Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for November 7th!
Could a simple stonemason from Scotland ever become the Prime Minister of Canada?
It could happen…and it did! Alexander Mackenzie became the 2nd Prime Minister of Canada on November 7th, 1883. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the career of Alexander Mackenzie.
Mackenzie refused the offer of a knighthood three times, and was thus the only one of Canada’s first eight Prime Ministers not to be knighted. His pride in his working class origins never left him.
This Canadian History for Kids article begins when he was born in Logierait, Perthshire, Scotland. At the age of 13, Mackenzie’s father died, and he was forced to end his formal education in order to help support his family. At the age of 16 he apprenticed as a stonemason and by the age of 20 he had reached journeyman status in this field.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues when Mackenzie immigrated to Canada in 1842 to seek a better life as well as to follow his sweetheart, Helen Neil. Mackenzie continued his career as a stonemason, building many structures that still stand today. He began working as a general contractor, earning a reputation for being a hard working, honest man as well as having a working man’s view on economics.
Mackenzie involved himself in politics almost from the moment he arrived in Canada. He campaigned relentlessly for George Brown, owner of the Reformist paper The Globe. Mackenzie was elected to the Legislative Assembly as a supporter of George Brown in 1861.
When the Macdonald government fell due to the Pacific Scandal in 1873, the Governor General, Lord Dufferin, called upon Mackenzie, who had been chosen as the leader of the Liberal Party a few months earlier, to form a new government. Mackenzie formed a government and remained prime minister until the 1878 election when Macdonald’s Conservatives returned to power with a majority government.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues when, after his government’s defeat, Mackenzie remained Leader of the Opposition for another two years, until 1880. He remained an MP until his death in 1892 from a stroke that resulted from hitting his head during a fall. He died in Toronto and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Sarnia, Ontario.
As Prime Minister, Alexander Mackenzie strove to reform and simplify the machinery of government. He introduced the secret ballot; advised the creation of the Supreme Court of Canada; the establishment of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston in 1874; the creation of the Office of the Auditor General in 1878; and struggled to continue progress on the national railway.
And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.