the
subject of this biography. Alexander was not less bold in war
or aggressive in politics than his ancestors, and, as will be re-
membered, joined his forces with those of Lord Lorn against
Robert Bruce. But the Bruce proved stronger than the united
chiefs, and Macdonald was cast into Dundonald Castle, where
he died. Angus, the son of Alexander, was the greatest of the



PARENTAGE AND EARLY LIFE. 19

clan of which Scottish story, up to this time, tells us ;
he had all the military ardour of his ancestors, with more tact
and foresight. He was not less respected than feared by
Bruce — and we can fancy the calibre of the man whom
Bruce would respect and fear — who gave to him the
lands of Glencoe ; (fated between three and four centuries
afterwards, to be the shambles of so many of his gallant clan)
the islands of Mull, Tyree, and many others. The wisdom
of these grants to a chief already too powerful, and who
boasted through the legend in his anus a power unlimited
"per mnr.\ per terras" might have well been doubted.
r on, we find this haughty chief meddling in the affairs
of tin- king, showing "just the edge of his steel" to the
reign ; and then funning an alliance with the house of
Stewart, by marrying a daughter of Robert, who became
Scotland- next king. The history of this haughty island
king and his successors fbrjna exciting reading, and we pause
in wonder at the mighty clansmen grappling with the full
Strength of the kingdom. Through all the turmoil of the story
we see ambition striving at nothing short of a displacement of
, power upon the main land, sometimes working
itfl way through intrigue with the foreign foe, and again send-
ing in tierce warriors, clad in tartans, and wielding thirsty
olaymoreft, to grapple with the royal enemy in his own strong-
holds.

The student of Highland story has read of the treachery of
James the First towards the clan. Despairing of subduing the
untamable chiefs, the King sent out a message of peace, with
words of good-will, to Alexander the island prince, and asked
him to come, as a brother, with his most prominent followers
and kinsmen, to Inverness, where he with his nobles would
hold a parliament. Earl Macdonald came, and with him his
mother, the Countess of Ross, Alexander MacGodfrey, of Gar-
moran, and others. The great chief soon found that the King
wanted him not for parley ; for the royal soldiers seized him-



20 LIFE OF SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD.

self and his mother, both of whom were cast into a dungeon;
and put MacGodfrey to death. This chieftain has a descend-
ant and namesake whom we know of who would not have
walked open-eyed into the trap of the Scottish King ! Alex-
ander, however, was released upon promise of submission, but
he had no sooner reached his sea-girt fastness than he buckled
on his " warlike gear." He was overwhelmed, and compelled to
beseech the royal clemency. It is told that he went to Edinburgh;
and on the occasion of a solemn festival celebrated in the Chapel
of Holyrood, on Easter Sunday, 1429, that the unfortunate chief,
whose ancestors had treated with the Crown on the footing of
independent princes, appeared before the assembled Court in
his shirt and drawers, and implored on his knees, with a naked
sword held by the point in his hand, the forgiveness of the
monarch. The King was partly mollified, and sent Macdonald
to Tantallon Castle, but later set him free, and conferred upon
him all his old dominions. The direct line of the Lords of
the Isles ended with Donald Macdonald, grandson of John
Macdonald. This was a powerful chief, and he rallied four
thousand men, and a hundred and eighty galleys, in his
island dominions. After his death the unity of the family
became broken, and its patrimony divided among several sub-
families of the original stock. In later generations the Mac-
donalds of Garragach and Keppoch became the Clanranald
clan, and spelt their name Macdonnell, while the Glengarry
Macdonald adopted a similar spelling, taking a new arms, with
the motto of the Lord of the Isles — Per mare, per terras.
The acknowledged representative of the original Macdonald
clan is now the Macdonald of Sleat, though many deny his
right to the title, and him Mr. Hugh Macdonald, who came of
the same stock, recognised as his chief, as does his son,
Sir John Alexander Macdonald, the subject of this book.
The legend in the crest of Mr. Hugh Macdonald, as in that
of his son, differs not from that of the family progenitor,



PA B KXTA GE AND EA EL Y LIFE. 21

the Lord of the Isles, which proudly tells of dominion through
land and sea.

Mr, Hugh Macdonald was born in the parish of Dornoch,
Sutherlandshire, but early in life moved to Glasgow. He mar-
ried Helen Shaw, of Badenoch, Inverness-shire, by whom he had
five children, of which three were boys, William, John
Alexander and James ; and two girls, Margaret and Louisa.
The birthplace of Canada's future statesman, as of the other
members of the family, was George Street, Glasgow. William.
the oldest of the children, died in Glasgow; James, the younger
of the boys, died while a lad in Canada ; Margaret, who married
professor James Williamson, of Queen's University, Kingston,
has been dead for some yean ; and Louisa, who never married, is
still Living at Kingston. When the emigration movement began,
Mr. Hugh Macdnuald and his family, John Alexander being
then in his fifth year, took passage far the inviting land of
Canada. The early immigrants settled, whenever possible,
convenient to the lakes or great rivers, for bere the inhabitants
clustered together ; little .schools sprang up and rude highways
connected one village with the other. Mr. Macdonald settled in
Kingston, then the most important town in Upper Canada, near
the historic fort of De Courceiles and Count Frontenac in suc-
»n, and n. \t to Halifax and Quebec, the strongest fortress
in British North Am. n i< a. This city ottered many inducements,
in the form of excellent schools and churches, besides social ad-
vantages not existing in other parts of Upper Canada. After
residing here for upwards of four years, the family moved to
Quinte* Bay, leaving John Alexander, then in his tenth year,
at school in Kingston. The lad was placed at the Royal
Grammar School, under the tuition of Dr. Wilson, a fellow of
Oxford University, and subsequently under that of Mr. George
Baxter.

The most important settlement upon the Bay at this time
was Adolphustown, and here Mr. Macdonald took up his
abode, leasing a saw, grist and fulling mill at the Lake



22 LIFE OF SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD.

of the Mountain, about a mile distant. Adolphustown,
though only a quiet village now, where the tourist loves
to linger in the summer days, is historic ground, and in the
early history of the province was a centre of much business
activity. Here it was that forty }-ears before the Hagermans,
the Ruttans, and Macleans, headed by Capt. Van Alstine in a
fleet of seven boats, guarded by the brig Hope carrying
thirty guns, settled after their flight from the New England
Colonies. From this township, though only three and a half
miles square, have gone to the legislatures of Canada no fewer
than eleven representatives, every one a Loyalist. The history
of the early settlers' struggles in the backwoods would be
long to tell, and reveal some strange incongruities. Not
the least of these would be the recollection of Captain Van
Alstine, Dr. Dougall, and the Macleans in their tight knee-
breeches and silver buckles " piling fallow," or dragging home
firewood to the shanties. Women reared in the midst of
elegance and luxury were soon reduced to the straits of wearing
the skins of wild animals for clothing ; and she were a happy
maid who could procure a calico dress for her bridal day.
Money even among the gentlemen living there was a commodity
scarcely ever seen, and many a shabby toiler turned away sor-
rowing from the bateau with its load of goods, because he could
not buy a shirt or a pair of breeches ; and many a mother
sighed as she saw, and could not purchase, a piece'of muslin that
would make a dress for baby. All these honest hearts have
long since ceased to beat ; and he who travels around the lovely
shores of Quinte* Bay in summer sees here and there a group
of grassy mounds shaded by cypress trees or the weeping
willow, where many of them lie buried. Among the Dutch
refugees the custom prevailed of selecting a family burial plot
upon the farm, and frequently the spot chosen was that where-
on the weary wanderers first rested upon their arrival, or put
up their tents.



PARENTAGE AND EARLY LIFE. 23

One of the loveliest situations on the bay was the Lake
of the Mountain. From the summit you see, and apparently
so near that you might toss a stone into it, the clear blue wa-
ters of the inlet. About a mile distant are the rich low-lying
lands of Adolphustown, with trim cottages and waving fields,
■and to the right over Ernesttown the Upper Gap, where the
still waters of the bay commingle with the boisterous waves
-of Lake Ontario. It was in these lovely wilds that the
future Canadian statesman was often seen with a number
of other lads, during his holidays, a fishing-rod in bis hand, at
one of the many streams that flowed into Quinte* Bay, but
many of which, stripped of the forest that then clothed their
hanks, have since run dry. We should have wondered less had
tin* music of the rushing streams, and the inspiration which
the |ad might have caught when the summer wind blew in
from the picturesque Lay, produced a poet instead of a states-
man.

The lot of the immigrant, even about the time of Mr. Mac-
donald's arrival in Canada, as Mrs. Moodie relates in her
delightful book, " Roughing it in the Bush," was by no means
so charming as the transatlantic pictures showed, with their
skaters and sleds in winter, and nought but plenty and wild
flowers in rammer; but above all, the hardships were most
keen to those who had been bred in easier ways, and who in
coming to the wilds of ( Sanada found themselves obliged to
adopt rude and hard m eas u res for an existence. Writing of the
immigration flow, Mrs. Moodie, who was of gentle birth her-
self, and had a highly cultivated and observant mind,
remarks: "A large number of the immigrants' were officers of the
army and navy, with their families — a class perfectly unfitted
by their previous habits and standing in society for contending



Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 1 of 57)