Sir John A. MacDonald call for papers – British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS)

16 09 2014

Sir John A. Macdonald: Son of Glasgow, Father of Canada
City Chambers, Glasgow, Saturday 10 January 2015
Confirmed speakers: Professor Sir Tom Devine and Professor Ged Martin

The historical connections between Scotland and Canada have long been celebrated. This one day conference will bring together a diversity of perspectives for an evaluation of the life and legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald and a timely appraisal of his links to Glasgow and Scotland. Canada’s first Prime Minister and the foremost ‘Father of Confederation’ was born in January 1815 in Glasgow.

John A. Macdonald’s family lived near the commercial heart of Glasgow – now known as the ‘Merchant City’. During this period, the area was a bustling trade hub where the city’s colonial merchants known as the ‘sugar aristocracy’ and ‘tobacco lords’ were based. Macdonald’s father, however, although based near the centre, operated a more modest textile business as a bandana merchant. Perhaps due to the economic conditions, the family sought a better life in Canada around 1820. Several questions are posed by this departure, which provides one of the two main themes for this conference. What conditions did the family live in? What were the wider motivations for Scots to emigrate? Why Canada? Macdonald’s subsequent legal and political career was certainly exceptional which provides the basis for the second theme. How did Macdonald’s Glaswegian origins influence his political outlook and career? How enduring is the Scottish imprint on Canadian political life?

Thus, whilst the conference has a specific focus on Sir John A. Macdonald’s background in Glasgow and his career in Canada, this will be placed within a wider transatlantic context. To this end we are delighted to have secured the services of two leading scholars. Professor Sir Tom Devine will address the audience on the ‘The Scottish Factor in Canadian History’ and Professor Ged Martin will speak about Macdonald and his links with Glasgow

Proposals for 20 minute papers on the above two themes are invited from both established and early career academics as well as postgraduate students. Although not limited to these suggestions, papers might include:

• The standard of living and social conditions in mercantile Glasgow
• Emigration from Scotland to Canada in the early nineteenth century
• Canadian legal training in the 1830s
• The political ascent of Macdonald
• Macdonald’s vision for Canadian unity
• Macdonald and Canada’s place in the Empire
• His legacy

Proposals should be submitted as Word documents of no more than 250 words and should be sent to Stephen Mullen, email address: no later than 29 September 2014.The proposal should contain the name of individual, title of paper, affiliation and status. Successful applicants will be notified by 13 October. Applicants requiring financial support should indicate their estimated travel and/or accommodation expenses. There are a small number of bursaries available to presenters who are postgraduates – primarily to cover their travel costs within the UK but possibly to contribute towards their accommodation costs (if any) as well. Receipts must be provided for all reimbursements. .This event is organised under the auspices of the British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS) and with the support of the Canadian High Commission and Glasgow City Council.



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