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Canadian History
Honourable Sir David Lewis Macpherson


K. C. M. G., P. C., Toronto, was born in Scotland on the 12th of September, 1818. He comes of an ancient and sturdy Scottish family, and in the markedly successful career which has been his, exhibits the characteristics of his race. Our subject went to school in Scotland, and completed his education at the Inverness Royal Academy. In 1835, with the thousands of others who were at this time turning their faces towards the New World, he set sail, resolved to try his fortune in Canada. Here was a new country large with promise and holding out encouraging, nay, beseeching hands to courage and enterprise. Young Macpherson was just the man for such a field. It would be difficult at this distance to lay hold of every fact which would show the main-springs of his success; but the chief results stand out. Early in his career he took an earnest interest in public questions; and in 1864, three years before Confederation, at the solicitation of many, friends he offered himself, and was successful for the Sangeen Division, Lower Canada. He held his seat in the old Canadian Parliament as member for Sangeen, till 1867, when he was called by Royal Proclamation to the Senate. He has now amassed much wealth, was prominently connected with enterprises of national importance, and stood in high repute among his fellow-countrymen. It will be remembered that after the passage of the Act authorising the Canadian Government to enter into contract with any Company for the building of a railway from ocean to ocean, under the terms of the agreement with British Columbia, Mr. Macpherson was the means of forming, and was appointed president of an association known as the Interoceanic Railway Company incorporated for the purpose of constructing this great railway. The Government however did not conclude terms with the company, but gave the preference, subsequently, to the organization under the control of Sir Hugh Allan. Early in his commercial career Mr. Macpherson associated himself with the well-known firm of Gzowaki & Co., contractors, who, it will be remembered, constructed several branches of Canadian railways, and other important works. Mr. Macpherson's judgment upon public questions, especially those relating to finance, commerce and kindred subjects, have always been held in the highest regard. In 1868, he was appointed arbitrator for the Province of Ontario, under the British North American Act, "for the division and adjustment of the debts, credits, liabilities and properties of Upper and Lower Canada". He was likewise vice-president of the Montreal Board of Trade. He was taken a deep interest in several social organizations and commercial institutions. he is a director of Molsons Bank; of the Western Canada Permanent Loan and Savings Company; of the Guarantee Company of North America, and has been president of the St. Andrew's Society, Toronto. Mr. Macpherson has exhibited a special talent for controversy on financial and commercial questions; his contributions to the literature on these matters have been very important. In 1869, he published a sounds, lucid and comprehensive pamphlet on Banking and Currency; and between the years of 1877 and 1882, he published a number of works on kindred topics, dealing in the same searching and satisfactory manner with questions relating to public expenditure. On the 10th of February, 1880, Mr. Macpherson was appointed Speaker of the Senate, and member of the Executive Council without portfolio, and this position he held till the 17th of October, 1883, when he resigned the speakership and was appointed Minister of the Interior. His long and important services in the country, both in politics and commerce, pointed him our as one deserving of such additional honour as the Crown is in the habit of bestowing upon those who have served in the state honourably and with success, therefore, it was with no surprise that, in 1884, it was learned that Her Majesty had been pleased to confer the order of Knighthood upon the Honourable Mr. Macpherson. Our subject married in June, 1844, Miss Elizabeth Sarah, eldest daughter of William Molson, Esquire, of Montreal, and grand-daughter of the Hon. John Molson, who had been a member of the Executive Council of Lower Canada, and president of the Bank of Montreal. Latterly Sir David's health has not been good, and he has been obliged to resign (1885) his position as Minister of the Interior, and seek rest abroad from the gnawing cares of political and commercial business. Sir David is a very tall, and has a dignified and commanding appearance. One of his daughters, Miss Isabel, is married to the Hon. George Kirkpatrick, Speaker of the House of Commons.


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