Macdonald was undoubtedly one of the most influential figures to ever set foot on Canadian soil, but his legacy is just as debated as it is revered. As the modern age continues to usher in new perspectives, some of Macdonald’s actions are being found inconsistent and inappropriate for the new Canadian Zeitgeist. His name is only growing in relevance within Canadian conversation, and some have opted for its complete removal from the public sphere. Though Macdonald’s character continues to be questioned by the Canadian population, many have been quick to oppose this decisive movement. As polarizing as he is, Macdonald’s likeness should continue to appear in public, as his ideas and actions still hold stake in current Canadian values, and we should allow his identity to educate us rather than further divide Canadian political ideologies.

Instead of taking the extreme position on this issue and completely removing Macdonald’s name, his monuments can just as easily be utilized in a productive manner without sacrificing the well being of Canadian citizens. Macdonald’s public depictions can be revised to share the various interpretations of his leadership. In Ontario, virtually all Macdonald’s monuments mention his accomplishments, but make little effort to mention the other sides of his story. His memorial in the County of Frontenac for example, describe him as a “the political genius of Confederation” (Historic Sites and Monument Board Canada), but lack any acknowledgement of the type of relationship he had with the Metis people. The prominent monument in the Ontario City Park claims that Macdonald “completed the trans-continental railway” through “practical leadership” (Historic Sites and Monument Board Canada), but fail to mention how his government managed the Chinese Canadian workforce. With the portrayal of Macdonald stirring up painful emotions amongst certain Canadians, bringing light to his history with these ethnic groups will rationally help Canadians move on from these wounds, without risking any loss of common Canadian knowledge. If openly displaying objective truths fail to convince Canadians of Macdonald’s evil, then maybe our values don’t really differ from the people who erected his statues.

It is argued that some of Macdonald’s actions are inconsistent with current day morals, and I do not disagree. However, his public representation pay homage to multiple values championed in the present Canadian society. In 1871, Macdonald persuaded British Columbia to join confederation “on the promise of a trans-continental railway” which stretched across Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba: provinces that later followed BC’s footsteps (The Canadian Encyclopedia). It was Macdonald’s vision that allowed the Canadian Dominion to stretch from coast to coast, unimpeded by geological landforms. Borders aside, Macdonald was an unlikely progressive who made considerable efforts to promote the suffrage of women. He was early to recognize the “centuries of oppression” women endured, and proudly “became the first national leader in the world to attempt to extend the vote to women” (Richard J. Gwyn). Though Macdonald died 27 years before Canadian women were allowed to vote (The Canadian Encyclopedia), his stand certainly does hold up to the egalitarian ideals we currently strive for. While we may not completely agree with the Canada Macdonald envisioned, it would be thoughtless to deny his presence beneath the united and progressive nation we celebrate today. Whereas disregarding his crowning achievements is unfair, overlooking the repercussions of his actions is equally ignorant; both ethics of judgement will be left unsatisfied if public portrayals of Macdonald are inaccessible.

Even in the face of controversy, Mcdonald’s endeavours ultimately unified Canada, and this task deserves recognition in the nation he dedicated his life to crafting. He did prefer to achieve his political goals through radical means, but omitting this information from the public will simply neglect those who suffered as a consequence of his methods. With all things considered, Macdonald’s legacy should not be removed as this procedure will accomplish nothing more than ignore the hardships of certain ethnicities, while discounting his efforts that are still celebrated by Canadians. If Macdonald never left for Canada, would his replacement be more progressive under our judgements, or would the progress he stood for even be reproduced?

“Sir John A. Macdonald 1815-1891.” Sir John A. Macdonald Historical Plaque,

Women’s Suffrage – The Canadian Encyclopedia,

Women’s Suffrage – The Canadian Encyclopedia,