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Mackenzie, Alexander

MACKENZIE, ALEXANDER (1822-1892), Canadian statesman, was born in Perthshire, Scotland, on the 28th of January, 1822. His father was a builder, and young Mackenzie emigrated to Canada in 1842, and worked in Ontario as a stone-mason, setting up for himself later as a builder and contractor at Sarnia with his brother. In 1852 his interest in questions of reform led to his becoming the editor of the Lambton Shield, a local Liberal paper. This brought him to the front, and in 1861 he became a member of the Canadian parliament, where he at once made his mark and was closely connected with the liberal leader, George Brown. He was elected for Lambton to the first Dominion house of commons in 1867, and soon became the leader of the liberal opposition; from 1871 to 1872 he also sat in the Ontario provincial assembly, and held the position of provincial treasurer. In 1873 the attack on Sir John Macdonald's ministry with regard to the Pacific Railway charter resulted in its defeat, and Mackenzie formed a new government, taking the portfolio of public works and becoming the first liberal premier of Canada. He remained in power till 1878, when industrial depression enabled Macdonald to return to office on a protectionist programme. In 1875 Mackenzie paid a visit to Great Britain, and was received at Windsor by Queen Victoria; he was offered a knighthood, but declined it. After his defeat he suffered from failing health, gradually resulting in almost total paralysis, but though in 1880 he resigned the leadership of the opposition, he retained a seat in parliament till his death at Toronto on the 17th of April 1892. While perhaps too cautious to be the ideal leader of a young and vigorous community, his grasp of detail, indefatigable industry, and unbending integrity won him the respect even of his political opponents.

His Life and Times by William Buckingham and the Hon. George W. Ross (Toronto, 1892) contains documents of much interest. See also George Stewart, Canada under the Administration of the Earl of Dufferin (Toronto, 1878).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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