Sir John A. Macdonald Gravesite National Historic Site of Canada

Kingston, Ontario
General view of Sir John A. Macdonald's gravesite, 1995. © Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1995.
General view
© Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1995.
General view of Sir John A. Macdonald's gravesite, 1995. © Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1995.General view of Sir John A. Macdonald's gravesite, 1995. © Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1995.General view of Sir John A. Macdonald's gravesite, 1995. © Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1995.
Address : 927 Purdy Mills Rd., Kingston, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1938-05-19
Dates:
  • 1891 to 1891 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Frederick J.M. Cornell  (Person)
  • David Nicol  (Person)
Other Name(s):
  • Sir John A. Macdonald Gravesite  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 2007-SDC-024

Description of Historic Place

The Sir John A. Macdonald Gravesite National Historic Site of Canada, located in Kingston’s Cataraqui Cemetery, is marked by a simple stone cross with an inscription. The cross is set within a rectangular family plot on a gentle slope surrounded by an ornate iron fence. Near the centre of the enclosed area, amongst other stone markers, a tall granite obelisk bears the names of Macdonald and Williamson, the two inter-related families in the plot. Sir John A. Macdonald is also memorialized by a small rectangular inscribed footstone, and a small metal plaque with his name attached to the plot’s iron gate. Official recognition refers to the Macdonald family plot bounded by the wrought iron fence.

Heritage Value

The Sir John A. Macdonald Gravesite was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1938 because: it is the burial place of Sir John A. Macdonald, a Father of Confederation and Canada's first Prime Minister.

The Sir John A. Macdonald Gravesite is associated with the man who dominated the political life of Canada during its first quarter of a century. Macdonald was a visionary statesman, a determined Conservative partisan, and a well-respected leader. His policies of westward expansion and of railways to the Atlantic and Pacific laid the basis of a successful transcontinental nation. Macdonald died while still prime minister in Ottawa on June 6th, 1891. Having spent most of his life in Kingston, his body was transported back there to be buried in his family plot in the Cataraqui cemetery. A simple stone cross marks his grave, as he wished.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1938, October 2007.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include: its location in a rectangular, fenced family plot amongst other headstones, set on a gentle south-facing slope, within a landscaped cemetery; the granite cross commemorating John A. Macdonald with his name and dates of birth and death embossed on the front of its support; the tall granite obelisk near the centre of the plot with John A. Macdonald’s name and dates of birth and death embossed on the front of its supports; the small, rectangular footstone with John A. MacDonald’s name, age, parentage, and date of death; the name plate of metal painted black with John A. Macdonald’s name in white lettering attached to the gate; the ornate, black painted cast iron fence with ornate corner posts which marks the boundaries of the Macdonald plot.