Alexander Mackenzie


Alexander Mackenzie : biography

28 January 1822 – 17 April 1892

As Prime Minister, Alexander Mackenzie strove to reform and simplify the machinery of government. He introduced the secret ballot; advised the creation of the Supreme Court of Canada; the establishment of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston in 1874; the creation of the Office of the Auditor General in 1878; and struggled to continue progress on the national railway.

However, his term was marked by economic depression that had grown out of the Panic of 1873, which Mackenzie’s government was unable to alleviate. In 1874, Mackenzie negotiated a new free trade agreement with the United States, eliminating the high protective tariffs on Canadian goods in US markets. However, this action did not bolster the economy, and construction of the CPR slowed drastically due to lack of funding. In 1876 the Conservative opposition announced a National Policy of protective tariffs, which resonated with voters. When an election was held at the conclusion of Mackenzie’s five-year term, the Conservatives were swept back into office in a landslide victory.

After his government’s defeat, Mackenzie remained Leader of the Opposition for another two years, until 1880. He remained an MP until his death in 1892 from a stroke that resulted from hitting his head during a fall. He died in Toronto and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Sarnia, Ontario.

In their 1999 study of the Prime Ministers of Canada, which included the results of a survey of Canadian historians, J.L. Granatstein and Norman Hillmer found that Mackenzie was in the #11 place just after John Sparrow David Thompson.


Mackenzie Building at the [[Royal Military College of Canada]] The following are named in honour of Alexander Mackenzie:

  • The Mackenzie Mountain Range in the Yukon & Northwest Territories.
  • The Mackenzie building, and the use of the Mackenzie tartan by the bands at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. `Alexander Mackenzie`, the Royal Military College of Canada March for bagpipes, was composed in his honour by Pipe Major Don M. Carrigan, who was the College Pipe Major 1973 to 1985.Archie Cairns – Bk1 Pipe Music ‘Alexander Mackenzie’ (Slow March) by Pipe Major Don M. Carrigan 1995
  • Mackenzie Hall in Windsor, Ontario.
  • Alexander MacKenzie Park in Sarnia, Ontario.
  • Alexander Mackenzie High School in Sarnia, Ontario.
  • Alexander MacKenzie Housing Co-Operative Inc. in Sarnia, Ontario.
  • A monument is dedicated to his tomb in Lakeview Cemetery, Sarnia, Ontario

Supreme Court appointments

A painting of Mackenzie. Mackenzie chose the following jurists to be appointed as justices of the Supreme Court of Canada by the Governor General:

  • Sir William Buell Richards (Chief Justice) – September 30, 1875
  • Télesphore Fournier – September 30, 1875
  • William Alexander Henry – September 30, 1875
  • Sir William Johnstone Ritchie – September 30, 1875
  • Sir Samuel Henry Strong – September 30, 1875
  • Jean-Thomas Taschereau – September 30, 1875
  • Sir Henri Elzear Taschereau – October 7, 1878