This special 2-book bundle contains a number of perspectives on a man who was arguably Canada’s most famous political leader, a figure of legendary proportions in the history of Canada’s birth and development.
Ged Martin’s biography tells Macdonald’s story. Shocked by Canada’s 1837 rebellions, Macdonald sought to build alliances and avoid future conflicts. Thanks to financial worries and an alcohol problem, he almost quit politics in 1864. The challenge of building Confederation harnessed his skills, and in 1867 he became the country’s first prime minister. He drove the Dominion’s westward expansion, rapidly incorporating the Prairies and British Columbia before a railway contract scandal unseated him in 1873. He conquered his drinking problem and rebuilt the Conservative Party to regain power in 1878. The centrepiece of his protectionist National Policy was the transcontinental railway, but a western uprising in 1885 was followed by the controversial execution of rebel leader Louis Riel. Although dominant nationally, this popular hero had many flaws.
Macdonald at 200 presents fifteen fresh interpretations of Canada’s founding prime minister, published for the occasion of the bicentennial of his birth in 1815. Crisply written by recognized scholars and specialists, the collection throws new light on Macdonald’s formative role in shaping government, promoting women’s rights, managing the nascent economy, supervising westward expansion, overseeing relations with Native peoples, and dealing with Fenian terrorism. A special section deals with how Macdonald has (or has not) been remembered by historians as well as the general public. The book concludes with an afterword by prominent Macdonald biographer Richard Gwyn. Macdonald emerges as a man of full dimensions — an historical figure that is surprisingly relevant to our own times.