William Lyon Makcenzie

William Lyon Mackenzie

William Lyon Mackenzie?s life can best be understood if man and legend are separated. William was born on March 12, 1795 in Scotland. Three weeks after his birth, his father, Daniel, supposedly died, but no record of his death has ever been found. William and his mother were said to gone through great hardship, having to move off of Daniel?s land.

After moving to Dundee, William, who went by the names Willie or Lyon, entered the Dundee Parish School at the age of five, with the help of a bursary. At fifteen, he was the youngest member of the
commercial newsroom of the local newspaper. He also belonged to a scientific society, where he met Edward Lesslie, and his son, James. These two would be William?s patrons throughout most of his life.

In 1820, William sailed to Canada with John, another son of Edward Lesslie. Mackenzie was immediately impressed with Upper Canada. Before the end of the year, Mackenzie was writing for the York Observer under the name of "Mercator"

In 1824, Mackenzie started his most famous newspaper, the Colonial Advocate. The first edition appeared on May 18, 1824. The sole purpose of this paper was to sway the opinions of the voters in the next election.

On June 8, 1826, a group of fifteen, young, well connected Tories disguised themselves as Indians, and broke into Mackenzie?s York office in broad daylight. They smashed his printing press, then threw it into the bay. The Tories did nothing to compensate him, so it was clear that they were involved. Mackenzie ntook them to court, and seeing that their "disguise" had been seen through, they offered Mackenzie ?200. He refused, and after a bitter trial, the court awarded him ?625.

In March of 1829, Mackenzie went to the United States to buy books for resale, and to study the actions of the newly appointed Andrew Jackson. He compared the simplicity and the cost of American government to Canada?s, and saw that their spoils system might be a way of doing away with some Family Compact members.

When an assembly met in January of 1831, Mackenzie fully immersed himself into its proceedings. He demanded inquiries into abuse, and insisted on a review of representation in the province. He appointed
people on the council to fight for what he, himself wanted, while what he personally did angered and annoyed the Tory members of parliament.

On December 12, 1831, Mackenzie was voted out of parliament on a vote of 24 to 15. Upon his expulsion, the Colonial Advocate became more strident, and a mob of several hundred stormed the assembly. They demanded that Sir John Calborne dissolve parliament. He refused, but the Tories were soon to find that kicking Mackenzie out was one thing; keeping him out was another.

 
At the by-election on January 2, 1832, Mackenzie was voted back in on a vote of 119 to 1. He was presented with a gold medal valued at over $250, and to the accompaniment of bagpipes, a victorious procession of 134 sleighs made its way down Yonge St. A grand re-entrance back into parliament for one such as Mackenzie.

On January7, after only five days at work, Mackenzie was again expelled, and soon after re-elected. The province was in turmoil. Mackenzie was organizing petitions in dozens of cities. Once again, the Tories were striving to kick him out.

For the next 10 months, Mackenzie went around to various cities, doing presentations to the townsfolk, and in November of 1832, a dispatch was sent to sedate the assembly?s vendetta against Mackenzie. But the
Tories had expelled him a third time, earlier that month, only to see him re-elected, again.

A new theatre of operations for Mackenzie appeared with the incorporation of York as Toronto on March 6, 1834. Both Tories and Reformers presented slates of candidates in its first election on March 27. Mackenzie was appointed alderman, and the Reformers obtained a majority on the council. Mackenzie was chosen to be Toronto?s first mayor by his fellow councillors. A typically politician of the era, he got rid of Tory officials, gave patronage to his supporters, and was readier to hear contested elections against
Tories than Reformers. He demanded that his dignity be recognized was a mark if his fierce pride.

In the provincial election of October, 1834, months before his term as mayor was completed, Mackenzie won Second Riding of York, and the Reformers a majority in the assembly. In