William Lyon Mackenzie

William Lyon Mackenzie was born at Dundee, Scotland, in 1795. He emigrated to York (Toronto) in 1820 and later relocated to Queenston where his distaste for the worst abuses of the Family Compact led him to abandon various lucrative mercantile pursuits in favour of the riskier business of publishing, and politics.

On Tuesday, 18 May 1824, the first issue of The Colonial Advocate and Journal of Agriculture, Manufacture and Commerce was published. The newspaper included agricultural advice, poems, anecdotes, classified advertising, current events and, most important, Mackenzie's own provocative rhetoric, which did not sit well with the politicians of the day. At the time of the Advocate's first appearance, work had just begun at Queenston on a monument to the victorious General Isaac Brock. During a ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone, a bottle containing a copy of the Colonial Advocate was placed in the foundation stone. Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, subsequently ordered construction on the monument stopped, and a large quantity of the newly erected masonry uplifted, in order to remove what he called a `colonial rag'.

On 18 November 1824, Mackenzie moved back to York, where his newspaper courted a potentially larger circulation. It also attracted the unwelcome notice of fifteen mostly young men from the privileged class who raided the printing office disguised (poorly) as natives, damaged the printing press, and threw several cases of monotype into Lake Ontario in 1826.

In 1828 Mackenzie was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, from which he was expelled on five occasions for libel, each time being re-elected. In 1837 he led the ill-considered and spectacularly ineffectual Upper Canada Rebellion against Sir Francis Bond Head and the Family Compact. His `rebellion' was quickly snuffed out.

The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

William Lyon Mackenzie Magnify

William Lyon Mackenzie