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Sir John A. Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 until his death on June 6, 1891. Macdonald was also an important figure in the government of the Province of Canada before 1867 and played a central role in the Confederation of the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada consisting of Canada East (Quebec) and Canada West (Ontario) in 1867. Besides being Prime Minister, Macdonald held several cabinet posts including Justice and Attorney General (1867-1873), Interior (1878-1883), Indian Affairs (1878-1887) and Railways and Canals (1889-1891). Macdonald's government was involved in many important events and political developments in Canada during his tenure as Prime Minister including the expansion of the country after Confederation to include Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories; the establishment of the North West Mounted Police; the Northwest Rebellions; the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway; and the National Policy.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the Sir John A. Macdonald fonds (MG 26-A) consisting of political and personal papers divided into subject files, correspondence files, legal and financial papers, family papers and letterbooks. The Macdonald fonds consists of 593 volumes of textual records and 208 volumes of oversize documents. The first 569 volumes are available on 242 reels of microfilm.
The Macdonald subject files in volumes 1 to 185 have been digitized from the microfilm and are available online. The database, containing the letter by letter index to these 185 volumes, is available at LAC. The images for these documents have been copied from the microfilm and linked to the index entries.
The original subject files are arranged alphabetically by title and range from Alaska Boundary to Wrecking on the Great Lakes. Among the largest subject files are railways, Governor Generals' correspondence, Washington treaties of 1871 and 1888, Confederation, federal elections, fenians, and North West Rebellions. The original documents consist mostly of correspondence but also contain memoranda, newspaper clippings and pamphlets. Each subject file contains the following information:
This research tool provides access to more than 17 000 references to the Sir John A. Macdonald fonds (MG 26-A) held at Library and Archives Canada.
Information from the Macdonald subject index files was input into this database and the microfilm was digitized.
The content of the database entries reflects the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated. Important note: Given that some of the original documents are very difficult to read, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete.
The search screen allows you to search by keywords, name of correspondent or date.
Keywords: Most of the files listed in this database were originally created in English. When searching by keyword in the "keyword" field, users are encouraged to use English terms to maximize results.
Correspondent: Note that the entries include only the first initial for the given names. Try searching by surname only.
Date (YYYYMMDD): This refers to the date the original record or document was actually created. This field is searchable using the standardized date format.
When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.
Your search results will be posted as a summary list from which you will be able to obtain more detailed descriptions. The results list contains the following fields:
Correspondent (surname and first initial of the given name)
Subject (files are arranged alphabetically by title and range from Alaska Boundary to Wrecking on the Great Lakes)
Click on the underlined correspondent name of the document of interest to you to access the detailed description.
The detailed description contains the following fields:
You can print the digitized images of your selected documents or save the images on your own computer. Use the following access link for other options such as obtaining photocopies: How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records
Other records about Sir John A. Macdonald exist. Consult the Web exhibition, ARCHIVED - Sir John A. Macdonald: Canada's Patriot Statesman, for more information about these records.