Macdonald, Sir John Alexander
great coalitionministry (1864–67), which paved the way for the union of the British North American provinces. Macdonald was the most potent figure in bringing about confederation (1867) of the provinces as the Dominion of Canada. His policy as prime minister was dominated by the vigorous attempt to build Canada. Believing that the dominion's prosperity required strong bonds with England, he worked throughout his career to that end. The Northwest Territories were taken over from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1869; to facilitate their development, Macdonald's government decided to construct the Canadian Pacific Railway. His personal popularity was not enough when the Pacific scandal, which involved the railroad, broke (1873), and the government resigned. Changing industrial conditions made Macdonald the advocate of a protectionist policy (known as the National Policy), and he was returned as prime minister in 1878 and served until his death. The transcontinental railroad was completed (1885), and other public works were accomplished. Macdonald was knighted in 1867.
See his correspondence, ed. by J. Pope (1921); biographies by his nephew, J. P. Macpherson (2 vol., 1891) and D. G. Creighton (1952 and 1956); study by D. Swainson (1971).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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