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Macdonald and Canada’s Ten Dollar Bill

Sir John A Macdonald

photo credit: KMR Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Apparently, I’m not alone in my ignorance of those iconic faces on Canada’s bank notes. According to an Ipsos Reid poll, one in four Canadians doesn’t recognize the person on the 10-dollar bill as Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister.

John A. Facts

John Alexander Macdonald was originally from Scotland but grew up in Kingston, Ontario. His personal life was plagued by several tragedies, including the loss of his wife and a terminally ill daughter.

  • born January 11, 1815, in Glasgow, Scotland; died June 6, 1891, in Ottawa, Ontario
  • opened his own law office at the age of 19, two years before being officially called to the bar
  • a member of the Conservative Party and second-longest non-consecutive serving prime minister, over 18 years 359 days – 1867 to 1873 and 1878 to 1891
  • originally against federalism but came to understand that unifying Canada and implementing constitutional change was the only way to accommodate the strong racial, religious, and regional differences of the times
  • noted for his transcontinental railway plans; the role he played in Confederation; maintaining Canada’s connection to Britain; and a number of controversial policies including the one responsible for the implementation of residential schools

Ten-Dollar Bill Facts

Sir John A. Macdonald first appeared on Canada’s $10 bill in 1971. He will be replaced in 2018 by a new regularly circulating ten-dollar bill featuring Viola Desmond, civil rights activist and business woman from Nova Scotia.But John A. won’t be disappearing from Canadian money – he’s being moved to a higher denomination in future new releases. Macdonald also appears on the commemorative $10 banknote to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation along with three other influential Canadians.

Winnipeg Connection

Hugh John Macdonald, lawyer, Member of Parliament, and Premier of Manitoba, was the son of the prime minister. He moved to Winnipeg in 1882 after the death of his first wife. Hugh John built Dalnavert in 1895, where he died in 1929.


  1. John A. Macdonald: 1 in 4 don’t know that guy from the $10 bill
  2. John A. Macdonald
  3. Sir John A. Macdonald
  4. Memorable Manitobans: Hugh John Macdonald (1850 to 1929)
  5. Bank of Canada

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