Among British Columbia’s First Senators

Plaque 55 Tory

Plaque 55

William Macdonald

William Macdonald

William John Macdonald (1832 -1916) was a Canadian merchant and politician. Borne in Aird, Skye, Inverness-shire, Scotland. He married Catherine Balfour Reid, (1841-1914).

The couple migrated from the UK to the then separate colony of Vancouver Island in 1850 along with 120 -140 fellow passengers aboard the Tory, a 130 x 25 foot barque. The 18,020 kilometer voyage took seven months. They arrived in Victoria in 1851. Macdonald had been engaged as a clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company which at that time ruled Vancouver Island under a grant from the British Government.

Political Career

Macdonald served in the colonial legislature prior to Confederation and twice as Victoria’s mayor, first in 1866-1867, then again in 1871.

A Conservative, he was among the first British Columbians appointed to the Canadian Senate on 13 December 1871 on the recommendation of Sir John A. Macdonald. He served on the Standing Committee on Railways, Telegraphs and Harbours, among others and represented the Senatorial Division of Victoria until his resignation on 13 April 1915.

William Macdonald died 25 Oct 1916 in Oak Bay and is buried at Ross Bay Cemetery.