Individual Page


Family
Marriage: Children:
  1. Isabell Louise MacPherson: Birth: ABT. 1846.

  2. Elizabeth Francis MacPherson: Birth: ABT. 1850.

  3. William Molson MacPherson: Birth: 1860.


Sources
1. Title:   molson052305.FTW

Notes
a. Note:   NI090311
Note:   [molson052305.FTW] A pioneering businessman, railroad contractor and expert on public finance, the Hon. Sir David Macpherson�s tenure as Speaker from 1880-1883 was plagued by ill-health and ended with his return to more active politics as Minister of the Interior. Nevertheless, both as a businessman and Speaker, he had a reputation for hospitality and made the Speaker�s chambers a centre of society. David Lewis Macpherson was born in Scotland and educated at the Royal Academy of Inverness. At the age of 17 he came to Montreal where his older brother was senior partner in a successful forwarding company. Macpherson, Crane and Company conveyed goods by wagon and ship throughout the Canadas before the advent of railway transport. He went to work for his brother�s firm, first as a clerk and later as a partner. His association with the transportation industry was strengthened by his marriage into the Molson family of Montreal who were pioneers in steam navigation and railroads as well as finance. David Macpherson himself was quick to realize the potential of the railway age. In 1851, with Alexander Galt and L.H. Holton he applied for a charter to build a line between Montreal and Kingston. By 1853, the associates had joined Casimir Gzowski�s contracting firm which was to handle much of the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway. The connection with this company brought him considerable wealth and influence in the business circles of Toronto, where he moved, as well as Montreal. During the course of his career he was to hold directorships in a number of companies, including Molson�s Bank, the Western Canada Permanent Building and Savings Society and the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway. He was also, at various times, a member of the Corporation of Hellmuth College, London, a vice-president of the Montreal Board of Trade and president of the St. Andrew�s Society of Toronto. Mr. Macpherson entered politics in 1864, running successfully for a seat in the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada. An imposing figure, he spoke with authority on public matters relating to finance and commerce, but remained too much the practical businessman to be entirely comfortable with party politics. Called to the Senate in 1867, he made noteworthy speeches on Confederation and on the settlement of Crown waste lands. In 1868, Senator Macpherson was named to a commission, with the mandate under the BNA Act, to divide the outstanding public debts and assets of the previous union between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. His performance as an arbitrator representing Ontario, was praised for its impartiality. The following year he published a widely-circulated pamphlet on banking and currency. Upon British Columbia�s admission to the Dominion in 1871, Senator Macpherson formed the Inter-Oceans Railway Company to bid for the contract to build a transcontinental railway. This prize was awarded to a rival company headed by Sir Hugh Allan, but the contract was nullified with the defeat of Sir John A. Macdonald�s Conservative government in 1873. Despite disappointment about the lost contract, Senator Macpherson continued to support the Conservatives, quickly emerging as one of the most formidable critics of Alexander Mackenzie�s Liberal government. His speech of 19 March 1878, attacking that government�s public expenditure policy, was published in pamphlet form and distributed as part of the Conservatives� campaign literature. Equally effective was the denunciation, in the Senate, of the Liberals� public works projects, particularly with respect to the Fort Francis dock. Appointed Speaker in February 1880, Senator Macpherson served only a few days before ill-health caused him to step down; he was able to resume his duties by the following April. On the role of Senate Speaker, a contemporary source observed that: This is a position, which, by tradition, calls for not only political but social gifts of a high order, for Mr. Speaker�s chambers are a centre of Society during the session of Parliament. Senator Macpherson�s courtly and hospitable fulfilment of these obligations were considered to be exemplary. Senator Macpherson resigned the speakership in October 1883 to accept the position of Minister of the Interior. He was knighted the following year, but was forced to retire in 1885, due to continued ill-health and criticism over his handling of the Northwest Rebellion. In his later years, Senator Macpherson took little part in politics or in business affairs. He died in 1896 while crossing the Atlantic on the SS Labrador.


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