The Right Honourable
Alexander Mackenzie

1873-1878
Liberal

"I have always held those political opinions which point to the universal brotherhood of man, no matter in what rank of life he may have taken his origin." Alexander Mackenzie, 1875.


Private Life
  • Born: January 28, 1822 at Logierait, Scotland.
    • Emigrated to Canada 1842.
  • Education: Public school at Perth, Moulin, and Dunkeld, Scotland.
  • Stonemason and building contractor.
    • Built bomb-proof stone arch at Fort Henry in Kingston and worked on the Beauharnois Canal near Montreal.
    • Many of his constructions still stand today:
      • Welland Canal
      • Martello Towers at Fort Henry
      • Episcopal Church and a bank in Sarnia
      • Courthouses and jails in Chatham and Sandwich

    Did You Know?

    As a young man, Alexander Mackenzie worked one winter on Wolfe Island near Kingston, Ontario, cutting stone. Each Saturday night, he crossed the ice to visit his future wife, Helen, in Kingston. He nearly drowned one night when he fell through the ice, but continued his weekly visits, carrying a pole with him to help him extract himself should he fall through the ice again.

  • 1852-1854, editor of the Lambton Shield. (Reform party, forerunner of the Liberal Party)
  • 1866-1874, Major of the 27'th Lambton Volunteer Infantry.
  • Marriage: Helen Neil (1826-1852) in 1845.
    • One daughter born. (Two other children died in infancy.)
  • Re-Marriage: Jane Sym (1825-1893) in 1853.
  • Died: April 17, 1892, in Toronto, Ontario, of a stroke. Buried in Lakeview Cemetery, near Sarnia, Ontario.

Political Career

Did You Know?

As Prime Minister, Mackenzie once toured Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, and asked his soldier escort if he knew the depth of the wall beside them. The young man said that he did not. Mackenzie replied, "I do. It's five feet, ten inches. I know, because I built it myself!"

  • Liberal Party Leader, 1873-1880
  • Constituencies: Lambton, Ontario, 1867-1882; York East, Ontario, 1882-1892
  • Minister of Public Works, 1873-1878 during which time he oversaw the completion of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
  • Liberals uncovered and released evidence of bribery involving the Conservatives and contractors engaged in building the Pacific Railway.
    • Sir John A. MacDonald forced to resign in 1873 after the scandal ensued.
  • Liberals took over and Mackenzie won the election in January, 1874.
    • Reformed the electorial system and introduced the 'secret ballot', 1874.
    • Founded the Royal Military College, 1874.
    • Established the Supreme Court of Canada, 1875.
    • Completed the Intercolonial Railway and began the Pacific Line.
    • Created the Office of the Auditor General, 1878

    Did You Know?

    Mackenzie oversaw the completion of the Parliament Bulidings in Ottawa and had a secret and private escape route from his office - a spiral staircase - that opened onto an opposite street, thereby avoiding the crowds of people at the front.

  • Recession in mid-1870's, blamed on the Liberals, caused Mackenzie to lose the 1878 election.
  • Leader of the Opposition, 1878-1880.
  • Refused Knighthood 3 times due to his pride in his 'working class origins'.
  • Remained in Parliament until his death in 1892.

*(Progressive) Conservative *Liberal *Unionist/Conservative

* Macdonald * Mackenzie * Abbott * Thompson * Bowell
* Tupper * Laurier * Borden * Meighen * King
* Bennett * St. Laurent * Diefenbaker * Pearson * Trudeau
* Clark * Turner * Mulroney * Campbell * Chrétien

Canadiana