Born in London in 1853, George Edward Wade began his professional career in the 1890s, when he began to have his works exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His production consisted mainly of bust portraits, executed for commissions emanating from the British colonies. His services were retained by the city of Hamilton, Ontario, to create a statue of Macdonald in 1893. Although the statue was imposing in stature, no supplementary structure framed it. Wade died in London in 1933.
In 1895, the site chosen for installation of the monument to Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the south part of Dominion Square, positioning it as the focal point of a long perspective view. In 1967, this part of the square was renamed Place du Canada, which was a perfect fit with the presence of the monument, Macdonald having been one of the Fathers of Confederation and Canada’s first prime minister.
Sheltered under an immense canopy, the statue of Macdonald, twice life size, is planted firmly. He is portrayed in his official function as State dignitary of the Parliament of Canada, dressed in the costume of a Privy Imperial Councillor. Following the sculptural convention of the time, he holds a document in his hand, as did all prominent politicians in their statues. The canopy sits on an elevated pedestal, and its coffered vault is supported by 12 columns with Corinthian capitals, arranged in threes at each corner. On top of the vault, a fluted column, tapered at the top, supports an allegorical figure, draped in Greek style and arranged as a crown, like a cathedral spire. The figure symbolizes Canada, and the seven boys with linked arms that hold each of the shields at the foot of the column represent the seven provinces. The grouping composed of the column, “Canada,” and the “seven provinces” sits on four elongated lions at each corner of the monument.
With its allegorical figures and decorative elements, the monument underlines the major events of Macdonald’s government, which contributed to the expansion of Canada. Among the monuments erected to the memory of Macdonald, the one in Montréal is the most imposing and elaborate.