John Abbott: A College


But Wasn’t He a Man as Well???

Marjolaine Pilon
Campus Life Editor

John Abbott is the college in which you are probably reading this article right now, perhaps in the Oval while listening to the un-tuned piano or in the (way too) small cafeteria where your hamburger and fries surely cost half your paycheck this week. John Abbott is the college where you study, read, cry over homework or even sleep in the library sometimes (tip: I personally have a blanket and a pillow in my car, in case I need a nap). John Abbott is the college in which tons of activities, services and opportunities are given to you, lucky but exhausted students. Even though the roads in Sainte-Anne can sometimes be a pain in the morning and it is legitimately impossible to find a parking spot after 10a.m. even with your $200 parking decal, John Abbott stays the place where your future begins and where you will create your best memories.

Have you ever wondered if John Abbott was only a college, though? Of course not! This building was named after the 3rd Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott (1821-1893). He was the first Prime Minister of Canada to actually be born in Canada. Indeed, John A. Macdonald was born in the United-Kingdom and Alexander Mackenzie was Scottish. Doctor Abbott became a lawyer and a professor after studying at McGill University in the early 1950s, getting his Bachelor’s and his Doctorate from the renowned institution. Before getting actively involved in Quebec’s politics as the mayor of Montreal (1887-1888), he kept his job as the Dean of the Mcgill Law Faculty from 1855-1880. Not only focused on politics (he was, in fact, telling people he loathed and hated!), he founded, in 1860, along with other respectable men – the Art Association of Montreal, which still exists nowadays. Chosen for the House of Commons in 1867 as the representative of Argenteuil, and much appreciated by his coworkers such as John A. Macdonald and John Thompson (4th Prime Minister of Canada), he was called to the Senate in 1887 and became the Senate house leader, named by Macdonald himself. John Abbott strongly thought that the Senate was important in a structured government. He was also part of Macdonald’s cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio (minister with no specific responsibilities or no particular ministry to lead). When Prime Minister Macdonald died, Sir John Abbott succeeded him, unwillingly. According to him, John Thompson would have been the best leader to deal with federal crisis such as economic recessions, scandals and frauds (see Wikipedia for more information). He did not want to be the Canadian Prime Minister but still decided to lead as the head of a caretaker government, meaning he would only rule the country temporarily.

Even though Sir John Abbott was highly engaged in Canada’s politics, it is clear to the majority of Canadians that he was not one of the best Prime Ministers we had though the centuries. However, his involvement in our country cannot make us forget what he tried to attempt as the 3rd Prime Minister of Canada. It is a great honor to have our school named after him to remember that the ones that govern us do not have it quite simple, most of the time.

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