TORONTO — January 11, 2014 — Historica Canada is launching two new Heritage Minutes today, in honour of Sir John A. Macdonald’s 199th birthday. One Minute focuses on Canada’s first Prime Minister and the other on fellow Father of Confederation, Sir George-Étienne Cartier. The release kicks off a series of milestones leading up to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
“In their years working closely together, Macdonald and Cartier forged an extraordinary friendship, without which Canada might not exist,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President of Historica Canada. “They were colourful, charismatic and remarkable men, and their shared vision of our country continues in many ways to be relevant today.”
The new Minutes are the first in the 75-spot collection to tell the story of Confederation. In the Macdonald Minute, viewers join Macdonald, Cartier and George Brown – the leaders of the Great Coalition – and others en route to the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, the launching pad for Confederation three years later. The Cartier Minute spans decades and provinces, telling the story of how his efforts were crucial in bringing Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia into Confederation before his death in 1873. A statue in his honour was unveiled by Sir John A. Macdonald in 1885 — the first ever placed on Parliament Hill.
“Macdonald wasn’t just the founder of a nation that otherwise, almost certainly, would not have survived. He shaped a nation that has gone on to thrive…” – Richard Gwyn, the author of an award-winning, two-volume biography of Sir John A. Macdonald and consultant on the new Heritage Minutes.
“The fight for Confederation was from the beginning a French Canadian project, and Cartier became its major leader.” – Alastair Sweeny, the author of George-Étienne Cartier: A Biography and consultant on the new Heritage Minutes.
A 2008 poll found that 42% of Canadians could not name the country’s first Prime Minister. Historica Canada will conduct a similar poll before Macdonald’s bicentennial birthday in 2015 to see if these Minutes and other efforts across the country have succeeded in boosting awareness of how our country was founded.
Historica Canada re-launched Heritage Minutes in 2012 after a hiatus of nearly eight years. These Minutes are made possible through funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage. After an extensive public tender process, Historica Canada selected Toronto-based Collider Films to produce the Minutes.
Historica Canada is the largest independent organization dedicated to history and citizenship in Canada. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada.
Image 1: Steve Cumyn as Sir John A. Macdonald in a new Heritage Minute about his role in Confederation. Image 2: Jean L’Italien as Sir George-Étienne Cartier in a brand new Heritage Minute about his role in Confederation.
Our new Heritage Minutes on Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier are available for viewing at www.gotaminute.ca