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Canadian History
Alexander Mackinnon Burgess

Ottawa, Deputy Minister of the Interior of Canada, was born on the 21st of October, 1850, at Strathspey, Inverness-shire, Scotland. He is a son of John Burgess, by Ann Davidson, nee Mackinnon. Young Burgess was educated at the parish school of Advie, at the Grammar School or Aberdeen, and at the University of Aberdeen. His first public office was of editor and chief reporter of the debated of the House of Commons, at the inception of the official reports in 1875, and as editor and chief reporter of the debates of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada in 1876. On the 1st of November, 1876, he was appointed private secretary to the Honourable David Mills, then Minister of the Interior, and on the 1st July, 1883, was created deputy Minister of the Interior. Mr. Burgess has visited Manitoba and the North-West territories, on various occasions, in connection with his official duties in the Department of the Interior; and he also visited Washington in the winter of 1885 on official business. On the 7th July, 1873, Mr. Burgess married Maggie Beatrice Anderson, daughter of Thomas Anderson, of Portsoy, Scotland, poet and publisher. Before coming to Canada, Mr. Burgess was a clerk in the employment of the great North of Scotland railway in 1867. He joined the press of Scotland in 1869, and on his arrival in this country, in 1871, became a member of the reporting staff of the Toronto Globe. He attended the sessions of parliament in that capacity in 1872, 1873, and 1874. He became editor of the Ottawa Times, on the 1st July, 1874, and subsequently purchased that newspaper from McLean, Roger & Company, parliamentary printers, but sold it to Issac B. Taylor in the summer of 1876. Very soon thereafter, as already states, he entered the civil service as private secretary to the Hon. David Mills. Much might be added to the table of events in the career of Mr. Burgess; but the editor will content himself with adding the testimony of those well qualified to speak respecting our subject's official qualities. These, we believe, are well known to be painstaking zeal in office, and courtesy , fair dealing, and efficient administration as a public servant.

I have just read your online biography of Alexander Burgess, and wish to draw to your attention the following extract from the parish register of Cromdale, Inverallan and Advie:

"Alexander son of John Burgess, mason, Balibeg of Advie and Ann Mackinnon his spouse was born 21st October 1849."

In other words, Alexander Mackinnon Burgess was the son of Ann Mackinnon, (hence the middle name which he seems to have adopted in later life) and he was born in 1849 not 1850. The Canadian National Library article says that his mother was Ann Davidson, but I have seen no evidence to support this and I suspect it to be an error.

Should you wish to verify this information, you can view the original parish register online at

Yours faithfully

Anne Burgess (no relation!)

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