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Mackenzie Bowell Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Mackenzie Bowell passes away in 1917.

Mackenzie Bowell was an English-born Canadian politician.

Bowell was born in Rickinghall, England on December 27th, 1823. In 1832, his family emigrated to Belleville, Upper Canada. Eventually he apprenticed for with the local printer and the town newspaper. Bowell became a successful printer and eventually bought the town paper The Belleville Intelligencer.

In 1867, Bowell was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons. In 1874, he was able to hold on to seat during the Pacific Scandal. The Pacific Scandal occurred when 150 members of the Conservative Government were accused of accepting bribes in regard to a national rail contract. Despite the fact that many Conservatives lost their seats, Bowell continued on until 1878 when the Conservatives came back into power. He joined the cabinet in 1878 as Minister of Customs. In 1892, he served as Minister of Militia and Defense, he also served as Minister of Trade and Commerce.

It was also in 1892 that Bowell became a Senator in the Senate of Canada. It was in that role that he traveled to Australia and was able to arrange the first conference of British Colonies which was held in Ottawa. The following year, in 1893 he became Leader of the Government in the Senate. The position was appointed by the Prime Minister. It was Bowell's job to to be the spokesman for any bill that was put forth from the Government.

In 1894, when the Prime Minster passed away, Bowell was appointed by the Governor General of Canada to be the new Prime Minister. Unfortunately he walked into a firestorm that had been going on for the previous four years. In 1890, Manitoba abolished funding for denominational schools, both Catholic and Protestant. Known as the Manitoba Schools Question, this for many conflicted with the Manitoba Act of 1870, which established Manitoba as a province and dealt with various language issues in the province. Bowell's government became paralyzed over the issue. Each new piece of legislation that was put forward by Bowell was rejected by a part of Bowell's cabinet. Because of this Bowell was seen as indecisive and 7 of his Ministers resigned in an attempt to force Bowell to step down. Bowell fought their actions referring to them as "a nest of traitors." Eventually he was forced to resign, although he was still a Senator.

Bowell remained in the Senate until the time of his passing. He was his party's leader in the Senate until 1906. Bowell passed away on December 10th, 1917. Bowell was a Grand Master of the Orange Order and his funeral was well attended by them. No elected member of the Government prior to his passing or at the time of his passing attended his funeral.

Bowell was a member of St. Lawrence Lodge No. 640 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was affiliated with Belleville Lodge No. 123 in Belleville, Ontario, Canada.