Alexander Mackenzie

1822 – 1892
Canada’s Stonemason

Alexander MackenzieThe Right Honourable Alexander Mackenzie was born on January 28, 1822 at Logierait near Dunkeld. He emigrated to Canada in 1842 for love, following Helen Neil whom he married in 1845. He became a successful stonemason, building contractor, and served as editor of the Lambton Shield, before entering politics in 1867.

Alexander Mackenzie became head of the Liberal Party in 1873 and later that year became Prime Minister following the fall of the Conservatives after the Pacific Railway Scandal.

Alexander Mackenzie was a quiet, honest, methodical man who was never able to capture the imagination of the public as was his rival Sir John A. MacDonald. But it was these traits which enabled Alexander Mackenzie to leave a great legacy in the Canadian Institutions he was to create and implement:

  • The Secret Ballot
  • The Royal Military College
  • The Supreme Court of Canada
  • The Office of the Auditor-General

Sir James Douglas

1803 – 1877
Governor of British Columbia

Sir James DouglasSir James Douglas was born June 30, 1803 in Demerara, British Guiana, the son of a Scottish Merchant and a “Creole Woman” whose identity remains unknown. Sir James was sent to Lanark, Scotland to receive his education following which his restless spirit saw him set sail for Canada on May 7, 1819 as a new employee of the North West Company.

Sir James served with the North West Company in several locations including Fort Vancouver on the Oregon coast. In 1842 he established a Trading Depot at Victoria, which would serve the Hudson’s Bay Company and ensure British control of Vancouver Island and the Fraser River Estuary. In 1851 he was named Governor of the colony of Vancouver Island, in 1858 he instigated the establishment of British Columbia and ensure the dominance of British Justice and control on the B.C. mainland in the tide of an influx of American Miners during the Caribou Gold Rush.

Sir James Douglas, dedicated to the well being of British Columbia leaves his own epitaph; “I ask for no prouder monument, and for no other memorial, when I die and go, than the testimony here offered, that I have done my duty”.

Alexander Graham Bell

1847 – 1922
Inventor and Entrepreneur

Alexander Graham BellAlexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, the son of a teacher. Having emigrated to Canada and later the USA, Bell invented the telephone in 1876. He realized the potential of his invention in terms of mass communication and through the formation the Bell Telephone Company became a very wealthy man. This company grew into a telecommunications monopoly in North America. In 1984, it was broken up by the US Department of Justice into the national and international carrier AT&T, together with the seven ‘baby bells’. Today AT&T provides services around the world, has annual revenues greater than $62 billion and 160,000 employees.

Bell spent much time researching improved methods of communication for the deaf, and married one of his deaf students in 1877. Bell also became interest in flight in his later years. He built biplanes which flew the first public flight in USA (1908), designed a hydrofoil which captured the world water speed record (1918) and invented a type of kite. He also designed the ‘photophone’ that could transmit speech using a light beam. Although not successful in itself, this device anticipated modern optical-fibre communications.

Sir Sanford Fleming

1827 – 1915
Father of Standard Time

Sir Sanford FlemingSir Sandford Fleming was born January 7, 1827 in Kirkaldy, Fife. At the age of 18, following his education as a surveyor and draftsman he emigrated to Ontario settling in Toronto. It is reported that his transatlantic voyage was so rough he and his brother wrote a farwell letter to their parents, enclosed it in a bottle, and tossed it overboard.

Sir Sanford drew the first maps of the Ontario cities of Peterborough, Cobourg, Newcastle, and Colborne. His greatest achievement as a surveyor was his work on the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Sir Sanford Fleming is most remembered for his establishment of the Standard Time System. He developed the idea of dividing the world into twenty-four zones of 16 degrees of longitude with the clocks in each zone all showing the same time. For his work in this field he received his knighthood.

In addition to this major accomplishment he also founded the Royal Canadian Institute, designed the first Canadian Postage Stamp, and served for thirty-five years as the Chancellor of Queen’s University.

George Brown

1818 – 1880
Politician and Founding Father of Canada

George BrownPolitician and founding father of Canada, born and Educated in Edinburgh. As an Ontario politician, he favoured a federation of the British Colonies in North American and spoke against the French Canadians, developing the deep divisions that persist today.

In 1864, George Brown proposed the Great Coalition to John A. MacDonald and George – Etienne Cartier, and went on to play a major role at the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences. He resigned from the coalition in 1865.

George brown was the founder and editor of the “Toronto Globe”. In 1880, a disappointed and frustrated former employee of the Globe shot him in a scuffle at the paper’s Toronto offices. The injury to his leg seemed minor enough at first, but an infection developed and subsequently took his life.

Sir John A. Macdonald

1815 – 1891
First Prime Minister of Canada

John A. MacdonaldBorn January 11, 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland and immigrated to Canada with his family in July 1820, settling in Kingston, Ontario. He studied law in Kingston and was admitted to the Bar on February 6, 1836.

Sir John won his first election in 1843 when he was elected to the Kingston Town Council. The following year he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Kingston. On November 26, 1857 he became the Prime Minister of the Province of Canada (present day Ontario) and utilized this position to promote the Confederation of the British Territories in North America. He chaired the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864 and the London Conference in 1866, which lead to the formation of Canada. For these efforts he was knighted on the day of Canada’s birth July 1, 1867 as he assumed the position of Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Sir John A. MacDonald is acknowledged as The Father of Confederation, the single greatest influence in the construction of the transcontinental railway, and Canada’s premier political figure. He was an active member of the St. Andrews and Caledonia Society of Kingston, and in his own words, “a Piper of modest talent”.