Sir John A. Macdonald’s 199th birthday celebrated with return of Heritage Minutes

Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, is shown in a an undated file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/National Archive of Canada

Canada’s first prime minister celebrates his 199th birthday this weekend. And if reputations account for anything, he’d probably still be the life of the party.

Sir John A. Macdonald will be top of mind this weekend as the nation celebrates what would be his 199th birthday and his roguish reputation is celebrated in the most Canadian of ways – by being featured in a Heritage Minute.

Canada's beloved Heritage Minute historical shorts make their return this weekend with two new mini-documentaries. One of which will feature a boozy take on Macdonald. Macdonald is known best as the hand behind Canadian confederation, and perhaps second best for his penchant for imbibing spirits.

That reputation will not go unaddressed in the Heritage Minute, which will depict Macdonald with bottle in hand. In a preview circulating online, Macdonald is depicted on board a ship bound for the Charlottetown Conference, discussing his plan to bribe conference delegates with bottles of champagne.

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Anthony Wilson-Smith, president of Historica Canada, told Postmedia News that they felt Macdonald's colourful lifestyle had to be addressed in the production, stating that "he was such a magnificently flawed person, with great vision but also a lot of foibles."

Few politicians have had the impact on Canada that Macdonald has. Born in Scotland on Jan. 11, 1815 (although there is some debate on that), his family moved to Kingston, Ont., when he was five years old. He became a lawyer and went on to guide Canada toward Confederation – the ultimate focus of his Heritage Minute.

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Despite his place in history, this is Macdonald’s first Heritage Minute. More than 70 short documentaries were been produced before the series went on hiatus seven years ago. The Scot’s 199th birthday is as good a reason as any to bring them back into broadcast.

A large handful of events scheduled across Canada this weekend, from Charlottetown, PEI to Toronto to Manitoba. Meaning no Canadian is far from a celebration, and a chance to tip a few back. Methinks MacDonald would have liked it that way.\

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