Tag Archives: John A. Macdonald

Happy Birthday Sir John A. Macdonald

Happy birthday to the Father of Confederation, our country’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Take a look at the By George Journal archive of posts on this storied man.

 

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10 Favourite Quotes of Sir John A. Macdonald

January 11th (Saturday) marks the birth date of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister and a Father of Confederation. Here are 10 of By George’s favourite quotes.

  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness and an utter abnegation of prejudice and personal feeling.
  • There were, unfortunately, no great principles on which parties were divided – politics became a mere struggle for office.
  • Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong.
  • There may be obstructions, local differences may intervene, but it matters not — the wheel is now revolving, and we are only the fly on the wheel, we cannot delay it. The union of the colonies of British America under one sovereign is a fixed fact.
  • I don’t care for office for the sake of money, but for the sake of power, and for the sake of carrying out my own views of what is best for the country.
  • When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ‘We are going to have a summer shower.’
  • If you would know the depth of meanness of human nature, you have got to be a Prime Minister running a general election.
  •  [Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his love of drink. He is known to have been drunk for many of his debates in Parliament. Here is a story from an election debate in which Macdonald was so drunk he began vomiting while on stage. His opponent quickly pointed this out.]  The opposing candidate said: “Is this the man you want running your country? A drunk!” Collecting himself, Macdonald replied “I get sick … not because of drink [but because] I am forced to listen to the ranting of my honourable opponent.”
  • My sins of omission and commission I do not deny; but I trust that it may be said of me in the ultimate issue, ‘Much is forgiven because he loved much,’ for I have loved my country with a passionate love.
  • If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.’

On Saturday, let’s all celebrate our country’s first Prime Minister’s birthday! Cheers to John A. Macdonald!

(Photo Credit:  National Archive)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Great Quotes of Sir John A. Macdonald

  • . . . one people, great in territory, great in resources, great in enterprise, great in credit, great in capital. [a 1860 speech summed up his lifelong political creed and political goals] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.’
  • God and nature made the two Canadas one—let no fractious men be allowed to put them asunder. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Let us be English or let us be French . . . and above all let us be Canadians. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Everyone admits that Union must take place sometime. I say now is the time. [At the Charlottetown Conference 1864] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • There may be obstructions, local differences may intervene, but it matters not — the wheel is now revolving, and we are only the fly on the wheel, we cannot delay it. The union of the colonies of British America under one sovereign is a fixed fact. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The statement that has been made so often that this is a conquered country is a propos de rien. Whether it was conquered or ceded, we have a constitution now under which all British subjects are in a position of absolute equality, having equal rights of every kind – of language, of religion, of property and of person. There is no paramount race in this country; we are all British subjects, and those who are not English are none the less British subjects on that account. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • My sins of omission and commission I do not deny; but I trust that it may be said of me in the ultimate issue, ‘Much is forgiven because he loved much,’ for I have loved my country with a passionate love. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • A public man should have no resentments. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • As for myself, my course is clear. A British subject I was born, a British subject I will die. With my utmost effort, with my latest breath, will I oppose the veiled treason which attempts by sordid means and mercenary proffers to lure our people from their allegiance. [on Canadian-American trade] – Sir John A Macdonald

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Canada’s Prime Ministers on Politics

Sir John A. Macdonald is Canada’s first Prime Minister

and a grand and colourful character whose accomplishments

helped forged a nation from sea to sea.

 

Over the course of the next two months, we will focus on providing quotes from our country’s Prime Ministers.

We begin with the quotes and quips of perhaps our greatest leader, Sir John A.:

  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness.
  • Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong.
  • An election is like a horse-race, in that you can tell more about it the next day. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • There were, unfortunately, no great principles on which parties were divided – politics became a mere struggle for office. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • If you would know the depth of meanness of human nature, you have got to be a Prime Minister running a general election. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness and an utter abnegation of prejudice and personal feeling. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Give me better wood and I will make you a better cabinet. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The time has come, I think, when we must choose men for their qualifications rather than for their locality. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • We are all mere petty provincial politicians at present; perhaps by and by some of us will rise to the level of national statesmen. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The Government are merely trustees for the public. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • I don’t care for office for the sake of money, but for the sake of power, and for the safe of carrying out my own views of what is best for the country. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Even if all the territory Mr. Mowat asks for were awarded to Ontario, there is not one stick of timber, one acre of land, or one lump of lead, iron or gold that does not belong to the Dominion, or to the people who purchased from the Dominion Government. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Had I but consented to take the popular side in Upper Canada, I could have ridden the Protestant horse much better than George Brown, and could have had an overwhelming majority. But I willingly sacrificed my own popularity for the good of the country, and did equal justice to all men. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • He shall hang though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour. [referring to Louis Riel] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • I have no accord with the desire expressed in some quarters that by any mode whatever there should be an attempt made to oppress the one language or to render it inferior to the other – I believe that would be impossible if it were tried, and it would be foolish and wicked if it were possible. – Sir John A. Macdonald
  • I would be quite willing, personally, to leave that whole country a wilderness for the next half-century but I fear if Englishmen do not go there, Yankees will. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • But if it should happen that we should be absorbed in the United States, the name of Canada would be literally forgotten; we should have the State of Ontario, the State of Quebec, the State of Nova Scotia and State of New Brunswick. Every one of the provinces would be a state, but where is the grand, the glorious name of Canada? All I can say is that not with me, or not by the action of my friends, or not by the action of the people of Canada, will such a disaster come upon us. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • If Canada is to remain a country separate from the United States it is of great importance to her that they (the United States) should not get behind us by right or by force, and intercept the route to the Pacific. But in any other point of view, it seems to me that the country is of no present value to Canada. We have unoccupied land enough to absorb immigration for many years, and the opening up of the Saskatchewan would do to Canada what the Prairie lands of Illinois are doing now – drain away our youth and our strength. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • The word ‘protection’ itself must be taboo, but we can ring the changes on National Policy, paying the U.S. in their own coin. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • There is no maxim which experience teaches more clearly than this, that you must yield to the times. Resistance may be protracted until it produces revolution. Resistance was protracted in this country until it produced rebellion. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ‘We are going to have a summer shower.’ – Sir John A Macdonald
  • I am afraid I shall have to give you the answer of the Irish servant who got into a place where the food was not as it should be – ‘there’s too much to swallow and too little to eat’. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • A compliment is the statement of an agreeable truth; flattery is the statement of an agreeable untruth. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • Never write a letter if you can help it, and never destroy one. – Sir John A Macdonald
  • A sweet smile from the teeth outwards. [referring to John Abbott] – Sir John A Macdonald
  • When a man has done me an evil turn once, I don’t like to give him the opportunity to do so twice. – Sir John A Macdonald
  •  [Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his alcoholism. He is known to have been drunk for many of his debates in parliament. Here is a story from an election debate in which Macdonald was so drunk he began vomiting while on stage.]  His opponent quickly pointed this out and said: “Is this the man you want running your country? A drunk!” Collecting himself, Macdonald replied “I get sick … not because of drink [but because] I am forced to listen to the ranting of my honourable opponent.” – Sir John A Macdonald

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Celebrating Sir John A.

Upon Sir John A. Macdonald’s death, (the soon-to-be Prime Minister) Wilfred Laurier paid tribute to him in the House of Commons (June 8, 1891):

“The place of Sir John A. Macdonald in this country was so large and so absorbing that it is almost impossible to conceive that the politics of this country – the fate of this country – will continue without him. His loss overwhelms us. For my part, I say, with all truth, his loss overwhelms me, and that it also overwhelms this Parliament, as if indeed one of the institutions of the land had given way. Sir John A. Macdonald now belongs to the ages, and it can be said with certainty that the career which has just been closed is one of the most remarkable careers of this century. . .

“As to his statesmanship, it is written in the history of Canada. It may be said without any exaggeration whatever, that the life of Sir John Macdonald, from the time he entered Parliament, is the history of Canada.”

And, so that you may discuss this great man at your next social, here are some interesting trivia most may not know about Sir John A.

  • While there is some debate over his actual birthdate, January 10 is the official date recorded and January 11 is the day Macdonald celebrated it.
  • Having personally written the largest part of the Canadian constitution ( BNA act ), and having been the main lobbyist for its adoption at London, Macdonald can truly be called “THE Father of his country.”
  • According to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, Macdonald’s nicknames included Old Chieftain and Old Tomorrow – the latter for his habit of putting off any large political problems until conditions were personally favourable to him.
  • Sir John A.Macdonald is one of two Canadian prime-ministers to die in office (The other is John Thompson).
  • Macdonald’s nephew Newton Ford was the father of iconic Canadian-American actor Glenn Ford

Quotable quotes of Sir John A.

Here are but a few more memorable quotes to celebrate this great man’s life and accomplishments of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.

  • If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.’ God and nature made the two Canadas one—let no fractious men be allowed to put them asunder.
  • [An 1860 speech summed up his lifelong political creed and political goals] “. . . one people, great in territory, great in resources, great in enterprise, great in credit, great in capital.”
  • Let us be English or let us be French . . . and above all let us be Canadians.
  • Everyone admits that Union must take place sometime. I say now is the time. [At the Charlottetown Conference 1864]
  • Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong.
  • My sins of omission and commission I do not deny; but I trust that it may be said of me in the ultimate issue, ‘Much is forgiven because he loved much,’ for I have loved my country with a passionate love.
  • As for myself, my course is clear. A British subject I was born, a British subject I will die. With my utmost effort, with my latest breath, will I oppose the veiled treason which attempts by sordid means and mercenary proffers to lure our people from their allegiance. [on Canadian-American trade]
  • Politics is a game requiring great coolness.
  • The Government are merely trustees for the public.
  • I don’t care for office for the sake of money, but for the sake of power, and for the safe of carrying out my own views of what is best for the country.
  • When a man has done me an evil turn once, I don’t like to give him the opportunity to do so twice.
  • When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ‘We are going to have a summer shower.’
  • An election is like a horse-race, in that you can tell more about it the next day.
  • A compliment is the statement of an agreeable truth; flattery is the statement of an agreeable untruth.
  • [Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his alcoholism. He is known to have been drunk for many of his debates in parliament. Here is a story from an election debate in which Macdonald was so drunk he began vomiting while on stage.] His opponent quickly pointed this out and said: “Is this the man you want running your country? A drunk!” Collecting himself, Macdonald replied “I get sick … not because of drink [but because] I am forced to listen to the ranting of my honourable opponent.”

And a very happy birthday Sir John A.!

Happy Birthday Sir John A. Macdonald!

   

“If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.”

Happy Birthday Sir John A.! We certainly miss your national vision and your leadership today. For more, click here to see the By George archived articles on this great man.

 

 

Happy Sir John A. Day!

John_A_MacdonaldThis January 11, 2015 marks a special anniversary for our country: the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Since 2002, this day is set aside for Canadians to remember their first Prime Minister, one of the Fathers of Confederation. So it is fitting to that we take this occasion to highlight a few interesting facts and celebrate the man.

Through the years, By George has lamented the ignored legacy of Sir John A in many of our posts (and we have tagged “John A. Macdonald“). We have compiled lists of his quotes and a few years back featured our 10 favourite quotes.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir John A., Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote a stirring piece that commemorates our first PM. PM Harper writes:

Others had ruminated about Confederation but only he saw how to get it done — how to make the case for unity, how to rally common hopes and fears, how to overcome different perspectives and interests.

But Macdonald did more than achieve it; he made it work…. Of the greatest importance for all of us, perhaps, was that Macdonald appropriated from the British constitution its conception of freedom, of “ordered liberty,” of the balancing of popular rule and minority rights, of (in the terms of the era) equality before the law and governments responsible through the legislature to the voters.

Richard Gwyn, the celebrated biographer of John Macdonald wrote in the Toronto Star a column trumpeting: “Sir John A. Macdonald, the greatest PM of all”

Gwyn makes the point that “had there been no Macdonald, there would be no Canada for anyone to be a citizen of.”

Under Macdonald’s leadership as prime minister (1867-1873 and 1878-1891), the country was extended from sea to sea, giving — at last — it a certain geographical coherence. Macdonald also led Canada to achieve the National Dream, a railway the entire way from eastern Canada to the West Coast. The railway, together with Macdonald’s policy of high tariffs to protect Canadian companies from their far more efficient American rivals, made it possible for Canadians to do business with and get to know each other despite all their differences (French vs. English, Catholic vs. Protestant, Aboriginal vs. European) and the immense distances between them.

By other initiatives, Macdonald fashioned a distinctive Canadian way of getting things done that has stayed with us ever since.

In a National Post article noting the significance of this day, Bob Plamondon, respected political observer and author, makes the perceptive comment:
Macdonald’s greatest gift to us, then as now, was to show us how we can be stronger as a nation when we celebrate and respect our diversity.

All of this is by way of hanging our collective heads with the discouraging fact that Canadians really do not know enough about Macdonald and his legacy. On Canada.com, there is a telling release this week: Poll conducted ahead of the 200th anniversary of Macdonald’s birth

One in four Canadians can’t identify Sir John A. Macdonald as the first prime minister of Canada, according to a new poll commissioned by Historica Canada.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid, shows Canadians don’t know their history as well as Historica would hope. Twenty-eight per cent of Canadians don’t know the year of confederation, and 44 per cent don’t know Canada turns 150 years old in 2017.

So, today, take a moment and share a story or two about our first Prime Minister. Talk about him. Toast his legacy. Canada is very much a living testament to Sir John A. Macdonald’s vision and efforts. It is so important that more Canadians appreciate this fact.

Our lament for the accomplished life of Sir John A. Macdonald

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister. By George celebrates this great man, lamenting his political acumen and leadership, the skills of which our Nation has seldom seen since.  

 

Sir John A. ‘s life work was the building of the Canadian nation. Without this man’s effort, likely there would not be the country Canada.  

 

His accomplishments are many:

  • As a Father of Confederation, he forged the deal that would have the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick come together in 1867.
  • As Prime Minister, he then brought British Columbia, PEI, and the great North West Territories into the Canada.
  • He created a transcontinental railway, tying all provinces from east to west with a ribbon of steel.
  • As a masterful politician, Macdonald defended the new country against the aggression of the United States, rose to the challenge of the Northwest rebellion, and kept balanced the competing interests of the French and English.

 

There is little question as to why historians have named John Macdonald “Canada’s best Prime Minister.” There have been Prime Ministers, who have done great deeds; but none who have strung together such an illustrious career of significant events. Our country has had its share of charismatic political leaders; yet none have been as accomplished on the hustings and in the backrooms as Macdonald. Our first Prime Minister is well deserving of accolades and of a lament for Canadians may never see his likes again.

 

On this day, we should take a moment to remember Sir John A. Macdonald and our fortune to be residing in his living legacy of Canada.   

Lamenting Sir John A. Macdonald

Happy Birthday Sir John A. Macdonald!  Today, Canada’s first Prime Minister would be 198 years young.

Favourite Photos of Sir John A.

Favourite Quotes from the master politician

To mark this day, By George Journal is encouraging you to a moment and think of John Macdonald. Canadians should not forget this man and his deeds as they fostered the spirit necessary to forge what is one of the greatest examples of nationhood in our modern-day world.

 

By George salutes the man on his birthday:  Cheers Sir John A.!