II-46604.2 | Sir John A. Macdonald, politician, Montreal, QC, 1877

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Sir John A. Macdonald, politician, Montreal, QC, 1877
Notman & Sandham
1877, 19th century
Silver salts on paper (glossy finish) - Gelatin silver process
15 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

The most famous Scot in the early history of the Canadian Pacific Railway, though not an officer of the company, was the inspiration behind the entire project. Sir John A. Macdonald, born in Glasgow in 1815, was brought to Canada at the age of five. Trained as a lawyer in Kingston, Ontario, he entered politics before his thirtieth birthday and remained active in political life from 1844 until his death in 1891. As leader of the opposition in the late 1870s, he formulated a "national policy" to win re-election and to push forward the development of the new Dominion of Canada. This policy involved the settlement of the Western prairies, the promotion of manufacturing in the east, and a trans-Canada railway to tie the country together. Becoming prime minister again in 1878, Macdonald quickly moved to charter the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

  • What

    This is a photograph of Sir John Alexander Macdonald, first prime minister of Canada, from 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 to 1891.

  • Where

    The photograph was taken in eastern Canada in 1877. Nine years after it was made, Macdonald and his wife travelled for the first time over the new railway to the Pacific Ocean.

  • When

    The photograph was taken in 1877, a year before Macdonald succeeded in becoming prime minister again.

  • Who

    Macdonald was the political force behind the construction of the CPR. Without his backing, and the government's timely financial assistance, the railway might not have been completed.