The Old Chieftain's New Image: Shaping the Public Memory of Sir John A. Macdonald in Ontario and Quebec, 1891-1967
Pelletier, Yves Y.
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Sir John A. Macdonald has been a political figure frequently referenced in Canadian history. Yet no study has explored the evolution of his public memory. This study provides a focused examination of the attempts by Canada’s federal political parties to shape Macdonald’s public memory. The period of study began immediately following the death of Sir John A. Macdonald on June 6, 1891 and continued until the Centennial Celebrations of Confederation in 1967. The study first aims to identify and analyze events and activities organized or supported by Canada’s federal political class which allowed them opportunities to shape Macdonald’s public memory. The study then explores through the lens of official memory their motivation to engage in his commemoration and to shape his memory in specific ways. The objective of this study is to answer two specific research questions. The first asked if Canada’ federal political leaders were interested and successful in shaping Macdonald’s public memory during the period of study to allow the emergence of a seemingly national hegemonic figure acceptable to both political parties. The second asked if the federal political parties’ attempts to depict Macdonald as a unifying national symbol were picked up in the media in Ontario and Quebec and in both official languages, thereby reinforcing his hegemonic status for the federal political class. The study argues that Macdonald became on a single occasion a seemingly national hegemonic figure acceptable to both political parties and to the media in both official language communities in Ontario and Quebec.