The Star’s Matthew Hart reports from Glasgow on efforts to save, or at least commemorate, John A. Macdonald’s birthplace.
Part of the problem with remembering Macdonald in Glasgow is deciding where to do it. It is not certain that he was born in Brunswick Lane. Records show his father worked there, at two addresses, and families often lived in rooms attached to the breadwinner’s business.
In a black-and-white documentary shot in a crowded pub in Brunswick Lane 40 years ago, Saskatchewan’s Hugh Gainsford, who claims to be Macdonald’s only living descendant, says his great-grandfather was born on the top floor. A commemorative tablet put up by the Ontario government on a church wall two blocks away asserts that Macdonald was born in the local parish.
But some believe Macdonald was born on the other side of the River Clyde, where the birth was registered. An early Macdonald biography also puts the birthplace there, “in a row of stone tenement houses near the ferry landing,” an area razed long ago. Wherever he was born, the only address in Glasgow incontestably connected to him is the shabby street now waiting for the wrecker.