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Description found in Archives

Agnes Macdonald, Baroness of Earnscliffe fonds [graphic material]. 

Date(s)

[1880-1886]

Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

24 watercolours.

Scope and content

Fonds comprises twenty-four watercolours by Agnes Macdonald, Baroness of Earnscliffe (1836-1920), the second wife of Sir John A. Macdonald. The works depict, primarily, rustic scenes in and around the Macdonald's vacation home at Rivière du Loup where Susan Agnes would often spend the summer months with their ailing daughter Mary Theodora Macdonald. Letters from Sir John A. Macdonald to his sister Louisa frequently mention the salutary effect of their visits to Rivière du Loup. Several of the watercolours depict views of the river from their boathouse as well as beach scenes and generic forest vales. A single work features a young woman seated before a blazing fireplace. Also included are a few Ottawa views, notably 'Lovers' Walk', below the Parliament buildings.

Graphic (art)
90: Open
Physical access is to be given through a
n art archivist.
Graphic (art)
90: Open
Item no. assigned by LAC
from 1 to 20
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Terms of use

No restrictions on access or on use for reproduction or publication.

Watercolours have been item-level catalogued in the Minisis-ICON database. (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

Susan Agnes Macdonald, Baroness of Earnscliffe (1836-1920), the second wife of Sir John A. Macdonald, was born in Jamaica to Thomas James Bernard and and Theodora Foulkes Hewitt. Political upheavals and family tragedy caused the removal, in 1854, of Susan Agnes and her mother to Ontario where they joined Agnes' brother Hewitt Bernard. Hewitt, a practising lawyer, was soon serving as Secretary to Macdonald. Tiring of the frequent moves between Quebec City and Toronto prior to the establishment of Ottawa as the capital, the two women re-settled in England. While Macdonald was in London working out the final details and passage of the British North American Act, Susan Agnes and Macdonald were re-acquainted. Their wedding took place shortly afterwards, in London in February 1867. By July of that year, they had returned to Ottawa as Macdonald was sworn in as the Dominion's first Prime Minister.

As a political wife, Susan Agnes was ceaselessly supportive of her husband through his political triumphs and defeats. She was occasionally known for published commentaries on Canadian life and politics. Sadly, their only child Mary (1869-1933), to whom both were devoted, suffered from the effects of hydrocephalus. In recognition of Sir John A. Macdonald's service and loyalty, Queen Victoria awarded Agnes a peerage; she became Baroness of Earnscliffe, a title based on the name of their Ottawa residence. For the next thirty years, admittedly rootless and bereft following her husband's death, she chose to travel through Europe, settling frequently in England where she died in Eastbourne in 1920.

Additional information

Custodial history
The watercolours were received from Theodora Pepler, a direct descendant of Agnes Macdonald, Baroness of Earnscliffe.

Source of title
Title is based on name of creator.

Related materials
Other records relating to Agnes Macdonald may be found in MG26-A and include her diary, general correspondence and financial documents which detail her marriage settlement and estate. Also of note are several photographic works which were also included in the family papers.

Arrangement note
Art items have been arranged chronologically.

Subject heading

Private

Related control no.

1999-01420-0