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Sir John A. Macdonald
Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, had worked hard to bring the country together. He dreamed of a nation stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean—and he made his dream come true.
From Scotland to Canada
Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1815. When he was just five years old, his family moved to Upper Canada, known today as Ontario. Macdonald became a lawyer when he grew up. People liked him because he had a good sense of humour and a remarkable ability to remember their names.
Life in Politics
In 1843, Macdonald entered politics. By the 1860s, the colonies (now provinces) in what is today Canada knew it was time for change. The United States was threatening to take them over. As well, the colonies were not growing and developing. One reason was because transportation between the colonies was not very good.
The colonies began to think about banding together to become more successful and stronger. Macdonald thought this was a very good idea. He worked hard to make people see how important it was for the colonies to become one country. Macdonald and the other 35 men involved in the union became known as the Fathers of Confederation.
On July 1, 1867, the new country of Canada was formed. It consisted of only the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec (formerly Lower Canada). But Macdonald was convinced it could grow and prosper. Because he had worked so hard to bring about Confederation, Macdonald was named the new country’s first prime minister.
As time went by, more of the colonies joined Canada and the country kept growing. For example, British Columbia joined in 1871, after Macdonald promised to build a railway to the Pacific to link the country.
In 1885, the railway was completed. The next year, Macdonald and his wife, Lady Agnes, rode the train to the Pacific. When they rode through Kicking Horse Pass in British Columbia, the couple sat out on the front of the train! Macdonald was 71 years old at the time.
Parks and Mounties
Macdonald brought many other changes to Canada. In 1873, he set up the North-West Mounted Police, which would later become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In 1885, he also set up the country’s first national park in Banff, Alberta.
Macdonald died in 1891. He was prime minister of Canada for 19 years. Only one other prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, has been prime minister longer.
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1. Who was Sir John A. Macdonald?CorrectIncorrect
2. What did Sir john A. Macdonald dream of?CorrectIncorrect
3. What was one reason the colonies of Canada were not growing and developing?CorrectIncorrect
4. Match the event to the year that it happened.
Macdonald entered politics
the new country of Canada was formed
the railway was completed and the country’s first national park was set up
5. True or false? When the new country of Canada was formed it consisted of all the provinces and territories that exist today.CorrectIncorrect
6. Make a list of interview questions you would ask Sir John A. Macdonald.
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