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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. David Lewis Macpherson
P.C., K.C.M.G. (1880) (1880–1883)

A Scottish-born railway entrepreneur and financier, David Macpherson was a largely self-made businessman with firm views on public issues. Running for election in 1864 for the first and only time, he was successful in gaining a seat in the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada, and a place in the Great Coalition of co-Premiers Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché and John A. Macdonald.

In 1867, Macpherson was appointed to the Senate. Sir John A. Macdonald felt that Macpherson’s financial acumen and organizational skills would be useful to the Liberal Conservative government. Within five years Macpherson found himself at odds with Macdonald over trade and banking policy, and had begun writing pamphlets about public expenditures, of which at least nine have survived. When later reconciled with Macdonald’s economic policies, he wrote another pamphlet that was considered to have played an important role in the 1878 election.

Two years later, on February 11, 1880, Macdonald appointed him to the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio and simultaneously as Speaker of the Senate. Five days later, however, Senator Amos Botsford was appointed in his place because of Macpherson’s ill health. When Macpherson regained his health two months later, he was once more appointed Speaker. His tenure as Speaker ended in 1883 when Macdonald appointed him Minister of the Interior. Historians claim that his mishandling of that portfolio was a factor that led to the North-West Rebellion in 1885.

Macpherson became the father-in-law of the Speaker of the House of Commons in 1883 when George Kirkpatrick married his daughter.

Next Speaker: Hon. William Miller

Previous Speaker: Hon. Robert Duncan Wilmot

Portrait of the Honourable David Lewis Macpherson

Born: Inverness, Scotland, 1818

Died: At sea en route to Canada; buried in Toronto, 1896

Professional Background:
Business, Law

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: