Here a scandal, there a scandal: More fodder for cartoonists

Movie clip on the Pacific Scandal, which erupted in 1873 in connection with the building of the transcontinental railway and Sir John A. Macdonald’s Conservative Party. The movie clip also touches on the sponsorship scandal involving the Liberal Party of Canada, which was investigated by a Commission of Inquiry in 2004–2005. (Time: 3 min 57 s)

After its re-election in 1872 the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) launched a project to build a transcontinental railway to link all regions of Canada. In the West, British Columbia had demanded the railway as a condition of joining Confederation. Macdonald awarded the construction contract to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), which stood to receive a $30,000,000 subsidy as well as 20,000 hectares of land.

However, in April 1873 the Liberal Party accused the prime minister of accepting $360,000 from Hugh Allan (1860-1951), a director of the CPR, shipping magnate and financier, to finance his election campaign. Macdonald denied the whole thing, but the bubble burst in July. The Liberal Party sent newspapers a copy of a telegram from Macdonald to Allan: “I must have another $10,000. Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me. Answer today.” Driven to the wall, the prime minister resigned on November 5, 1873.

The affair, known as the Pacific Scandal, revealed the extent to which business interests had infiltrated Canadian politics. It also launched the career of one of Canada’s greatest cartoonists, J. W. Bengough (1851-1923), who took advantage of the scandal to found the satirical weekly newspaper Grip (1873-1894).

Echoes of this event sounded with the Sponsorship Scandal of 2004-2005. More than a century after the Conservative Party was found guilty of corruption, it was the federal Liberal Party that was called up on the stand. While in power the federal Liberals were accused of misdirecting public funds during an advertising campaign known as the Sponsorship Program. Launched in 1997, the campaign was intended to increase the visibility of the Canadian government in Quebec and to raise Canada’s profile among Quebecers.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were distributed using ad agencies as intermediaries. The latter redirected a large chunk of what they received to the campaign coffers of the Liberal Party of Canada. The fraud, revealed during a 2004-2005 government inquiry, involved ad agencies as well as elected politicians and high-ranking federal civil servants. Although former prime minister Jean Chrétien (1934-) emerged unscathed, cartoonists skewered him, like they once had Macdonald.

These two examples show that some of Canada’s leaders have committed fraud in the name of national unity. While claiming to be protecting the public interest, they served, by their deeds and actions, the private interests of their respective political parties. These cases illustrate the vulnerability of political institutions and the crucial role played by public opinion, through the revelations that came to light in the press and the public inquiries.

19th-20th Century
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


After its re-election in 1872 the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) launched a project to build a transcontinental railway to link all regions of Canada. In the West, British Columbia had demanded the railway as a condition of joining Confederation. Macdonald awarded the construction contract to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), which stood to receive a $30,000,000 subsidy as well as 20,000 hectares of land.

However, in April 1873 the Liberal Party accused the prime minister of accepting $360,000 from Hugh Allan (1860-1951), a director of the CPR, shipping magnate and financier, to finance his election campaign. Macdonald denied the whole thing, but the bubble burst in July. The Liberal Party sent newspapers a copy of a telegram from Macdonald to Allan: “I must have another $10,000. Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me. Answer today.” Driven to the wall, the prime minister resigned on November 5, 1873.

The affair, known as the Pacific Scandal, revealed the extent to which business interests had infiltrated Canadian politics. It also launched the career of one of Canada’s greatest cartoonists, J. W. B Read More

After its re-election in 1872 the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) launched a project to build a transcontinental railway to link all regions of Canada. In the West, British Columbia had demanded the railway as a condition of joining Confederation. Macdonald awarded the construction contract to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), which stood to receive a $30,000,000 subsidy as well as 20,000 hectares of land.

However, in April 1873 the Liberal Party accused the prime minister of accepting $360,000 from Hugh Allan (1860-1951), a director of the CPR, shipping magnate and financier, to finance his election campaign. Macdonald denied the whole thing, but the bubble burst in July. The Liberal Party sent newspapers a copy of a telegram from Macdonald to Allan: “I must have another $10,000. Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me. Answer today.” Driven to the wall, the prime minister resigned on November 5, 1873.

The affair, known as the Pacific Scandal, revealed the extent to which business interests had infiltrated Canadian politics. It also launched the career of one of Canada’s greatest cartoonists, J. W. Bengough (1851-1923), who took advantage of the scandal to found the satirical weekly newspaper Grip (1873-1894).

Echoes of this event sounded with the Sponsorship Scandal of 2004-2005. More than a century after the Conservative Party was found guilty of corruption, it was the federal Liberal Party that was called up on the stand. While in power the federal Liberals were accused of misdirecting public funds during an advertising campaign known as the Sponsorship Program. Launched in 1997, the campaign was intended to increase the visibility of the Canadian government in Quebec and to raise Canada’s profile among Quebecers.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were distributed using ad agencies as intermediaries. The latter redirected a large chunk of what they received to the campaign coffers of the Liberal Party of Canada. The fraud, revealed during a 2004-2005 government inquiry, involved ad agencies as well as elected politicians and high-ranking federal civil servants. Although former prime minister Jean Chrétien (1934-) emerged unscathed, cartoonists skewered him, like they once had Macdonald.

These two examples show that some of Canada’s leaders have committed fraud in the name of national unity. While claiming to be protecting the public interest, they served, by their deeds and actions, the private interests of their respective political parties. These cases illustrate the vulnerability of political institutions and the crucial role played by public opinion, through the revelations that came to light in the press and the public inquiries.

REFERENCES

Beauregard, Yves. “ Les grands scandales politiques d’hier à aujourd’hui.” Cap-aux-Diamants, special edition “Scandales,” 83 (fall 2005) : p. 36-39.

Creighton, Donald. John A. Macdonald : The Old Chiefton. Volume II. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1998 (1955).

Dempsey, Hugh. The CPR West: The Iron Road and the Making of a Nation. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1984.

Finlay, J. L. and D. N. Sprague. “Scandal.” In The Structure of Canadian History. Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall, 4th edition, 1993, p. 204-205.

Innis, Harold Adams. A History of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971.



Stewart, Gordon, T. “Political Patronage under Macdonald and Laurier 1878-1911.” American Review of Canadian Studies 10 (1980): p. 3-26.

Waite, P. B. Sir John A Macdonald. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1999.

Waite, P. B. “Pacific Scandal.” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online].
[http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006041 ] (page consulted May 20, 2007).

“Le train des pères de la Confédération,” Scandales dans les coulisses du pouvoir. Les Archives de Radio-Canada [online].
[http://archives.radio-canada.ca/IDC-0-17-1692 11638/politique_economie/scandales_politiques/clip1] (page consulted May 20, 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.69 :""Canada's Laocoon"; or, Virgil on the Political situation"

Cartoon depicting three men involved in the Pacific Scandal: Hugh Allan, who donated money to finance the Conservative Party’s electoral campaign in 1872, Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and Minister of Finance Francis Hincks. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1873-07-19
M994X.5.273.69
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, July 19th, 1873 : "An adaptation of the classical story of Laocoon and the serpents to the circumstances of some of the parties to what was already known as the "Pacific Scandal." The persons represented are Sir Hugh Allan, (to whom the charter was sold), Sir John Macdonald, and Sir Francis Hincks. It is due to the latter gentleman to point out that, as indicated in the cartoon, he was merely "suspected" of complicity in the matter, and most emphatically denied the truth of the allegation of his guilt, made in some of the newspapers."1

In 1873 Canadian newspapers were hot on the trail of a political scandal. In April the Liberals accused the Conservatives of corruption. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) was alleged to have pocketed a large amount of money from Hugh Allan (1810-1882), president of Canada Pacific Railway, to finance his 1872 election campaign. In exchange for this ”bribe,” Macdonald promised to award the CPR the contract to build the railway that would link Ea Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, July 19th, 1873 :

  • "An adaptation of the classical story of Laocoon and the serpents to the circumstances of some of the parties to what was already known as the "Pacific Scandal." The persons represented are Sir Hugh Allan, (to whom the charter was sold), Sir John Macdonald, and Sir Francis Hincks. It is due to the latter gentleman to point out that, as indicated in the cartoon, he was merely "suspected" of complicity in the matter, and most emphatically denied the truth of the allegation of his guilt, made in some of the newspapers."1

In 1873 Canadian newspapers were hot on the trail of a political scandal. In April the Liberals accused the Conservatives of corruption. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) was alleged to have pocketed a large amount of money from Hugh Allan (1810-1882), president of Canada Pacific Railway, to finance his 1872 election campaign. In exchange for this ”bribe,” Macdonald promised to award the CPR the contract to build the railway that would link Eastern Canada to British Columbia. In July several newspapers published proof of the allegations: a telegram from Macdonald begging Hugh Allan to send him money.

This cartoon from July 1873 draws an analogy between the events surrounding the Pacific Scandal and the tragic death of Laocoon, a figure from Greek mythology. Hugh Allan is the main character in the cartoon: Laocoon. In Virgil’s epic poem “The Aeneid,” Laocoon is a Trojan priest who infuriated Apollo and was strangled by snakes, along with his two sons. The Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and Francis Hincks (1807-1885), then minister of finance, are depicted here as Allan’s “sons.”

What
The story accompanying the cartoon reads: ”When lo! Two snakes (perhaps from the Yankee shore), together trail their folds across the floor, with precious scandals reared in front they wind, charge after charge, in long drawn length behind! While opposition benches cheer the while, and John A. smiles a very ghastly smile!- and – Everybody knows the rest!”

Where
The cartoon was published in Toronto in the weekly satirical magazine, Grip. The magazine was launched in 1873 in the aftermath of the Pacific Scandal by the artist John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923).

When
At the time that the cartoon was published, Macdonald’s government and minister of finance, Francis Hincks, had not yet resigned.

Who
Sir Hugh Allan is in the middle of the cartoon. Then Canada’s most important entrepreneur, he had made a fortune as president of the Allan Lines, a transatlantic shipping company. Prime Minister Macdonald is standing on Allan’s left, while Francis Hincks, minister of finance, is on his left.

REFERENCES

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, John A.,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40370&query=john%20AND%20a%20AND%20macdonald] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

Mills, David. “Hincks, Francis,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online] [http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0003772] (page consulted April 25, 2007).

McCallum, Margaret E. “Allan, Hugh.” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0000147] (page consulted April 25, 2007).

Waite, P. B. “Pacific Scandal,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006041] (page consulted May 15, 2007).

Young, Brian J. and Tulchinsky, Gérald J. J. “Allan, Sir Hugh,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=39458&query=Hugh%20AND%20Allan] (page consulted April 30, 2007).

“Cheval et Grecs dans Troie (13b-267),” “Énéide, Livre II, Chute de Troie – Mission d’Énée,” “Biblioteca Classica Selecta,” Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) [online] [http://bcs.fltr.ucl.ac.be/Virg/V02-001-267.html#2-13-267] (page consulted April 25, 2007).

“La guerre de Troie,” “Mythes et mythologies,” Centre régional de documentation pédagogique de l’Académie de Versailles [on-line] [http://www.ac-versailles.fr/pedagogi/anti/troie/troie0.htm] (page consulted April 25, 2007).

1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.

© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.73 :"Whither Are We Drifting ?"

Cartoon on the adjournment of the session of Parliament in Ottawa in August 1873. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald was attempting to delay the investigation of the Pacific Scandal, in which his government was implicated. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1873-08-16
M994X.5.273.73
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, August 16th, 1873 : "General indignation was expressed throughout the country, when, in accordance with the advice of the implicated Premier, Parliament was prorogued, and the investigation of the scandal thus delayed. The words imputed to Sir John in the cartoon had been used by him on the floor of the House, and became a popular by-word while the discussion on the subject lasted. "1

In 1873 a major political scandal involving the government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) erupted in Canada. In August of that year a royal commission was set up to investigate it.

In one of his cartoons from that period, John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) showed John A. Macdonald riding roughshod on Miss Canada, a character often used by cartoonists to represent this country. His arm lifted to heaven, Macdonald swears his hands are clean. He is claiming, in effect, that he didn’t benefit personally from the money donated by shipping magnate Hugh Allan (1810-1882), president of Canada Pacific Railway, in exchange for t Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, August 16th, 1873 :

  • "General indignation was expressed throughout the country, when, in accordance with the advice of the implicated Premier, Parliament was prorogued, and the investigation of the scandal thus delayed. The words imputed to Sir John in the cartoon had been used by him on the floor of the House, and became a popular by-word while the discussion on the subject lasted. "1

In 1873 a major political scandal involving the government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) erupted in Canada. In August of that year a royal commission was set up to investigate it.

In one of his cartoons from that period, John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) showed John A. Macdonald riding roughshod on Miss Canada, a character often used by cartoonists to represent this country. His arm lifted to heaven, Macdonald swears his hands are clean. He is claiming, in effect, that he didn’t benefit personally from the money donated by shipping magnate Hugh Allan (1810-1882), president of Canada Pacific Railway, in exchange for the contract to build the transcontinental railway.

However, in this cartoon, Macdonald’s palm is not “clean.” Written on it are the words, “Send me another $10,000.” The words were taken from a telegram sent by Macdonald to Allan, the most explicit proof of the allegations against Macdonald: “I must have another $10,000. Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me. Answer today." The telegram was read in the House of Commons by the Opposition and published in newspapers.

What
As the document in his hand reveals, “Prorogation and suppression of the investigation,” Macdonald is trying to stall the investigation that Opposition MPs are calling for. He adjourned Parliament from August 3 to 13.

Where
The cartoon was published in Toronto in the satirical magazine Grip on August 16, 1873. This was two days after a royal commission was launched to investigate the corruption charges against the government.

When
When the Pacific Scandal broke in July 1873, John A. Macdonald claimed to have forgotten certain events. The cartoonist seems to be saying that his memory lapses were the result of his boozing, as symbolized by the bottle in Macdonald’s suit pocket.

Who
Miss Canada, under John A. Macdonald’s foot, is accompanied by a beaver, the symbol of Canada associated with the fur trade.

REFERENCES

Brown, Craig (Ed.). The Illustrated History of Canada. Rev. ed. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2002.

Hou, Charles and Cynthia. Great Canadian Political Cartoons, 1820 to 1914. Vancouver: Moody’s Lookout Press, 1997.

Johnson, J. K. “Macdonald, Sir John Alexander,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004867] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

Lacoursière, Jacques et al. Canada-Québec. Synthèse historique : de 1534 à 2000, Sillery: Septentrion, 2000.

Waite, P. B. “Pacific Scandal,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006041] (page consulted April 24, 2007).


“Canadian Confederation,” “Sir John A. Macdonald,” Library and Archives Canada [online]
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-2360-e.html] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

“Canadian Confederation,” “The Pacific Scandal,” Library and Archives Canada [online]
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-3000-e.html ] (page consulted April 24, 2007).

“First Among Equals,” “Sir John Alexander Macdonald,” Library and Archives Canada [online]
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/primeministers/h4-3025-e.html] (page consulted  April 24, 2007).

1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.74 :The Beauties of a Royal Commission "When Shall We Three Meet Again ?"

Cartoon on the royal commission set up in 1873 to shed light on the Pacific Scandal. The commission was not given any credibility, as Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, who himself was implicated in the scandal, had “friendly” commissioners appointed whose neutrality was cast into doubt. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1873-10-13
M994X.5.273.74
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, August, 23rd, 1873: "This cartoon was intended to satirize the appointment by Sir John A. Macdonald of a Royal Commission, composed of his own friends, to inquire into and report upon the charges brought by the Hon. Mr. Huntington. The sentiment of the press and public with regard to this proceeding justified the implication of the caricature, that the accused Premier was virtually "trying himself." 1

On August 14,1873, a royal commission was set up to investigate the corruption charges brought against the Conservative government by Lucius Seth Huntington (1827-1886) in April. Huntington, a businessman, was then serving as the Liberal MP for the Eastern Townships in Quebec. The “Pacific Scandal” was in full swing.

A royal commission is an official investigation into a matter of public concern. At the federal level, Cabinet is responsible for setting up and defining the mandate and powers of royal commissions and naming the commissioners. Its conclusions are presented to Cabinet and the p Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, August, 23rd, 1873:

  • "This cartoon was intended to satirize the appointment by Sir John A. Macdonald of a Royal Commission, composed of his own friends, to inquire into and report upon the charges brought by the Hon. Mr. Huntington. The sentiment of the press and public with regard to this proceeding justified the implication of the caricature, that the accused Premier was virtually "trying himself." 1

On August 14,1873, a royal commission was set up to investigate the corruption charges brought against the Conservative government by Lucius Seth Huntington (1827-1886) in April. Huntington, a businessman, was then serving as the Liberal MP for the Eastern Townships in Quebec. The “Pacific Scandal” was in full swing.

A royal commission is an official investigation into a matter of public concern. At the federal level, Cabinet is responsible for setting up and defining the mandate and powers of royal commissions and naming the commissioners. Its conclusions are presented to Cabinet and the prime minister, who must then act on them. In general, royal commissions are seen by the public as prestigious and respectable.

This was not the case, however, for the royal commission of 1873, which had a very poor reputation. The commissioners appointed by the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) were perceived as biased by newspaper editorialists and the public alike. In fact, Macdonald had insisted on the appointments of Antoine Polette (1807-1887), James Robert Gowan (1815-1909) and Charles Dewey Day (1806-1884) because he knew them and expected that they would be lenient toward his government. In the end, not only were they biased, but no legal position could be drawn from their conclusions. The commission’s lack of credibility fanned public discontent and provided ammunition to opponents of the government. In November 1873, John A. Macdonald was forced to resign.

What
By giving the judge, lawyer and accused the same traits, the cartoonist was implying that John A. Macdonald was both “judge and accused” because he had named his friends to lead the royal commission investigating the Pacific Scandal.

Where
The cartoon appeared in Grip, a satirical magazine founded by the cartoonist John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) after the Pacific Scandal broke.

When
This cartoon was published on August 23,1873, nine days after the royal commission was launched.

Who
Ironically, as this cartoon shows, the government of John A. Macdonald was still in power in August 1873 and would therefore not just receive the commission’s report and recommendations but also have to implement some of them.

REFERENCES

Brown, Desmond H. “Gowan, James Robert,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40865&query=Gowan] (page consulted 1 May).

Canada. Royal Commission Relating to Canadian Pacific Railway. Report of the Royal Commissioners appointed by commission, addressed to them, under the Great Seal of Canada, bearing date the fourteenth day of August, A.D. 1873. Ottawa, 1873.

Fox, Paul. “Royal Commissions,”The Canadian Encyclopedia [online] [http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006982] (page consulted 1 May).

Miller, Carman. “Day, Charles Dewey,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=39589&query=Charles%20AND%20Dewey%20AND%20Day] (page consulted 1 May).

Pothier, Louisette. “Antoine Polette,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=39892&query=Polette] (page consulted 1 May).

Waite, P. B. “Pacific Scandal,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006041] (page consulted 1 May).

“Canadian Confederation,” “Bengough, John Wilson,” Library and Archives Canada [online]
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-4000-e.html#c] (page consulted 1 May).

“Index to Federal Royal Commissions,”“About Royal Commissions,” Library and Archives Canada [online] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/7/6/g6-120-e.html] (page consulted 1 May).

1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.76: The Irrepressible Showman. Barnum Wants to Buy the "Pacific Scandal"

Cartoon that links the Pacific Scandal with the visit to Canada of the Barnum Circus in 1873. Newspapers published all kinds of evidence regarding the scandal, so that the whole affair began to seem like a real “media circus.” Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1873-09-13
M994X.5.273.76
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, September 13, 1873 : "Apropos of the visit to Canada of Barnum, the Showman, during the Pacific Scandal "[f]ever." 1

The Pacific Scandal broke in April 1873 when it was revealed that Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) had accepted a large sum of money from Hugh Allan (1810-1882), president of the Canada Pacific Railway, to finance his 1872 election campaign. In July, Opposition MPs leaked telegrams and letters proving the allegations to the newspaper. They devoted a lot of ink to this scandal, turning it into a veritable “media circus.”

That summer the famous circus founded by the American Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891), P.T. Barnum’s Museum, Menagerie and Circus, known as “the greatest show on earth,” was touring in Canada.

This cartoon underlines the absurdity of the whole situation. The artist imagines that Barnum, who was also much in the news, was so inspired by the scandal playing out in the “arena” of Canadian politics that he Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, September 13, 1873 :

  • "Apropos of the visit to Canada of Barnum, the Showman, during the Pacific Scandal "[f]ever." 1

The Pacific Scandal broke in April 1873 when it was revealed that Prime Minister John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) had accepted a large sum of money from Hugh Allan (1810-1882), president of the Canada Pacific Railway, to finance his 1872 election campaign. In July, Opposition MPs leaked telegrams and letters proving the allegations to the newspaper. They devoted a lot of ink to this scandal, turning it into a veritable “media circus.”

That summer the famous circus founded by the American Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891), P.T. Barnum’s Museum, Menagerie and Circus, known as “the greatest show on earth,” was touring in Canada.

This cartoon underlines the absurdity of the whole situation. The artist imagines that Barnum, who was also much in the news, was so inspired by the scandal playing out in the “arena” of Canadian politics that he wanted to buy the rights to it. The cartoonist also pokes fun at himself by depicting his own magazine, Grip, under Barnum’s big top.

What
Barnum is shown at the side of Miss Canada, a character often used by cartoonists to symbolize this young country. She is accompanied by a beaver, the emblem of Canada reminiscent of the fur trade.

Where
The cartoon was published in Toronto, in Grip. In this satirical magazine, which he had founded, John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) published cartoons mocking the Pacific Scandal.

When
The cartoon was published on September 13, 1873, less than one month before John A. Macdonald’s government resigned.

Who
A group of politicians is seen in front of Barnum. They include John A. Macdonald (with crossed arms) and members of his government such as James Beaty (1798-1892), as well as Opposition MPs such as Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892), Edward Blake (1833-1912) and E. B. Wood (1820-1882).

REFERENCES

Forster, Ben and Jonathan Swainger. “Blake, Edward,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=41335&query=Blake] (page consulted May 4, 2007 ).

Hoh, Lavahn G. “Circus: P. T. Barnum's Circus, 1871-1880,” “The circus in America.” The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia [online] [http://www.circusinamerica.org/public/corporate_bodies/public_show/13] (page consulted May 2, 2007).

Johnson, J. K. and P. B. Waite. “Macdonald, Sir John A,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40370&query=Macdonald] (page consulted April 20, 2007).

Livermore, J. Daniel. “E. B. Wood,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40031&query=Wood] (page consulted May 4, 2007).

McCalla, Douglas. “Beaty, James,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40077&query=Beaty] (page consulted May 4, 2007).

Waite, P. B. “Pacific Scandal,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006041] (page consulted May 1, 2007).

Wallace, Irving. “Barnum,” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online [online, access limited]
[http://www.banq.qc.ca/portal/dt/ressources_en_ligne/bd_revues_journaux/?bnq_resolution=mode_1024] (page consulted May 4, 2007).

1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.84 : Miss Canada's School (Dedicated to the New Premier)

Cartoon on the resignation of John A. Macdonald’s Conservative government in November 1873. The Governor General, Lord Dufferin, asked Alexander Mackenzie and the Liberal Party to form a new government. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1873-11-08
M994X.5.273.84
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, November 8th, 1873 : "Being a word of advice to the new Premier. The persons represented in the Cartoon are, commencing at the head of the "class," Hon. A. Mackenzie, Hon. Edward Blake, Hon. George Brown, Hon. E. B. Wood, Louis Riel (who had been elected M. P. for Provencher, Manitoba), Hon. M. Langevin, James Beaty, Esq., M. P., T. C. Patteson, Esq., manager of the "Mail", Sir Francis Hincks, and Sir John Macdonald. Monitor, His Excellency, Earl Dufferin, Governor-General. "1

In 1873 the Pacific Scandal shook Canadian politics. John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), leader of the Conservative Party, had pocketed money from Hugh Allan (1810-1882) to finance his election campaign in exchange for the contract to build the transcontinental railway that would link British Columbia with Eastern Canada.

The scandal broke in April and proof of the allegations was published in newspapers in July. In August, a royal commission was set up by John A. Macdonald himself, but to its critics it completely la Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, November 8th, 1873 :

  • "Being a word of advice to the new Premier. The persons represented in the Cartoon are, commencing at the head of the "class," Hon. A. Mackenzie, Hon. Edward Blake, Hon. George Brown, Hon. E. B. Wood, Louis Riel (who had been elected M. P. for Provencher, Manitoba), Hon. M. Langevin, James Beaty, Esq., M. P., T. C. Patteson, Esq., manager of the "Mail", Sir Francis Hincks, and Sir John Macdonald. Monitor, His Excellency, Earl Dufferin, Governor-General. "1

In 1873 the Pacific Scandal shook Canadian politics. John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), leader of the Conservative Party, had pocketed money from Hugh Allan (1810-1882) to finance his election campaign in exchange for the contract to build the transcontinental railway that would link British Columbia with Eastern Canada.

The scandal broke in April and proof of the allegations was published in newspapers in July. In August, a royal commission was set up by John A. Macdonald himself, but to its critics it completely lack credibility. In November Macdonald’s government was forced to step down. Lord Dufferin (1826-1902), the governor general, then asked Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892) to form a new government. This cartoon illustrates this event.

With Miss Canada (representing the young country) standing behind him, Lord Dufferin plays the role of a teacher leading a class of “students,” most of whom are federal MPs. He warns Alexander Mackenzie that if he makes any mistakes he will meet the same fate as John A. Macdonald – he too will have to wear the dunce cap.

What
The details in this cartoon refer to recent events. On the teacher’s desk are pages bearing the words “Pacific Scandal” and “Resignation.” On the wall we can read, “Moral Maxims. Honesty is the best policy. Never tell a lie. Tell the truth.”

Where
The cartoon was published in Toronto in Grip, a satirical weekly founded by the cartoonist John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923).

When
This cartoon was published in November 1873 when Mackenzie was forming a new government and before he called the election of February 1874.

Who
Among the men facing Lord Dufferin and Miss Canada are members of the new Liberal government such as Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, Edward Blake (1833-1912), George Brown (1818-1880) and E. B. Wood (1820-1882). The Conservatives John A. Macdonald, Hector Louis Langevin (1826-1906), James Beaty (1798-1892) and Francis Hincks (1807-1885) are also shown.

REFERENCES

Careless, J.M.S. “Brown, George,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=38983&query=Brown] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Désilets, Andrée. “Langevin, Hector-Louis,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40962&query=Langevin] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Forster, Ben. “Blackwood (Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood), Frederick Temple,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40683&query=Blackwood] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Forster, Ben. “Mackenzie, Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40374&query=Mackenzie] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Forster, Ben et Jonathan Swainger. “Blake, Edward,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online]
[http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=41335&query=Blake] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Livermore, Daniel J. “Wood, E. B.,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=40031&query=Wood] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Ormsby, William G. “Hincks, Sir Francis,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography [online] [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=39705&query=Hincks] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Stanley, George F. G. “Riel, Louis,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line] [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006837] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

Waite, P. B. “Pacific Scandal,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [on-line]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006041] (page consulted May 11, 2007).

1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.

© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The activity on the learning object Here a scandal, there a scandal: More fodder for cartoonists ties into the Québec Education Program History and Citizenship Education in Secondary 4 (2nd year of secondary cycle two).

It is designed to help students interpret the social phenomena of power and powers, particularly as it relates to the interaction between the state, financial community and media during the Pacific Scandal (of the 1870s) and the sponsorship scandal (of recent years). It also aims to help students formulate a point of view on the role played by the media and public opinion in the administration of public affairs.

The activity is primarily based on vintage cartoons dating from the 1870s and contemporary cartoons published since 2000.

The educational aim is “to enable students to exercise critical, ethical and aesthetic judgment with respect to the media,” and in particular to enhance their “awareness of the place and influence of the different media in his/her daily life and in society,” as well as their “understanding of media representations of reality.”

The targeted educational outcomes are:

  • Competency 2: Interprets social phenomena using the historical method.
  • Methodology: Interpretation of an iconographic document.
  • Social phenomena: Power and powers.
  • Concepts: Influence, interest, state.
  • Historical knowledge : The financial community and the state, media and the state, the nationalist movements and the state.
  • Cross-curricula competency 1: Uses information.
  • Cross-curricula competency 4 : Uses creativity.
  • Cross-curricula competency 6: Uses information and communication technologies.

From:
Québec, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport [MÉLS]. History and Citizenship Education, Quebec Education Program, Secondary Cycle Two, Validation Document, 2005.


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