Today in Canada's Political History - February 7, 1887: Sir John A. kicks off his national election campaign with a rally in Kingston

  • National Newswatch

With the calling of the 1887 federal election, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald decided to kick off his campaign by returning home to Kingston. He spoke at a well-attended rally in his hometown, and newspapers on this date in 1887 reported on the Old Chieftain’s speech.

“Sir John A. Macdonald pulled off his beaver coat and proceeded to address the audience,” one account read “His voice was weak and failed to fill the building. The chairman was continually calling order. Sir John said his appearance in the city recalled a flood of memories, that here he had received the first certificate of character, and that had it not been for the support at the fathers and their fathers’ fathers, he might not now have occupied the position he holds.”

Macdonald, of course, did a bit of Grit bashing during his address. “It was dreadful for him, with such a love for Canada, to think even now in his advanced years that the country would ever be handed over to the men who had, while they had a chance, neglected to build it up and advance its interests,” he said.

Sir John A. then brought his speech to an end with a flourish. “The question the people of Canada had to settle was not one of sentimentalism,” he said, “but under what government the greatest amount of prosperity would result; which party would likely do the most for the future development of the country, for the welfare and prestige of Canada.”

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.





Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.