Biography of MacDonald, John A. (John Alexander), 1815-1891
Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) was the first prime minister of Canada. He began his career in politics as an alderman in Kingston in 1843. In 1844 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada and in 1856 he became joint-premier. Macdonald played a leading role in developing the new Canadian federal system, which reflected his own belief in the importance of a strong central government. On July 1, 1867 he became prime minister of the new Dominion of Canada. In recognition of his services, he was knighted. During his first administration from 1867 to 1873, Canada expanded to include Manitoba, the North West Territories, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. He was forced to resign in 1873 because of the scandal surrounding the negotiations for the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Re-elected in 1878, he remained prime minister for the rest of his life. Macdonald’s time in office is remembered for the establishment of the National Policy, which was a system of protection for Canadian industries through high tariffs on imported manufactured goods and the completion of the transcontinental railway, which tied the vast country together.