1 WHILE many Glaswegians may not know the name, Canadians are very aware of Sir John Macdonald. He was the first prime minister of the Dominion of Canada from 1857-1878 and was known for leading the country through its period of early growth.

2 Born in Ramshorn Parish in Glasgow in 1815, John’s father was an unsuccessful merchant. After his father’s business ventures left the family in debt, they immigrated to Kingston in Canada to join other relatives.

3 John’s parents decided that he should become a lawyer after leaving school, as it was known as a ‘well-trodden path to comfort, influence, even to power’ according to John’s biographer, Donald Creighton. Under pressure to earn money quickly to support his family, John complained in adulthood that he had ‘no boyhood’ because ‘from the age of 15, I began to earn my own living.’

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4 Called to the bar in 1836, John was elected to the assembly of the Province of Canada as a Conservative in 1844 after the British parliament united the previously separated districts of Canada. John worked towards the unification of Canada and the strengthening its ties to Britain, and was elected as the prime minister in 1857.

5 Under John’s leadership, Canada quickly grew to include different provinces including Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Although John was forced to resign after the Pacific Scandal of 1873, where his government was accused of taking bribes in regard to the Pacific railway contract, he returned as prime minister five years later and served until his death in 1891. During his final years as prime minister, John helped complete the Pacific railway and dealt with the rebellion in the northwest.