Mackenzie, William Lyon

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Mackenzie, William Lyon

Mackenzie, William Lyon, 1795–1861, Canadian journalist and insurgent leader, b. Scotland; grandfather of William Lyon Mackenzie King. Emigrating to Upper Canada in 1820, he published (1824–34), first at Queenston, then at York (later Toronto), his noted Colonial Advocate. In it he vigorously attacked the governing clique called the Family Compact, and in 1826 his printing office was partly demolished. Elected (1828) to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, Mackenzie was five times expelled for “libel” and five times reelected by his constituency. As a leader of the Reform party of Upper Canada he went to London in 1832 to obtain redress of grievances. In 1834 he became the first mayor of Toronto. In 1836 he founded the Constitution as a Reform party organ. Enraged by the policies of Sir Francis Bond Head and by the defeat of the Reform party, Mackenzie and a group of insurgents attempted (1837) to seize Toronto, but the rebellion was quickly put down. Mackenzie and others escaped to the United States. He set up a provisional government with fortified headquarters on Navy Island in the Niagara River, but he was later imprisoned for 18 months by the U.S. authorities for violating the neutrality laws (see Caroline Affair). After his release Mackenzie worked as a journalist and writer until the proclamation of general amnesty allowed his return (1849) to Canada. There he was a member (1851–58) of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada (Upper and Lower Canada).


See S. Leacock, Mackenzie, Baldwin, LaFontaine, Hincks (1926 ed.); E. C. Guillet, The Lives and Times of the Patriots (1938).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mackenzie, William Lyon


Born Feb. 13 (according to other data Mar. 12), 1795, in Dundee, Scotland; died Aug. 28, 1861, in Toronto. Canadian political leader and publicist. Leader of the liberation movement in Upper Canada during the period of British colonial domination. Born into a poor Scotch family.

Mackenzie emigrated to Canada in 1820. In 1824 he began to publish the newspaper Colonial Advocate, in which he sharply criticized the colonial regime and defended the interests of the Canadian bourgeoisie and the farmers, the two groups that were in the process of formation as distinct social classes. Soon Mackenzie came to be recognized as the leader of the democratic opposition (“reformists”) in Upper Canada, which opposed the policy of the British colonial authorities in the province and favored the promulgation of bourgeois-democratic reforms (including the introduction of a responsible government, civil liberties, independent courts, and abolition of the privileges of the Anglican Church).

From 1828 to 1836, Mackenzie was a member of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, and in 1834 he was elected mayor of Toronto. Mackenzie was the organizer and one of the leaders of a Canadian federation (founded in 1834) that united the reformists of Upper Canada. He was one of the first to advocate an alliance with the reformers in Lower Canada. In December 1837, Mackenzie led an anti-British uprising in Upper Canada. Poorly prepared, the uprising was put down by British troops. In January 1838, Mackenzie emigrated to the USA. He returned to Canada in 1850, and from 1851 to 1858 he sat in the Canadian Parliament.


The Selected Writings: 1824-1837. Toronto, 1960.


Tishkov, V. A. “Politicheskie vzgliady i deiatel’nost’ U. L. Makenzi.” In the collection Iz istorii mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii i osvoboditel’nykh dvizhenii XIX-XX vekov. Moscow, 1970.
Kilbourn, W. The Firebrand. Toronto, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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