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Alexander Mackenzie

Alexander Mackenzie (January 28, 1822 - April 17, 1892) was the second Prime Minister of Canada from November 7, 1873 to October 8, 1878. He was born in Logierait, Scotland. He immigrated to Canada in 1842 after completing an education in public schools at Perth, Moulin, and Dunkeld, Scotland. Mackenzie married Helen Neil (1826-1852) in 1845 and with her had three children, with only one girl surviving infancy. In 1853 he married Jane Sym (1825-1893). When the Macdonald government fell due to the Pacific scandal in 1873, the Governor General needed to call on someone to form a government. There was no clear leader of the Liberal Party and Mackenzie was the fourth person called upon, and the first to accept, the post of Prime Minister of Canada. Mackenzie formed a government and then asked the Govenor General (Lord Dufferin to call an election for January 1874 which the Liberals won.

Mackenzie remained prime minister until the 1878 Canadian election when the Macdonald Conservatives came back into power after winning a majority government. As Prime Minister, Alexander Mackenzie strove to reform and simplify the machinery of government. He introduced the secret ballot; created the Supreme Court of Canada; established the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario in 1874; created the Office of the Auditor General in 1878; and struggled to launch the national railway. After his government's defeat, Mackenzie remained Leader of the Opposition until 1880 when he relinquished the party leadership to Edward Blake. At the time, it was customary for the British monarch to knight all Canadian Prime Ministers. But Scottish memories run deep and Alexander Mackenzie declined all offers of a British knighthood. He died in Toronto, Ontario from a stroke which resulted from hitting his head during a fall and is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery, Sarnia, Ontario.

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