It was on this day in 1867 that John A. Macdonald wins First Dominion election, becoming Canada’s first prime minister.
He defeated George Brown with 51.1 per cent of the popular vote.
Macdonald’s Conservatives won 108 seats to Liberal 72. Interestingly, balloting took place over 41 days.
He was Prime Minister of Canada (1867–1873, 1878–1891) and one of Canada’s Fathers of Confederation. The dominant figure of Canadian Confederation, he had a political career which spanned almost half a century. Macdonald served 19 years as Canadian Prime Minister; only William Lyon Mackenzie King served longer.
Macdonald was born in Scotland; when he was a boy his family immigrated to Kingston, Upper Canada (today in eastern Ontario). He articled with a local lawyer, who died before Macdonald qualified, and Macdonald opened his own practice, although not yet entitled to do so. He was involved in several high-profile cases and quickly became prominent in Kingston, which enabled him to seek and obtain a legislative seat in 1844. He served in the legislature of the colonial Province of Canada and by 1857 had become premier under the colony’s unstable political system.
When in 1864 no party proved capable of governing for long, Macdonald agreed to a proposal from his political rival, George Brown, that the parties unite in a Great Coalition to seek federation and political reform. Macdonald was the leading figure in the subsequent discussions and conferences, which resulted in the British North America Act and the birth of Canada as a nation on 1 July 1867.
Over the years Canada Post has featured Macdonald on several stamps as illustrated below, and Macdonald is prominently featured today on the Canadian $10 bill.