Sir David Lewis Macpherson, KCMG, PC

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Sir David Lewis Macpherson, KCMG, PC

Birthplace: Castle Leathers, Inverness, Highland, Scotland, United Kingdom
Death: August 16, 1896 (77)
at sea on board the steamship Labrador en route to Canada
Place of Burial: at sea
Immediate Family:

Son of David Macpherson and Naomi Macpherson
Husband of Elizabeth Sarah Badgley Macpherson
Father of Isabel Louise Kirkpatrick; Elizabeth Frances Dobell; Helen Bankes and Naomi Beckett
Brother of Eliza MacKenzie; Helen Macaulay; John Macpherson; Elisabeth Macpherson; Gordon Macpherson and 3 others
Half brother of John McPherson; William McPherson; Robena Craigey Nevin; Alexander McPherson; Anne McPherson and 2 others

Managed by: Kevin Lawrence Hanit
Last Updated:

About Sir David Lewis Macpherson, KCMG, PC

Sir David Lewis Macpherson, KCMG PC (September 12, 1818 – August 16, 1896) was a Canadian businessman and political figure. He was a member of the Senate of Canada from 1867 to 1896. He was knighted for his service to the country in 1884.

He was born in Castle Leathers in Inverness parish, Scotland in 1818 and came to Canada with his family in 1835. He became a clerk in the Montreal office of his older brother's shipping business, which transported passengers and freight in Upper and Lower Canada. In 1842, he became a senior partner in the business. In partnership with Alexander Tilloch Galt and Luther Hamilton Holton, Macpherson acquired the shares of the Montreal and Kingston Railway, knowing that their rail line was required as part of a planned railway connection between Montreal and Hamilton. He was part of a contracting firm formed to extend the Grand Trunk Railway in Upper Canada. In 1853, he moved to Toronto. He helped set up the Toronto Rolling Mills Company which supplied track to the Grand Trunk. He also served as a director of the Bank of Upper Canada. In 1864, he was elected to the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada for Saugeen division and, in 1867, he was appointed to the Senate as a Conservative and served until his death.

Macpherson was a member of the arbitration board that dealt with the financial issues associated with the creation of the separate provinces of Ontario and Quebec after Confederation. He led the resistance in the Senate to John Rose's proposed changes to banking legislation and some of Macpherson's proposals made their way into the Bank Act of 1871.

He served as Speaker of the Senate from 1880 to 1883. In the early eighties, the legalization of marriage with a deceased wife's sister was under discussion in the Canadian Parliament. On the day that the bill received its second reading in the Red Chamber, the Sir David Macpherson invited Mrs. Susie Anna Gunhilda Wiggins, whose letters of support for the bill had gained attention, to take a seat on his right, an honour, which was never before accorded to any woman but the wife of a Governor-General. To commemorate his time as Speaker, Macpherson, as well as other Speakers of the Senate, had his name crafted in stained glass in the ceiling of the front foyer of the Senate Chamber.

Macpherson also served in cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio from 1880 to 1883 and as Minister of the Interior from 1883 to 1885. In later life, Macpherson suffered from diabetes and he spent part of the summer and fall each year recovering at spas in Germany. He attempted to encourage settlement in western Canada along the planned route for the Canadian Pacific Railway, but settlers found land in the western United States more attractive. Problems with land policy, unwillingness to take action and a basic lack of understanding in Macpherson's ministry of the concerns of the Métis people helped set the stage for the North-West Rebellion in 1885. He resigned from his cabinet post later that year.

He died at sea on August 16, 1896 on board the steamship Labrador, in mid-ocean, and his remains were buried at sea

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Sir David Lewis Macpherson, KCMG, PC's Timeline

September 12, 1818
Castle Leathers, Inverness, Highland, Scotland, United Kingdom
November 9, 1818
Inverness, Highland, Scotland, United Kingdom
Toronto, Toronto Division, Ontario, Canada
May 19, 1846
August 16, 1896
Age 77
at sea on board the steamship Labrador en route to Canada
at sea