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William McDougall (politician)

Sir William MacDougall PC CB January 25, 1822 – May 29, 1905 was a Canadian lawyer, politician, and one of the Fathers of Confederation


  • 1 Biography
    • 11 Gettysburg Address
    • 12 Confederation Canada
    • 13 Second marriage and family
    • 14 Later life and death
  • 2 Political views
  • 3 Electoral record
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


William McDougall was born near York, Upper Canada now Toronto, Ontario to Daniel McDougall and Hannah Matthews William was the third generation of United Empire Loyalists to settle in York In 1793, his paternal great-great grandparents were among the first twelve families to move to York along with 450 British troops Those soldiers then built Fort York to protect against American invasion

McDougall received his education at Victoria College in Cobourg, Upper Canada, and in 1847, began practicing law as an attorney and solicitor in Upper Canada In 1862, he was called to the Upper Canada Bar

In 1849, William McDougall's office in Toronto was the meeting place for the Clear Grit political movement Other Clear Grit supporters included Peter Perry, David Christie, Charles Clarke, Charles Lindsay, and Malcolm Cameron From 1850 to 1858, he published The North American, a liberal newspaper

He was elected as a member of the legislative assembly in 1858 and served as Commissioner of Crown Lands and Provincial Secretary

Gettysburg Address

In 1863, Along with Alexander Tilloch Galt, McDougall went to Washington DC to meet with President Abraham Lincoln in order to renegotiate the Reciprocity Treaty During the visit, Lincoln explained that he had an important event to attend and had to travel to Pennsylvania The President had then invited McDougall to accompany him on his trip by train and coach They stayed the night at the private home of David Wills, a wealthy 32-year-old Gettysburg attorney

On the following day, November 19, an opening ceremony took place at the new Gettysburg cemetery, built for fallen soldiers of the American Civil War While many orators spoke for hours, Lincoln spoke briefly, presenting the Gettysburg Address Even though the Canadian and British press wrote positively about Lincoln's speech, the American press condemned it for its lack of length

In July 1958, before then United States President Dwight D Eisenhower addressed a joint session of the Parliament of Canada, Prime Minister John G Diefenbaker recounted the tale of the friendship between McDougall and Lincoln as an example of the long history of friendship between Canada and the United States A copy of the Hansard containing President Eisenhower's speech was autographed and commented by Mr Diefenbaker, and it can be found in the Baldwin Room - a secured archives area - of the Main Library of the City of Toronto

Confederation Canada

McDougall is considered a father of Canadian confederation as he attended all three Confederation conferences Once the dominion formed, he served as Minister of Public Works in the Macdonald government As he had begun as Liberal and now served under Macdonald's Conservatives, he earned the nickname 'Wandering Willy'

In the federal election of 1867 he was elected in the district of Lanark North, for the Liberal-Conservative party

McDougall was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory in 1869 The only practicable travel route at the time was through the United States with the permission of US President Grant However, when McDougall tried to enter Rupert's Land from the Dakota Territory down the Red River, he was turned back near the border by Louis Riel's insurgents before he could establish his authority at Fort Garry now Winnipeg, Manitoba Dispatches on microfiche at the Main Library of the City of Toronto include his request for 1,000 British troops to be sent on the authority of Queen Victoria She responded that she would prefer a more amicable settlement of the jurisdiction issue He returned to Ottawa, and campaigned against Manitoba becoming a province because of its very few inhabitants at that time The area of Fort Garry was about 50 square miles 130 km2 He also continued to serve as an interim leader of the North-West provisional government from Ottawa until Adams George Archibald took over on May 10, 1870

In the federal election of 1872, he ran again for the Liberal-Conservative party in Lanark North but was defeated In 1875, he was elected to the Parliament of the Province of Ontario He served as an Independent-Liberal from June 1, 1875, until September 9, 1878, for the electoral district of Simcoe South

Second marriage and family

Mrs William MacDougall

In November 1872, McDougall married his second wife, Mary Adelaide Beatty She was the daughter of Eleanor and Dr John Beatty, a professor in Victoria University She was born and educated at Cobourg, Ontario Mary was involved in various philanthropic organizations including the Ottawa Humane Society The couple lived at 407 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa The couple had three sons, two of whom served with the Canadian contingent during the Boer War in South Africa

His sister Emily married Liberal Senator David Reesor in 1847

Later life and death

In the federal election of 1878, he ran in Halton and was re-elected in the election of 1882 in Algoma and Grenville South in the election of 1887 he was defeated

In 1890, he was promised a Senate seat, but did not pursue an appointment because his health was failing During the conferences preceding Confederation, McDougall was personally in favour of electing members to the Senate of Canada He was also offered a federal judgeship in British Columbia, which he turned down

He died on May 29, 1905, due to a spine Injury caused by walking off a moving train

Political views

McDougall was a Canada First nationalist He espoused deep anti-Catholic and anti-Aboriginal views He has also been called "vain, erratic and irredeemably pigheaded"

Electoral record

Canadian federal election, 1887: Grenville South
Party Candidate Votes
Conservative Walter Shanly 1,407
Liberal William McDougall 1,187
Canadian federal election, 1882: Algoma
Party Candidate Votes %
Conservative Simon James Dawson 1,707 6055
Liberal William McDougall 1,112 3945
Canadian federal election, 1878: Halton
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal–Conservative William McDougall 1,708 503 +23
Liberal William McCraney 1,690 497 -23
Total valid votes 3,398 1000
Canadian federal election, 1872: Lanark North
Party Candidate Votes
Liberal Daniel Galbraith 559
Unknown Bennett Rosamond 418
Liberal–Conservative Mr MacDougall 276
Canadian federal election, 1867: Lanark North
Party Candidate Votes
Liberal–Conservative William McDougall, CB acclaimed

See also

  • List of Northwest Territories premiers
  • List of Northwest Territories lieutenant-governors


  1. ^ Hopkins, J Castell 1898 An historical sketch of Canadian literature and journalism Toronto: Lincott p 227 ISBN 0665080484 
  2. ^ John G Diefenbaker, Prime Minister July 9, 1958 "Appendix: Address of Dwight D Eisenhower, President of the United States" Parliamentary Debates Hansard Canada: House of Commons p 2082 
  3. ^ a b c d Gwyn, Richard 2012 Nation Maker: Sir John A Macdonald: His Life, Our Times II Toronto: Vintage Canada pp 100–101 ISBN 978-0-30735645-1 
  4. ^ Morgan, Henry James, ed 1903 Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada I Toronto: William Briggs p 218 
  5. ^ http://wwwreesorranchcom/ranchhistoryhtml

External links

  • "William McDougall" Dictionary of Canadian Biography online ed University of Toronto Press 1979–2016 
  • William McDougall – Parliament of Canada biography
  • Ontario Legislative Assembly parliamentary history
  • William McDougall Library and Archives Canada

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