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Remembering Sir John A. Macdonald

The Story


Sir John A. Macdonald's gravesite at Cataraqui Cemetery near Kingston, Ont., is one of simple dignity, describes CBC's John Bermingham in this radio clip. There are no elaborate tributes or statues at the burial site of Canada's first prime minister. Only a simple granite cross marks the resting place of one of Canada's founding fathers. After a life devoted to changing the political landscape of this country, Sir John A. Macdonald died from a severe stroke on June 6, 1891, at Earnscliffe, his family home in Ottawa. He was 76.

Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: Aug. 15, 1957
Reporter: John Bermingham
Duration: 3:46

Did You know?


• According to his wish, Sir John A. Macdonald was buried next to his parents, his siblings, his first wife and his oldest son, John, in a family plot near Kingston.
• Macdonald was prime minister of Canada from July 1, 1867, to Nov. 5 1873, and from Oct. 17, 1878, until his death in office in 1891.
• Earnscliffe, Macdonald's grey stone Victorian home, was declared a national historic site in 1961.

• At the news of Macdonald's death, newspapers printed special editions reporting the prime minister's last hours. Flags flew at half-mast across the country.
• At Macdonald's death, future prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier mourned that: "the place of Sir John A. Macdonald in this country was so large and so absorbing that it is almost impossible to conceive that the political life of this country will continue without him."

• In Prime Ministers: Ranking Canada's Leaders, Sir John A. Macdonald placed second; after Mackenzie King and ahead of Wilfrid Laurier. He was recognized for his strong national vision and his ability to balance differences of region, religion, class and profession.


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