Archive for the ‘Mackenzie’ Category


Alexander Mackenzie was Canada’s 2nd Prime Minister (1873-1878)

1) Served as Finance minister of Ontario and as an Ottawa MP at the same time. Quebec and Ontario permitted dual representation from 1867 to 1872.

2) Offered a knighthood three times by Queen Victoria and turned it down each time. His working-class pride meant he was the only one of Canada’s first eight PMs who was never a Sir.

3) Failed to win a bid to build Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings for $801,000, losing to a bid that was several thousand dollars lower. The final price tag to build the seat of government ended up being more than $1.5 million.

4) Fell through the ice while walking across a stretch of Lake Ontario to visit his fiancée Helen Neil in Kingston. Arrived at her family’s home soaking wet.

5) Burned a stack of Tory campaign brochures he found sitting in a hotel hallway. The election materials boasted juicy titles like Black Record of the Grit Party. The gesture was out of character for the usually squeaky clean politician.

from Unknown and Unforgettable: A Guide to Canada’s Prime Ministers


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may241879: For the second time, former prime minister Alexander Mackenzie refuses a knighthood offered by Queen Victoria. And just in case you think he wasn’t serious about rejecting a peerage offered by Britain, he’ll turn down the offer a third time in two years.

Not all politicians feel the same about the honour. On this very same day, the ‘Sir’ designation is gratefully received by Charles Tupper, Minister of Railways & Canals. In 1895, he’ll become Prime Minister for two months.

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apr091874: The House of Commons votes to formally expel Louis Riel, the leader of the Red River temporary government of 1869-70 who has been in hiding since Canada took over. Despite his status, the people of Provencher riding voted him to Parliament — twice.

The censure vote was prompted by the fact that, just last week, he quietly entered the Parliament Buildings and signed the MPs’ roll then slipped away before being detected. Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie is not amused when Provencher re-elects Riel five months later for a third time.

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feb191877: Prayers are included in the House of Commons routine for the first time.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the initiative occurs during the government of Alexander Mackenzie, a devout Baptist. The Leader of the Opposition Sir John A. Macdonald, on the other hand, is an occasional Presbyterian – unless he attends church  with his Anglican wife Agnes.

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AbbottGraduating from  the University of McGill College in 1854 as a Bachelor of Civil Law, John Abbott later became the first Canadian Prime Minister with a university degree. He was typical of most of the country’s leaders who earned law degrees – 10 Prime Ministers in all.

Five PMs did not have a university degree (Macdonald, Mackenzie, Thompson, Bowell and Borden), while Mackenzie King had five.

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MackenzieNewspaper editors among past PMs were Alexander Mackenzie (Lambton Shield), Mackenzie Bowell (Belleville Intelligencer), Charles Tupper (British Colonist), and Wilfrid Laurier (Le Défricheur).

John A. Macdonald founded the Toronto Mail, William Lyon Mackenzie King edited the government’s Labour Gazette, Pierre Trudeau was heavily involved with Cité libre, Joe Clark wrote for the Albertan and various other publications, and John Turner edited his high school and university papers.

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As of today, only eight Prime Ministers have served longer than Stephen Harper as the country’s leader. He passed John Diefenbaker‘s record of 5 years, 10 months, 1 day in the role. Earlier this year he passed Lester Pearson, Alexander Mackenzie and then R.B. Bennett to reach the top 10 on the longevity list.

But the streak is over for the next few years. He won’t pass Louis St. Laurent‘s term of 8 years, 7 months, 6 days until 2014. Should he be looking to overtake William Lyon Mackenzie King, with his more than 21 years in power, it won’t happen until 2027. Of course, King did that in three separate terms of office. Harper could best Sir Wilfrid Laurier‘s record for the longest continuous term (15 years, 2 months, 25 days) in 2021.

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