John Sandfield Macdonald honoured as Ontario Heritage Trust launches Premiers' Gravesites Program

ST. ANDREWS WEST - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust launched the Premiers' Gravesites Program in Eastern Ontario with a ceremony honouring The Honourable John Sandfield Macdonald, Ontario's first premier.

In 2007, the Ontario Minister of Culture announced funding for the Premiers' Gravesites Program. Because of its experience with the Provincial Plaque Program, the Ontario Heritage Trust was chosen to administer this exciting new program as an extension of its commemorative role. This initiative was inspired by a private member's bill - an Act to Preserve the Gravesites of Former Premiers of Ontario - introduced to the legislature in 2005 by Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim Brownell.

"We are honoured to launch the Premiers' Gravesites Program today in St. Andrews West," said The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust. "Through these distinctive bronze markers, we commemorate the service and achievements of our former premiers to the province of Ontario."

The Premiers' Gravesites Program honours Ontario's former premiers and their service to Ontario by marking their gravesites. Bronze markers have been specially designed and each one will be inscribed with the individual premier's name and dates of service. The Trust will mark and commemorate these gravesites in chronological order based on each premier's term of service. The Honourable John Sandfield Macdonald is the first premier to be honoured through this program. A lawyer from the Cornwall area, Macdonald was the first premier of the province of Ontario. In 1841, he was elected to the first Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. He went on to serve important roles in all eight assemblies before Confederation. An ally of first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, John Sandfield Macdonald was appointed premier of Ontario at Confederation. He held the position until 1871, and died soon after at Cornwall.

"The McGuinty government takes great pride in supporting the Premiers' Gravesites Program," said Minister of Culture Aileen Carroll. "The commemorative bronze markers honour the service and achievements of our past leaders and remind future generations of our premiers' efforts to build a stronger Ontario."

"These are individuals whose vision has shaped our province into the great place it is today," said Brownell. "This initiative not only pays tribute to the former premiers themselves, but provides a source of pride for the communities in which they are buried, and creates attractions for visitors."

The Ontario Heritage Trust - the province's lead heritage agency - is dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's rich and varied heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.

Quick facts

  • Eighteen premiers will be commemorated through this marker program.
  • The intent of the program is to commemorate each premier's gravesite with a bronze marker and a flagpole flying the Ontario flag. The installation of flagpoles will be decided on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the rules of the individual cemeteries and in consultation with the descendants.
  • Provincial plaques have already been unveiled to honour 14 of the 18 premiers. These plaques are located at sites related to the premier's original riding and/or place of birth.
  • For more information about Ontario's premiers, visit or



Gordon Pim
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Ontario Heritage Trust
Telephone: 416-325-1484