PM Marks Bicentennial of Sir John Alexander Macdonald’s Birth

Canada’s First Prime Minister honoured with restored portrait and bicentennial stamp and coin at special ceremony

20150111_mdp_e1_02Kingston, Ontario – Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the City of Kingston, Ontario, (on January 11th) to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald and to pay tribute to the important role he played as one of Canada’s founding fathers and as Canada’s first Prime Minister. During the ceremony, which was held in the Memorial Hall of Kingston City Hall, the city unveiled a restored portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald along with a special bicentennial stamp from Canada Post and a coin from the Royal Canadian Mint. The Prime Minister was joined by former Prime Ministers Kim Campbell and John Turner, Bryan Paterson, Mayor of the City of Kingston, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, and Gord Brown, Member of Parliament for Leeds–Grenville.

Born two hundred years ago on January 11, 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland, Sir John A. Macdonald played a key role in shaping Canada’s history. He was instrumental, along with Sir George-Étienne Cartier, in the negotiations that led to Canada’s Confederation and later in expanding our country to the Pacific Ocean. They are two of the 36 Fathers of Confederation who met to share their vision on union and, ultimately, to forge a new country. During his years as Prime Minister, Canada experienced rapid growth and prosperity. Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island all entered Confederation between 1870 and 1873, while the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s transcontinental line was driven into the ground in 1885. Sir John A. Macdonald established the North-West Mounted Police, the precursor to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the first Canadian national park in Banff, Alberta.

The bicentennial of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald is one of a number of nation-building milestones the Government of Canada is commemorating in the lead up to Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. Each of these milestones represents an opportunity to celebrate the events that have shaped our history and made Canada what it is today.

Quick Facts

  • The City of Kingston is launching the Sir John A. Macdonald 200th anniversary year of celebration on January 11, 2015. Sir John A. Macdonald had a life-long connection with the city as a child, student, member of the militia, lawyer, businessman, alderman, Member of Parliament and community member.
  • The portrait was presented to John A. Macdonald in 1863 and shows the self-assured young Macdonald standing in a classic pose typical of formal full-length portraits fashionable at the time.
  • At all three conferences that led to Canada’s Confederation (Charlottetown and Quebec in 1864 and London in 1866), Sir John A. Macdonald was a strong advocate for a federation of provinces and was one of the main architects of the new constitutional structure, uniting colonies of British North America into one Dominion on July 1, 1867.
  • In recognition of his role in Confederation, John A. Macdonald was named Canada’s first Prime Minister, a position that he held for almost 19 years from 1867 to 1873 and again from 1878 to 1891.


“I was pleased to be in Kingston, Ontario, today to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald and to pay tribute to the vital role he played as one of Canada’s founding fathers and as Canada’s first Prime Minister. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the magnificent country he helped create, our Government is proud to celebrate many of the actions that Sir John A. Macdonald took to make our country great. I encourage Canadians to learn more about this remarkable Canadian and to reflect on all that he contributed to make Canada a country that today serves as a model for the world.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

“Sir John A. Macdonald is one of Canada’s most important political and historical figures. His accomplishments are cemented in our country’s history. Our Government is committed to protecting and preserving his legacy of patriotism and his dedication to Canada.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper