Mackenzie arrived in UPPER CANADA in 1820 and, after a few years in business at Dundas, moved to QUEENSTON. In May 1824 he published the first issue of the Colonial Advocate, which immediately became a leading voice of the new Reform movement. To be closer to the provincial Parliament, Mackenzie moved his operation to York [Toronto] in the fall of 1824. His forthright and forceful manner together with his ardent denunciation of the FAMILY COMPACT contributed much to his popularity, and in 1828 he was easily elected to the House of Assembly for York County.
Rebellions of 1837
On December 6, convinced that he would gain spontaneous support, he led an erratic expedition down Yonge Street towards Toronto, seemingly more intent on damaging the property of Tory supporters than taking control of the government. As the force neared Toronto it was dispersed by a few shots from loyalist guards. On December 7 loyalists marched north to Montgomery's Tavern and easily defeated the rebels. Mackenzie fled to the US and tried to muster a new scheme from NAVY ISLAND in the Niagara River. Canadian militia bombarded the island and sank the rebel supply ship Caroline.
Mackenzie moved to New York where he founded Mackenzie's Gazette. However, he was convicted of violation of the US neutrality laws and imprisoned for a year, falling ill and deeper in debt. He spent the next 10 years in the US, eventually finding employment as a correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune. During exile he wrote several books, including The Sons of the Emerald Isle (1844), The Lives and Opinions of Benjamin Franklin Butler and Jesse Hoyt (1845) and The Life and Times of Martin Van Buren (1846).
Mackenzie returned to Canada in 1849 following a government pardon. Undaunted, he quickly resumed both his journalistic and his political careers, serving with characteristic energy as MLA for Haldimand until retirement in 1857 and occasionally publishing a political squib usually entitled Mackenzie's Weekly Message. The fiery and principled Scot died at his home on Bond Street, now one of Toronto's historic sites and museums.
Author VICTOR L. RUSSELL
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
William Lyon Mackenzie
A brief biography of William Lyon Mackenzie with photographs and related archival material. From the “Canadian Confederation” website, Library and Archives Canada.
Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum
This fine museum, located in the former home of William Lyon Mackenzie, features a collection of working heritage presses and exhibits about the history of printing.
House of Commons Heritage Collection
The House of Commons Heritage Collection features objects ranging from sculpture and furniture to official portraits, historical paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, murals, and frescoes.
William Lyon Mackenzie
A biography of William Lyon Mackenzie, merchant, journalist, politician, and rebel. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.