Sir John A. Macdonald: Rare and intriguing treasures from the vaults of Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds Canada’s most comprehensive collection of material related to the life, times and continuing appeal of Sir John A. Macdonald (1815–1891)—charismatic firebrand, architect of Canadian Confederation and Canada’s first prime minister. The year 2015 will mark the bicentennial of Macdonald’s birth.

Take a look at our Flickr album to browse a selection of original documents, art and ephemera related to Macdonald, from historical and modern periods. Acquired over the years and from a variety of sources, these unique records document the public face, private life, and enduring power of one of Canada’s most iconic cultural figures.

This material represents only a small portion of Library and Archives Canada’s holdings related to significant Canadians and important events that will be showcased in the lead-up to the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017.

Journal recording the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald and preserving a lock of hair

By Hugh Macdonald, 1820. View of writing and human hair on the left side and marble endpaper on the right side of the journal. Library and Archives Canada, e008295645.

This is one of several personal items, dating back to childhood that Macdonald kept with him all his life. The curious discrepancy in Macdonald’s birthdate remains a historical puzzle: January 11th in this journal, but January 10th on the official record.

Caricature portrait by Sir John A. Macdonald’s “favourite” critic

By J. W. Bengough for Grip, 1887. Colour lithograph on wove paper. Library and Archives Canada, e010930930.

Sir John A. Macdonald is said to have remarked: “My friend, Bengough, possesses… perfect accuracy in portraying my countenance.” Library and Archives Canada holds hundreds of caricatures by John Wilson Bengough, a sharp critic of Macdonald and the founder of Grip, one of Canada’s earliest satiric magazines.

Label for “Canadian Tomato Chutnee” featuring Sir John A. Macdonald’s image and endorsement

By an unknown artist, late 19th century. Photomechanical print on wove paper. Library and Archives Canada, e008072633.

Over the years, many companies have drawn upon Sir John A. Macdonald’s recognizable image and popularity to sell products. This is only one example of this type of advertisement that can be found in Library and Archives Canada’s collection.

One thought on “Sir John A. Macdonald: Rare and intriguing treasures from the vaults of Library and Archives Canada

  1. Pingback: Genealogy News Bites – April 10, 2014 : Empty Nest Genealogy

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