Hero, villain, celebrated, scorned. Sir John A. Macdonald was both loved and loathed during his life, and he was mostly lionized immediately after his death.
Today, the legacy of Canada’s first prime minister is coming under intense scrutiny — and rightfully so, for history is never properly served by glossing over the past.
But has the pendulum swung too far? Across the country, critics are calling for the removal of monuments to Macdonald and other controversial historical figures. Macdonald’s defenders, meanwhile, say this is akin to erasing the past. The debate is polarizing communities, but is there a way for us to move forward together?
Canada’s History has asked several prominent historians and authors to weigh Macdonald’s achievements against his failures and to explore the challenges that surround commemoration in general. Their essays offer unique and important perspectives.
They don’t all agree.
But together their insights help us to develop a deeper understanding of the complex issues at hand. We hope these essays will spark new conversations about the past.
These discussions will be challenging and at times undoubtedly uncomfortable — but it’s the only way forward.