William Lyon Mackenzie

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Last updated: February 18, 2019

William Lyon Mackenzie, the only child of Daniel Mackenzie and Elizabeth Chalmers, was born on March 12, 1795 at Springfield, Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland[1]. He was the very first mayor of Toronto, a politician and journalist as well[2].Life AccountsIn was in 1820 that William Lyon Mackenzie arrived in Upper Canada and on May 1824, he was able to in print the first issue of the Colonial Advocate that voices new reform movement.

The Colonial Advocate brought fights between Mackenzie and members of the official party, the oligarchies, which also lead to destruction of Mackenzie’s printing office. Mackenzie was elected to Canadian Parliament for York County in the year 1828. He was popular for his passionate criticism of the Family Compact as well as for his forceful manner. (Russell 2008)In his newspaper, Mackenzie addressed towards the majority in the assembly for the violent actions of the official party.

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The newspaper articles were viewed as libelous by the official party in which the representative of the newspaper was punished for Mackenzie’s act. There was an attempt to address the incapability, as seen by the majority in the official party, of Mackenzie to take a place in the assembly. However, although he was expelled five times, his re-election could not be prevented. Then in 1836he was chosen to be the first mayor of Toronto. (Canadian History No Date)Mackenzie was once again elected to the provincial parliament in 1834. However, in 1836, he was defeated at the polls that brought Mackenzie to turn his attention to armed revolt.

Believing that he would gain support, Mackenzie led an expedition towards Toronto on December 6, 1837. The intention of the expedition seemed more with the intention to damage than to take control of the government though. However, as Mackenzie’s force was nearing Toronto, the loyalist guards were blocking their way. The guards were able to dispersed Mackenzie’s force with few shots and on December 7 of the same year, the rebels were defeated by the loyalists. Thus, Mackenzie was forced to flee to the United States where he tried to conduct a new scheme from the Navy Island but was attacked by the Canadian Militia that caused the rebel’s supply ship to sink. (Russell 2008)Then Mackenzie moved to New York and founded the Mackenzie’s Gazette but he was imprisoned for a year due to violation of US neutrality laws. Mackenzie spent the next 10 years of his life in the US working for the New York Daily Tribune as a journalist.

During his time in prison, Mackenzie was able to write several books such as “The Sons of the Emerald Isle”, “The Lives and Opinion of Benjamin Franklin Butler and Jesse Hoyt” and “The life and times of Martin Van Buren”(Russell 2008).After receiving pardon from the government through the help and influence of his friend Mr. Hume, Mackenzie was able to regain his career as a politician and as a journalist. He served as MLA for Haldimand after defeating George Brown. He continued to hold his position in the assembly until his resignation in 1858. He was also able to publish a political squib known as “Mackenzie’s Weekly Message”. Mackenzie died on the 28 of August 1861 at his home in Toronto, Canada West.

(Canadian History No Date)William Lyon Mackenzie was a minister that plays an important role in the History of Canada. As a proof of the respect and honor given to him by the citizens, the country still have documents and other memorabilia of the minister. The impact that he had made was also exceptional in the transformation of the government and the community as a whole. There are also certain institutions that were named after Mackenzie that still lives in the present time. In addition, William Lyon Mackenzie was the grandfather of Canada’s longest serving prime minister during the 2nd World War, William Lyon Mackenzie King. This also proves that being a historical figure was really on their blood (Wikipedia 2008).

Mackenzie really does played an important role in the history of Canada especially in the field of politics. The impact created by Mackenzie is very important in the study of Upper Canada’s reform movement as well as the significance of the reformers in the era before the Confederation in the year 1867 (Canadian Confederation 2005).As mentioned earlier, there are institutions that were named after Mackenzie. These include a Toronto High School, William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute[3]. The mascot of the said school was also named “Lyon” as a tribute to Mackenzie. A fireboat of Toronto Fire Services was also named in the honor of Mackenzie, the William Lyon Mackenzie (fireboat)[4].

This proves that the respect of the people for Mackenzie still remains in the contemporary time. His deeds and influence were really not forgotten that is also one of the main reasons why this nomination was madeExisting MemorabiliaMackenzie’s papers are also being valued up to this time. There are two major collection of Mackenzie’s document; 1) PAO (Mackenzie-Lindsey papers), which Mackenzie collected himself and 2) the PAC which are collected by William Lyon Mackenzie King[5]. Although most of the papers that Mackenzie collected were destroyed by his family during the time of the rebellion for Mackenzie’s safety, there are still some papers that remained and are valued today. Other Mackenzie documents were reproduced from American collections.

Such documents were copied from the papers of William Henry Seward in the library of the University of Rochester in New York. There are some of Mackenzie’s papers that remain like the Lesslie papers that can be found in the Dundas Hist. Soc. Museum and the PAC, MG 24 and B1 that are in the John Neilson Col.The PAC, MG 24 and B40 or the George Brown papers contain the Mackenzie’s papers in his later journey in life. There are also three papers that were included in the Pac that contain the opinions of various people regarding Mackenzie’s conduct in the time of the rebellion. However, the PAO also contained papers from the rebellion that also included a critical review about Mackenzie in that era and materials from his later career as well.

These papers were contained in the John Rolph papers. On the other hand, the David Gibson Papers (at the PAO) contains materials that that concerns the rebellion as well as Mackenzie’s involvement.W. D. Le Sueur also wrote a biography of Mackenzie but the material was only available in typescript. This biography contains Mackenzie’s political career and can be seen at the Pac, the PAO and at the University of Toronto Archives. However, the said paper was never published because the contents are said to misinterpret materials found in the Mackenzie-Lindsey papers.There are also a lot of primary sources with regards to the life of William Lyon Mackenzie coming from various publications of the government and institutions where he was a member.

Such institutions include the Upper Canada, House of Assembly. Another account was edited by S. F. Wise in 1969, the “A Narrative” by F. B. Head in 1839. Aside from materials/papers written by different persons on the life of Mackenzie, There are also written materials written by Mackenzie himself.

On the other hand, newspapers in which Mackenzie had been a part are also very valuable sources. These include of course the Colonial Advocate, the Mackenzie’s Gazette and Mackenzie’s Weekly Message. There are also other newspapers that could be consulter such as the Canadian Correspondent that was edited by William John O’ Grady. The Christian Guardian by Egerton Ryerson in 1839 on the other reveals Mackenzie’s activities in a Methodist view.Not only are there materials in Promoting the side of Mackenzie but there are materials that are against Mackenzie. One example is the “Canadian Freeman” which opposed Mackenzie that was edited by Francis Collins. Another opposition to Mackenzie is the “Patriot and Farmers’ Monitor” by Thomas Dalton in 1828.

“Reformer” and as well as the “Courier of Upper Canada” are also materials that opposed Mackenzie, edited by George Gurnette. Regarding Mackenzie, there are really a lot of materials that can be found whether it be for or against him. This only shows that Mackenzie was indeed a very popular and important person in the history of Canada especially in politics.

Up to the present time, the legacy and influence of William Lyon Mackenzie still lives. Indeed, he is a very important person in the history of Canada.

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