John Sandfield Macdonald Ceremony Premiers' Gravesites Program




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John Sandfield Macdonald

Background on the ceremony can be found at the Premiers' Gravesite Program (link in top left corner). Following are some of the politicians, and the priest of St. Andrew's West speaking to the assembled attendants.


St. Andrew's West Church, St. Andrew's W., Cornwall Twp, Ontario
This is a descendant of John Sandfield Macdonald speaking at the ceremony
Below are various family members of John Sandfield ( MPP Jim Brownell to right of them) and to the right his brother the Hon. Donald A. Macdonald (Lt. Gov of Ontario 1875) gathered for the ceremony

A cold and wet day, this is a picture of the actual flag-raising ceremony.

These pictures were taken either by Evelyn or George Goulet that day.


Some Excerpts on his life from various sources

For Glengarry, the election marked the rise of a remarkable business and political family The county now had only one member to elect (instead of two, as under the old system), and the lucky candidate, who easily defeated Dr. Grant, was a promising 28-year old Cornwall lawyer, John Sandfield MacDonald John Sandfield was born at St Raphael's, the son of an emigrant from Knoydart He attended the Eastern District Grammar School at Cornwall, qualified as a lawyer, and set up his practice in Cornwall He represented Glengarry in the Legislative Assembly till 1857; he was then succeeded by his brother Donald Alexander, commonly known in Glengarry as Donald Sandfield, who represented Glengarry till 1875.
From the Book: A History of Glengarry

The circumstances were these. Under pressure from home, administered through the new. Governor-General, the Ministry had brought forward measures of defence. They proposed to raise and equip, at the cost of Canada, 50,000 men. They proceeded, if my memory serves me, by the introduction of a Bill, and that Bill was rejected by a very small majority (61 to 54), composed of Sandfield Macdonald and a few others, described as "Ishmaelites." Upon that vote Mr. Cartier at once resigned, as I thought in too much haste. I met him as he walked away from the Parliament House in the afternoon, and expressed regret. He said, with set teeth, clenched fist, and sparkling eyes, "Ah! Well, I have saved the honour of my country against those 'Grits' and 'Rouges;' traitres, traitres." Mr. J. A. Macdonald, afterwards, took the matter very quietly, merely remarking that the slightest tact might have prevented the occurrence.So I thought. Canada and the States
Author: Edward William Watkin

 Macdonald, John Sandfield(1812-1872), prime minister of Canada (1862-64) and [p.441] prime minister of Ontario (1867-71), was born at St. Raphael, Upper Canada, on December  12, 1812, the son  of Alexander Macdonald. He was educated at the grammar school in Cornwall, Upper Canada; and in 1840 he was called to the bar of Upper Canada. In 1841 he was elected to represent Glengarry in the Legislative Assembly of Canada, and he sat for this constituency continuously until 1857, and from 1857 to 1867 he sat for Cornwall. His course in politics was independent and somewhat erratic.

He leaned at first toward Conservatism, but in 1844 he sided with the Reform leaders against Sir Charles Metcalfe (q.v.), and he was henceforth rated as a Reformer. From 1849 to 1851 he was solicitor-general in the second Baldwin-Lafontaine administration; but he was not included in the Hincks-Morin government, and was relegated in 1852-54 to the position of speaker of the Assembly. He opposed the MacNab-Tache and succeeding Liberal-Conservative governments; but, being a Roman Catholic and an advocate of the ?double-majority? principle, he was not in harmony with the wing of the Reform party led by George Brown (q.v.).

He was included in 1858 in the short-lived Brown-Dorion administration as attorney-general west; but this was merely a temporary rapprochement, and when Sandfield Macdonald was invited to form a government in 1862, George Brown was not a member of it. As first minister in the Macdonald-Sicotte government (1862-63), and in the Macdonald-Dorion government (1863-64), he carried on the administration with considerable adroitness under difficult circumstances; but his defeat in March, 1864, and the subsequent defeat of the Tach?-Macdonald ministry in June, 1864, brought about the deadlock from which issued Confederation. Sandfield Macdonald opposed Confederation, and fought against it vigorously; but once it had become an accomplished fact, he accepted it, and in 1867 he was persuaded by Sir John Macdonald (q.v.) to undertake the  prime ministry of Ontario. He formed in Ontario a coalition government, known as ?the Patent Combination?; and for over four years he administered the affairs of the province with great prudence and economy. At the end of 1871, however, he was defeated in the House by the Liberals under Edward Blake (q.v.), and resigned. His health, never robust, had given way; and he died soon afterwards at Cornwall, Ontario, on June 1, 1872. In 1840 he married a daughter of the Hon. George Waggoman (Waggaman -eg), United States senator from Louisiana; and had three sons and four daughters.
From the Book:   The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography
 [p.342] J   page 441
Sources:   [M. O. Hammond, Confederation and its leaders (Toronto, 1917); Proceedings at the unveiling of the statue of John Sandfield Macdonald (pamphlet, Toronto, 1909); Morgan, Cel. Can.; Taylor, Brit. Am., vol. 1; Dent, Can. port., vol. 4; Rose, Cyc. Can. biog. (1886); C. Clarke, Sixty years in Upper Canada (Toronto, 1908); Sir J. Pope, Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Macdonald (2 vols., Ottawa, 1895); J. C. Dent, The last forty years (2 vols., Toronto, 1881); Goldwin Smith, Reminiscences (Toronto, 1910); W. S. Wallace, ?Political History of Ontario,? in Shortt and Doughty (eds.), Canada and its provinces, vol. 17 (Toronto, 1914).]Sources:  Pac - Jsm-Langlois Papers - Urquhart To Jsm, 25 Oct. 1838
          Jsm Papers.  Version Edited 'A Diary Of 1837 By John Sandfield
          Macdonald In Ontario History, Xlvii  (March 1955), I-ii.

 Sandfield had seen Christine whenever he could act as a royal messenger. Passing through Baltimore he would pose as a relative and thereby obtain time with her. In the fall of 1840 they eloped and were married in New York.  Proud Waggaman, who was then in economic difficulties on the plantation, was deeply offended by his daughter's disobedience. Her mother quickly adjusted to the happy match but reconciliation with her father was never complete. In March 1843, a leading Louisiana Democrat killed Waggaman in a duel. 
From the Book:  Some of the Sandfields

Yet as for Sandfield Macdonald, in the Ontario that William Davis spoke for, "we have never been afraid to be Canadians first ... the ultimate priority is to ensure the existence of a stable and unified Canada." As the constitutional debate progressed, this implied fundamental co-operation between the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada. From 1976 to 1981, William Davis and Pierre Trudeau went "hunting in pairs", not unlike John Sandfield Macdonald and John A. Macdonald from 1867 to 1871. 
From the Book: Ontario 1610-1985, A Political & Economic History by Randall White

There is (or was) a painting of John Sandfield at Cornwall, showing him standing with a hand in a trowser pocket. J. S. brought a friend to see his picture. The friend commented, "Aye, John Sandfield 'tis the vera first time I ever saw a lawyer with his hand in his own pocket."
From the Periodical:  Glengarry Historical Society Newsletter May 1998

Descended from the ancient Highland family that settled in Glengarry in 1786. B. at St. Raphael, Ont., 20 Dec., 1812. Ed. under Dr. Urquhart at Cornwall. Called to the Bar of U. C. in Trinity Term, 1840. Created Q.C., 1849. Is a Bencher of the Law Society, U. C. and Lieut. Col. commanding Cornwall Reserve.
From the Book: The Canadian Parliamentary Companion

John Sandfield Macdonald  was nicknamed Old Rosin the Bow, was a fiddler and one of  most popular ways to keep in touch with constituents was to  play at family weddings, etc  He would play Scotch selections on  his Cremona.

If the remarkable decision in 1797 to endow a provincial university had proven to be ahead of its time, and in conflict with the denominational proclivities of the colonial society, the bold decision by Premier Sandfield Macdonald's government in 1868 to terminate all grants for denominational colleges offered the province an opportunity to make a second start in shaping a workable public policy framework for post secondary education in Ontario.
From the Internet:

Neighbours of the McGregors of St. Raphaels were the John Sandfield Macdonald family; the Honourable John Sandfield Macdonald was born in December, 1812 within sight of the Bishop's house and the church. On one occasion, the fire at the Macdonell cabin went out during the night and the boy was sent across the fields for coals.The home still stands but is no longer used as a dwelling. John Sandfield was a restless youth. He attended the school at St. Raphaels but, as he matured, developed the habit of running away in search of adventure. His energy and ambition, even then, asserted themselves, making him dissatisfied with his farm duties-

When his family, deeply concerned, appealed to "Little Sandy" McGregor, for help in the problem, Sandy set out to locate the boy, and to bring him home. He found him, and gave him a sound talking to, emphasizing his duty to his  parents and the virtues of settling down to study and getting an education then put a dollar in the youth's hand, and wished him luck When John Sandfield was at the peak of his success and popularity, he took pleasure in telling how the lecture, and the dollar given him by Little Sandy McGregor, had marked the turning-point in his behaviour and had made him realize his responsibilities. From a Book by Dorothy Dumbrille
Feb. 8. 1998, R. R.
The Glengarry News, October 23rd, 1958, pg. 1, col. 4, 5, 6, 7, & pg. 4. col. 4 & 5.
Press Release Sketches Political Life Of John Sandfield Macdonald
On Friday, October 24th, commencing at 2:20 p.m., ceremonies in connection with the unveiling of an historical plaque to commemorate John Sandfield Macdonald, will take place near his birthplace in the village of St. Raphael, Glengarry County.
This plaque is one of a series being erected throughout the province by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario, which functions under the jurisdiction of the Department of Travel and Publicity. The Board is composed of nine private citizens including professional historians and archaeologists, as well as other persons noted for their activity in promoting increased interest in local history.
Friday's ceremony is being sponsored by the Township of Charlottenburgh, and the Rev. Father Donald A. Kerr, P.P., of St. Raphael, will act as program chairman, Among those who are expected to take part in the ceremony are: the Rev. Father J. F. McCaffrey, S.J., director of the Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, a member of the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board, the Hon. Frederick M. Cass, Q. C., Ontario's Minister of Highways; Fernand Guindon, MPP (Glengarry); Osie F. Villeneuve, MP (Glengarry-Prescott); and George Brunet, reeve of Charlottenburgh. The plaque will be unveiled by Ronald Macdonald of Alexandria, a grand-nephew of Ontario's first premier.
John Sandfield Macdonald was born at St. Raphael, Glengarry, a county in which that surname is by no means uncommon on December 12th, 1812. His father, Alexander Macdonald. was a farmer, but agriculture seems to have held no attraction for the son. At an early age, Sandfield engaged in commerce and, at one time, was employed in a dry-goods store in Cornwall.
However, he soon decided that law was his proper avocation and with his end in view, he attended the Eastern District School (Cornwall Grammar School) from 1832-35. He was fortunate here to be under such a capable scholar as the Rev. Hugh Urquhart, D.D. In 1835, Macdonald was accepted as a student at law by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
He was articled to a Mr. McLean, a practising barrister in Cornwall, and later to Mr. W. H. Draper, who became Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. Macdonald was called to the Bar in 1840 and set up practice in Cornwall.
In 1841, Sandfield was elected to represent Glengarry in the legislative assembly of Canada and he sat for this constituency continually until 1857 and from 1857-1867, he sat for Cornwall. Although at the beginning of his political life he leaned toward the conservative element in the assembly, in 1844 he supported the Reform leaders against Sir Charles Metcalfe's attempt to thwart fully responsible government as proposed by Robert W. Baldwin.
From 1849-51, he was solicitor-general in the second Baldwin-Lafontaine administration. From 1852-54 he was speaker of the house and, for a short time in 1858, attorney-general for Canada West in the Brown-Dorion administration. In 1862, Macdonald joined L. V. Sicotte to head a government and from 1863 to 1864 continued to lead it in conjunction with A. A. Dorion. Although a Liberal, Macdonald had no use for George Brown and the Clear Grit wing of the Reform party.
As Confederation approached, Sandfield took a strong stand in opposition to it and to its chief proponent, John A. Macdonald. However,when Confederation became an accomplished fact he accepted it gracefully. In the tense period immediately following the establishment of the new provincial legislatures, John A., with his usual political acumen, prevailed upon Sandfield to head the first government of Ontario. The latter was as close to being an independent and objective politician as it was possible to find in Canada. He was a liberal but not radical in his philosophy; he was a Roman Catholic, but took a moderate view on controversial issues such as that relating to separate schools; he had worked during his career with men of diverse political outlooks, Above all, he was a man of integrity and courage who could be counted on to do his best to make the newly created government of Ontario a success.
The cabinet which he gathered around him in his role as Ontario's first Premier became known because of its diverse political origins as the"Patent Combination". For over four years he administered the affairs of the province with prudence and economy. Late in 1871 he was defeated by the Liberals under Edward Blake.
In his later years, Macdonald's health had been poor and he died in Cornwall on June 1st,1872. He is buried in the cemetery at St. Andrew's West.
end of article as we have it, awf, nov.9.99

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John Sandfield Macdonald 1837 Journal at the National Archives, transcribed from original be Evelyn Goulet


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