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John A. MacDonald

1815 - 1891

First Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 to1891. Scottish-born lawyer MacDonald was first elected as an alderman (1843) in Kingston in what is now Ontario. He became its Conservative representative in the legislature of the Province of Canada, and worked through the 1850's and 1860's to pull together support for Confederation. Eventually helped by external factors such as the American Civil War and aggressive American foreign policy, MacDonald was able to win agreement from five provinces and from his political opponents for joining under his British North America Act, and Canada was formed. He strengthened the union by championing construction of a coast-to-coast railroad and winning some autonomy from Britain in foreign affairs.


Canada is a hard country to govern.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
... our aim should be to enlarge the bounds of our party so as to embrace every person desirous of being counted as a progressive Conservative, and who will join in a series of measures to put an end to the corruption which has ruined the present government and debauched its followers.

1864 - quoted in The Conservative Party, by Heath Macquarrie, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965
When fortune empties her chamberpot on your head, smile and say, 'we are going to have a summer shower.'

1874
I do not say that all Grits are horse thieves, but I feel quite sure that all horse thieves are Grits.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo