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July221950: Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, 75, died in the farmhouse at his Kingsmere summer residence shortly before 10 p.m. King’s death had a paranormal twist, much like aspects of his life.

“It was lovely evening,” his steady companion Joan Patterson told a friend. “but at the moment he died thunder and lightning and torrents of rain came without warning … the rain fell only at Kingsmere — not Ottawa even.”

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July81896: Although the Conservatives clearly lost the election on June 23, 117 to 86 seats against Wilfrid Laurier‘s Liberal party, Prime Minister Sir Charles Tupper has been clinging to power ever since. He has been determined to get approval for a few initiatives before stepping down, namely a new steamship line and raft of patronage appointments.

Governor General Lord Aberdeen, who dislikes Tupper, refuses to grant his wishes. So, Tupper spent his 75th birthday two days ago arguing his case one last time before the Queen’s representative. No go. Aberdeen has finally been able to force Tupper’s resignation as Canada’s sixth and briefest Prime Minister.

July61885: The government of Sir John A. Macdonald passes the Dominion Franchise Act, moving the criteria for voting eligibility from the provinces to Ottawa. As a result, some groups who have had the vote in parts of the country – widows, spinsters and some indigenous groups – lose it.

Concern about letting indigenous peoples vote was heightened by the recent Northwest Rebellion in western Canada. The influence of British Columbia also ensured that ‘Asiatics’ and ‘Chinamen’ would be excluded. Many, but not enough, MPs were in favour of expanding voter eligibility. Macdonald was for the idea, but  unwilling to push for it. Opposition Leader Wilfrid Laurier objected to opening it up. In 1898, responsibility for eligibility will return to the provinces.

July41873: Several Canadian newspapers publish a telegram sent by Sir John A. Macdonald during last year’s election campaign to CPR solicitor (and future Prime Minister) John Abbott begging for more campaign funds. “I must have another ten thousand,” urged Macdonald. “Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me.”

It isn’t a plea that can be misconstrued and turns out to be the smoking gun the Liberals have been looking for since the Pacific Scandal broke three months ago. The pressure will build and by year’s end Macdonald will avoid a non-confidence vote by resigning — the only Prime Minister ever to do so.

July11983: The first Canada Day is celebrated on Parliament Hill with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau there as an observer with his three sons including Justin Trudeau. The holiday was renamed Canada Day in legislation passed October 27, 1982.

Although Canada’s birthday was often observed municipally in the early years, it didn’t become a statutory holiday with the name Dominion Day until 1879. Even then, it didn’t get much official support except for major milestones like the 50th and 60th anniversaries. A private member’s bill in 1946 attempted to rename it to Canada Day, but died in the Senate. It wasn’t until 1958 that an official celebration — this one attended by John Diefenbaker — became an annual ritual.

MacdonaldIn 2004, three of Canada’s Prime Ministers made the 50 Most Important Leaders in History listed in the annual National Geographic Almanac of World History. Quite an achievement in a list that starts with the mythological first Chinese Emperor Fuxi (anywhere from 29,000 BCE to 12,000 BCE) and ends with South Africa’s Nelson Mandella.

The three Canadian leaders: Sir John A. Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie King and — are you ready? — Kim Campbell. See the whole list here.

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.