Senator John Macdonald

Senator John Macdonald - paper

Harry van Bommel, John Macdonald, Senator, 19th century, Toronto, York, Upper Canada, Ontario, Toronto General Hospital,  Coffin Block, Upper Canada College, UCC, Oliver Mowat, family history, Victoria College, University of Toronto, Metropolitan United Church, Methodist, wholesale, Timothy Eaton, Eaton's, poet, YMCA, Oaklands, Sir John A. Macdonald, George Brown, The Globe, Globe and Mail, Metropolitan Methodist Cathedral, Queen Victoria, Salvation Army, General Booth

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Senator John Macdonald 1824-1890

"…for those who have often wondered how Toronto got its name of “Toronto the Good,” no story ever answered the question better than the story of this man who became one of Toronto’s most colorful Bible-preaching millionaires."

Donald Jones (Toronto historian and journalist, The Toronto Star, May 7, 1983, H14.)

The life of Senator John Macdonald is an early example of how one immigrant can help shape both a city and a country.


He was Toronto’s most successful wholesaler, an active church promoter, a politician during the formation of Canada, a poet and a well-traveled gentleman. He was an instrumental supporter of the YMCA, Toronto General Hospital and Victoria College. His home, Oaklands, is still one of Toronto’s most beautiful mansions.

He gave fellow Methodist Timothy Eaton credit in order to convert his dry goods business to a cash-only store. Macdonald was the contemporary of some of the most important figures in early Canada including both Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald (the only Liberal Sir John A. ever appointed to the Senate) and George Brown (founder of the The Globe newspaper – today’s Globe and Mail).

Macdonald saw Queen Victoria on a visit to London and introduced General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, to the Toronto community. He helped found over 30 churches including the magnificent Metropolitan Methodist Cathedral (today’s Metropolitan United Church) in downtown Toronto.


Understanding Macdonald is to understand some important roots of today's Toronto and Canada itself. His own writings on how to succeed in business, published in this book, are as practical today for as they were 120 years ago.


Table of Contents (284-page book)


Chapter 1 Scottish Childhood

Chapter 2 Apprenticeship, Conversion and Jamaican Trip

Chapter 3 The Seeds of Success

Chapter 4 The 'Perfect' Methodist

Chapter 5 The Harvest of Life

Chapter 6 Epilogue and Conclusion


Appendix 1 Family Tree

Appendix 2 Last Will and Testament

Appendix 3 Historical Time Line

Appendix 4 The Next Generations of the Family

Appendix 5 "Business Success: What It Is and How to Secure It" 

YMCA Lecture 1872

Appendix 6 Elements Necessary to the Formation of Business Success (1872)

Appendix 7 1899 Macdonald and Co. Jubilee Catalogue (Excerpts)



Endnotes (323 notes)

Index 19 pages