Alexander Mackenzie

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Alexander Mackenzie, PC (January 28, 1822April 17, 1892), was a building contractor and newspaper editor, and was the second Prime Minister of Canada, from November 7, 1873 to October 8, 1878.


Alexander Mackenzie
  • 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.
    • (1875).
  • We shall all respect the principles of each other and do nothing that would be regarded as an act of oppression to any portion of the people.
    • Speech to the House of Commons (March 10, 1875).
  • I am sure that in Canada the people appreciate this principle, and the general intelligence which prevails over that country is such that I am sure there is no danger of a reactionary policy ever finding a response in the hearts of any considerable number of our people.
    • Speech in Dundee, Scotland (July 13, 1875).
  • This belief led me to propose the establishment of a Military College modelled on existing similar institutions in England and the United States, with the expectation that when the first batch of Graduates were leaving the College. Means would be found to employ the Graduates in the Canadian Military Service
    • letter to Governor-General Dufferin, in 1878.


  • To legislate in advance of public opinion is merely to produce anarchy instead of maintaining law and order.

His Character[edit]

  • W.L. Mackenzie (Canada West/Ontario Leader of 1837 Rebellion) – “He is every whit a self-made, self-educated man. Has large mental capacity and indomitable energy.” (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 120)
  • Lord Dufferin (Governor General) – “as pure as crystal, and as true as steel, with lots of common sense.” (Thomson 1960, p.211)
  • Chief Justice Sir Louis Davies – “the best debater the House of Commons has ever known.” (Mackenzie's newspaper scrapbook "Days of Giants", Library and Archives Canada)
  • Sir Wilfred Laurier (Prime Minister) – “one of the truest and strongest characters to be met within Canadian history. He was endowed with a warm heart and a copious and rich fancy, though veiled by a somewhat reticent exterior, and he was of friends the most tender and true.” (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p.633)
  • Sir George Ross (Federal Cabinet, Premier of Ontario)– “Mackenzie was sui generis a debater. His humorous sallies blistered like a blast from a flaming smelter. His sterling honesty is a great heritage, and will keep his memory green to all future generations.” (Ross 1913, p. 31)
  • S.H. Blake (prominent Ontario Lawyer, Judge)– “God give us more such as he was, honest and true.” (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 639)
  • Rev. Dr. Thomas (delivered Mackenzie's eulogy) – “stood four square, to all the winds that blow.” (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 643, Tennyson’s Ode to the Death of the Duke of Wellington)
  • London times – the untiring energy, the business-like accuracy, the keen perception and reliable judgment, and above all the inflexible integrity which marked his private life, he carried without abatement of one jot into his public career. (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 663)
  • Westminster Review – a man, who although, through failing health and failing voice, he had virtually passed out of public life, yet retained to the last the affectionate veneration of the Canadian people as no other man of the time can be said to have done. (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 651, The Westminster Review Volume 137)
  • Charlottetown Patriot – in all that constitutes the real man, the honest statesman, the true patriot, the warm friend, and sincere Christian, he had few equals. Possessed of a clear intellect, a retentive memory, and a ready command of appropriate words, he was one of the most logical and powerful speakers we have ever heard. (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 662)
  • St. John Telegraph – he was loved by the people and his political opponents were compelled to respect him even above their own chosen leader. As a statesman, he has had few equals. (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 660)
  • Montreal Star – it is one of the very foremost architects of the Canadian nationality that we mourn. In the dark days of ’73 Canadians were in a state of panic, distrusting the stability of their newly-built Dominion; no one can tell what would have happened had not the stalwart form of Alexander Mackenzie lifted itself above the screaming, vociferating and denying mass of politicians, and all Canada felt at once, there was a man who could be trusted. (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 661)
  • Toronto Globe – he was a man who loved the people and fought for their rights against privilege and monopoly in every form. (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 661)
  • Philadelphia Record – Like Caesar, who twice refused a knightly crown, Alexander Mackenzie refused knighthood three times. Unlike Caesar, he owed his political overthrow to his incorruptible honesty and unswerving integrity. (Buckingham and Ross 1892, p. 660)
  • “He was, and ever will remain, the Sir Galahad of Canadian politics” (Marquis 1903, p. 418)


  • Dale C. Thomson Alexander Mackenzie, Clear Grit, 1960. 14960, Macmillan of Canada, 436 pages
  • William Buckingham, George William Ross "The Honourable Alexander Mackenzie: His Life and Times". 1892. Toronto: Rose Publishing Company Limited, 678 pages
  • Sir George W. Ross "Getting into Parliament and After", 1913. Toronto: William Briggs, 343 pages
  • T.G. Marquis "Builders of Canada from Cartier to Laurier", 1903. Toronto: John C. Winston and Co., 570 pages

External links[edit]

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