Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada in

the year 1908 by Morang & Co., Limited, in the Department of Agriculture.


PY common consent Sir John Alexander Mac

D donald has been assigned the foremost place among the statesmen whom the public life of Canada has hitherto produced. Popular opinion on this point has been ratified by the stricter and measured judgment of the ablest men among his Canadian contemporaries with whom he was brought into close personal and official contact. It was equally ratified, even during his lifetime, by opinion in Britain, where those who best knew his work recognized in him one of the foremost statesmen of the empire. At his death the creation of a peerage for his widow put a special stamp of national recognition upon the singular services which he had rendered to Canada and the nation. A memorial tablet in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral—his statue adorning the squares of most of the larger Canadian cities-indicate the general desire to perpetuate his memor

If special honour is due to those who by wise constructive statesmanship lay broad and deep the foundations of a great state, then to such honour Sir John Macdonald is fairly entitled.

No public man has ever in Canada won in an equal degree the sustained admiration of his fellowcitizens, and at the same time their affection, as


11612 mn solo -..

mandle whole Dafterward. constituted. Aty of the

had Macdonald at the time of his death. That he should have done this in spite of grave political errors and acknowledged personal defects, and as the general outcome of a life spent in the very furnace of party conflict, makes the achievement all the more striking.

For many years before Confederation his history is an essential part of the political history of the province of Canada as then constituted; for nearly twenty-five years afterwards it is practically that of the whole Dominion. While many men and many forces contributed to that great end, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that it was his personality which in 1867 made the confederation of British North America possible. Rightly understood this period was as critical for the empire as it was for the colony itself. No one can doubt that the whole future development of the imperial system is destined to be profoundly affected by the course of action then taken.

It was fortunate that at such a time Canada possessed a public man who was versed in all the intricacies of local politics, and endowed with the peculiar skill which creates and holds together parliamentary majorities, and who at the same time had a mind capable of grasping the problems of a broad national statesmanship. The colonial politician, guided by a few dominant principles, gradually developed, under the pressure of circumstances and the needs of a great occasion, into

PREFACE an imperial statesman who has left a lasting stamp upon the policy of the nation.

The confederation of Canada under the Crown inaugurated the new idea and the new organization of the empire. That organization is still far from complete. Other great groups of colonies are feeling their way towards a consolidation similar to that which has conferred such immense advantage on the Dominion. The empire as a whole begins to realize that it has not yet reached its final goal in the process of political evolution.

The period in which we live is, therefore, one of national transition where every lesson of experience has extreme value. The work of the men who laid well and truly the constitutional foundations of the Dominion has now stood the test of nearly forty years of stress and strain. A political system which commands public confidence, a healthy national spirit, great material prosperity, and well grounded hope for an ever-widening and successful future are results apparent to the ordinary observer.

The labours of Macdonald and his fellow-workers in adapting British constitutional principles to a federal system have become a part, and no unimportant part, of our national heritage. A recog

: of the work they accomplished will facilitate further national development.

The historical facts of a period tend to group themselves around its strongest and most repre

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »