National Newswatch
National Opinion Centre

It was on this date in 1882 that a young man from Prince Edward Island would begin his journey through history with Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Joseph Pope, who was destined to become one of the greatest Prime Ministerial assistants in our history, started his work as the Father of Confederation’s private secretary. The pair formed an extremely close relationship over the next nine years and Pope became a key player to Sir John A.’s final terms as Prime Minister.

After Macdonald’s death in 1891, Pope continued his service to his fallen boss, penning The Memoirs of Sir John A. Macdonald, still an important source book for anyone studying the early years of Confederation.

Later, Sir Wilfrid Laurier also turned to Pope and the latter served the Laurier and later Borden and Meighen administrations with the same professionalism, loyalty and skill he had first demonstrated while in Sir John A.’s service.

You read more about this remarkable Canadian’s life and career at his Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry.

Sir Joseph Pope

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on National Newswatch are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
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