Sunday, January 11, 2015

John A

The theme of famous people, portraits was chosen specifically for this date because it is     Sir John A Macdonald's 200th birthday. 
Hot off the press is the stamp issued (unusually, on a Sunday) today in his honour. (my post office outlet had no fdc, sadly)

We don't do much in the way of celebrating our leaders, so there isn't a whole lot happening to commemorate our first Prime Minister and Father of Confederation. There may be a glass or two - or three - raised in his honour at some point. He did, after all, really, really like his drink. Until Rob Ford came along, John A was our most famous politician known for his drunken stupors. Though, it could be argued that most men of the time drank a lot, the fact that he could also govern the country and accomplish as much as he did while being inebriated shows a certain strength. He was PM for 19 years, oversaw Confederation and the building of the Canadian-Pacific Railway, and created the North West Mounted Police. He also enjoyed bribery and patronage to get his way, was a bit neglectful and possibly a racist.
John Alexander Macdonald was born in Glasgow though exactly where is in dispute (and as a result plans to erect a plaque have been stalled for a long time). He had a rather unhappy personal life, which could go a ways to explain his penchant for alcohol. The family emigrated to Upper Canada in 1820 and by age 15 John was working to support his mother and sisters. A brother had died from a blow to the head by a servant who was to have been looking after the boys. His first wife, Isabella, was an invalid for many years and their first child died in infancy. Another child with his second wife, Agnes, suffered from hydrocephalus and never walked.

This stamp is a 1973 definitive. John A was a caricaturist's dream. In this case the designer was David Annesley. 
(yes, he is always called John A, never MacDonald)






Today has warmed up to a mild and pleasant -1C, but I may still warm my insides with a shot of whisky and toast the old geezer.

12 comments:

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but I dont think I've heard about him...till now. Thanks for sharing it! He does seem to had had a sad personal life, but frankly, I really liked the way you had put that story together...has some emotional touch in it.

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    1. No worries - I wouldn't know any of your politicians, either!
      Thanks, the newspapers have been full of reasons to honour the man, and it is good to see him warts and all, I think.

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  2. I second your plan for that shot of whiskey--it's amazingly effective against the cold.

    And this line made me snort: "Until Rob Ford came along, John A was our most famous politician known for his drunken stupors."

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  3. Interesting story. Government is rife with scoundrels, isn't it?

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    1. Yes, it is. Makes history a bit more interesting, though!

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  4. Me too, I like the way you write the story.
    It isn't so cold here, so I'm going to prepare a cup of tea instead of whisky... ;)

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    1. Thanks. I didn't want it to be all dry facts.

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  5. I suspect that that many of our leaders have liked a tipple too. I must confess to being unaware of him as well.

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    1. Didn't your schools teach you about us??!

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  6. Most interesting. I know little of Canadian history, other than the French being taken over by the English. And Anne of Green Gables, too, of course.
    From the stamp, it seems he was no oil painting.

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  7. I like those flawed early politicians, they seemed to have great ambition plans and more importantly got things done.

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