“Good Housekeeping”: Agnes Macdonald Writes About Home and Parliament in Nineteenth-Century Canada

Robin Sutherland

Abstract


The writings of Agnes Macdonald, the wife of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, represent an important but largely unrecognized contribution to the "narratives of nation" written by women. In her diary entries, which document both her own visits to the House of Commons and the incursions of politics into the Macdonald household, Agnes merges home and parliament, recalibrating the political playing field to one in which the domestic — the feminine — has a definite place. Her published sketches convey intimate details in an active and authoritative narrative voice, evincing her dynamic role in the political life of her husband, and, perhaps more importantly, in its remembrance.

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