Sir Hugh John Macdonald, PC

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Hugh John Macdonald

Birthplace: Kingston, ON, Canada
Death: March 29, 1929 (79)
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir John A. Macdonald, GCB, KCMG, PC, PC, QC and Isabella Macdonald
Husband of Gertrude Agnes Macdonald and Mary Jean King MacDonald
Father of John Alexander MacDonald and Isabella Mary MacDonald
Brother of John Alexander Macdonald, Jr.
Half brother of Margaret Mary Theodora Macdonald and Gertrude Macdonald

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Hugh John Macdonald, PC

Hugh John Macdonald

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

8th Premier of Manitoba

In office

January 10, 1900 – October 29, 1900

Member of the Canadian Parliament

for Winnipeg

In office

1891 – 1893

In office

1896 – 1897

Born March 13, 1850(1850-03-13)

Kingston, Upper Canada

Died March 29, 1929 (aged 79)

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Political party Conservative

Relations Sir John A. Macdonald, father; Isabella Clark, mother; Agnes Bernard, stepmother

Cabinet Minister of the Interior (1896)

Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs (1896)

President of the Council (1900)

Attorney-General (1900)

Municipal Commissioner (1900)

Railway Commissioner (1900)

Sir Hugh John Macdonald, PC (March 13, 1850 – March 29, 1929) was the only surviving son of the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, and was a politician in his own right, serving as a member of the Canadian House of Commons and a federal cabinet minister, and briefly as Premier of Manitoba.

Born in Kingston, Ontario, Macdonald received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1869 and studied law in Toronto and Ottawa. He left for Manitoba in 1870 as part of the Wolseley Expedition, which was formed to put down Louis Riel's Red River Rebellion. After taking part in the bloodless capture of Upper Fort Garry (after Riel's departure), he returned to Ontario and his legal studies. He was called to the Bar in 1872, and became a member of his father's firm.

Grieved by the death of his first wife, Macdonald moved to Winnipeg in 1882. He set up his own law practice, and took part in putting down Riel's second rebellion three years later.

Macdonald was elected to the House of Commons in the 1891 federal election, representing Winnipeg City for the Conservative Party. He was sworn into parliament at the side of his father, to the applause of members from both sides. After the older Macdonald died later in the year, however, Hugh John showed little enthusiasm for life in Ottawa. Despite efforts by John Abbott and John S.D. Thompson to keep him in federal politics, he resigned his seat in 1893 and returned to Winnipeg.

In 1896, Prime Minister Charles Tupper convinced him to return to Ottawa and serve as Minister of the Interior and Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs. This occurred at a time when the Conservative Party was suffering from internal divisions, and was due to face the public in a general election. Tupper probably hoped that the Macdonald name would win back some wayward voters.

The 1896 election was won by Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals, and while Macdonald was again elected for Winnipeg City (narrowly defeating former provincial minister Joseph Martin), his election was declared void in early 1897. He once again returned to Winnipeg, and did not contest the subsequent by-election.

In March 1897, Macdonald was approached to take the leadership of Manitoba's Conservative Party. The party had suffered severe losses to Thomas Greenway's Liberals in the elections of 1888, 1892 and 1896, and had lacked direction since the death of former Premier John Norquay in 1889. By 1897, however, there was a recognition that the provincial situation was susceptible to change. Greenway's second and third majorities were based almost entirely on popular support for his education reforms; with the education issue resolved in 1896, the Conservatives had a viable chance to form government. Macdonald accepted the leadership position, and (though without seat in the legislature) spent the next two years touring the province in anticipation of the next election.

The Conservative Party of Manitoba became a legally recognized entity in 1899, and drew up its first election platform shortly thereafter. This was a progressive document by the standards of its age, calling for an independent board of education, new agricultural and technical colleges, a Workmen's Compensation Act, prohibition, and the nationalization of railways. On a less progressive note, the party also tapped into popular resentment toward new Eastern European immigrants. Both of these factors contributed to an upset victory in the 1899 provincial election, with Conservatives taking 22 seats out of 40. Macdonald narrowly defeated incumbent Liberal John D. Cameron in Winnipeg South, and was sworn in as Premier on January 10, 1900. He also took the position of Municipal Commissioner.

His term in office was brief. Macdonald succeeded in passing a prohibition bill (known as the "Macdonald Act"), but was again prevailed upon to run for the federal Conservatives in the 1900 federal election. It is possible that he intended to replace Charles Tupper as national party leader.

Macdonald resigned as Premier on October 29, 1900, and challenged Minister of the Interior Clifford Sifton in the riding of Brandon. Sifton was the most powerful cabinet minister in western Canada, but the Conservatives believed that Hugh John's personal popularity would be enough to defeat him. They were mistaken. Despite a spirited challenge, Sifton won the election with 5,011 votes to Macdonald's 4,342.

Macdonald abandoned electoral politics after this loss, and returned to his law practice. He continued to be involved in the Conservative Party organization within Manitoba, serving as President of the Manitoba Conservative Association from 1905 to 1908. He was appointed Police Magistrate for Winnipeg in 1911, and was made a Knight Bachelor in 1915. There were rumours that he would return to lead the Conservative Party in 1915, but this did not come to pass.

Macdonald was Winnipeg's Magistrate during the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919. Immigrants arrested during the strike appeared before him and he ordered them sent to an internment camp at Kapuskasing from where they were eventually deported without the right to formal hearings.[citation needed]

Macdonald's last home in downtown Winnipeg is now a museum and the offices for the Manitoba Historical Society.


Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Biography from the Manitoba Historical Society

Hugh Macdonald

Hugh was born on March 13, 1850 to Isabella and John Alexander Macdonald. The birth of Hugh filled a void left by the death of his brother John Alexander Macdonald Jr. two years before Hugh’s birth. Isabella’s health, which had been steadily declining for many years, only got worse after the birth of Hugh. During this time Hugh was sent to play at neighbours’ houses during the day to enable his mother to rest. Isabella died by the time Hugh was seven. After his mother’s death, he was sent to live with his Uncle James Williamson, and his two aunts, Margaret Williamson and Louisa Macdonald.

After re-marrying in 1882, Hugh lifestyle contrasted markedly from that of his wife. Although Lady Macdonald thrived having a busy social life, Hugh did not enjoy it. He preferred to be with his books and his pipe in his study then to go to dances, which he found boring. Hugh attended many gatherings due to his wife’s insistence and his duty to the organizations that were holding these functions. Hugh was involved in the Cricket Club, the Rowing Club, and the Canoe Club.

In 1897, the Winnipeg Victorias hockey team were challenged in a re-match by the Montreal Victorias. The game was held in Winnipeg and Hugh and Gertie Macdonald watched the game from the clubroom’s balcony, where they were served tea. Following supper, Hugh presented the Stanley Cup to the Captains of the Montreal team, Mike Grant.

In 1899, Hugh John lead the party to victory over Thomas Greenway’s Liberal government, making him the new Premier of Manitoba. As Premier, Macdonald attempted to implement his election promises. One of these was the introduction of prohibition called “The Macdonald Act” which he succeeded in passing. However, this particular piece of legislation was very unpopular among the brewers, tavern keepers and their clientele, and they put a great deal of pressure on Conservative leaders and began court action. At the suggestion of local friends and another call from the federal party, Hugh John resigned the premiership to contest the 1900 federal election in the constituency of Brandon against Clifford Sifton. It was a battle royal between Sifton (the Minister of the Interior and a powerful political force in the Liberal party) and Macdonald (son of the former prime minister, the former Minister of the Interior, and the freshly elected premier of Manitoba), but in the end one man had to lose. It was Macdonald and this resulted in his retirement as an elected politician. He returned to his law practice.

In 1911, Hugh John was appointed Police Magistrate for Winnipeg. And in 1913 he was included in the King’s Birthday Honours List, at which time Hugh John was made a Knight Bachelor of the Bath. He was given the right to be called Sir Hugh John Macdonald and his wife became Lady Agnes Gertrude Macdonald.

He was temporarily obliged to retire from the bench in 1927 because of illness, the result of which was the amputation of his right leg. This same year, he was honoured at the national Conservative Convention held in Winnipeg. He returned to the bench as Police Magistrate in 1928.

On March 29, 1929 just a few days after his seventy-ninth birthday, Hugh John Macdonald died at Dalnavert, following complications of same the illness which cost him his right leg. His body lay in state at the Legislative Buildings prior to the public funeral that was conducted at All Saints Church at the corner of Broadway and Osborne. Following the ceremony his body was laid to rest beside that of his son Jack, in St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.

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Sir Hugh John Macdonald, PC's Timeline

March 13, 1850
Kingston, ON, Canada
March 29, 1929
Age 79
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Premier of Manitoba in 1900
Premier of Manitoba in 1900