Sir Mackenzie Bowell (December 27, 1823-December 10, 1917) was the fifth Prime Minister of Canada from December 21, 1894 to April 27, 1896.
Bowell was born in Rickinghall, England. His family emigrated from there to Belleville, Ontario, where he apprenticed on the local newspaper. He became a successful printer and publisher and a prominent figure in the Orange Order, which made him Canadian grandmaster in 1870. In 1847 he married Harriet Moore (1829-1884) and with her had four sons and five daughters.
Elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1867, Bowell joined the Conservative cabinet in 1878 as Minister of Customs. A competent, hardworking administrator, Bowell remained in cabinet as Minister of Trade and Customs and Minister of Militia and Defence when he became a senator in 1892. He became Leader of the Government in the Senate on October 31, 1893 and then, in 1894, as the most senior minister, Bowell succeeded to the prime ministership when Sir John Thompson died suddenly. As Prime Minister of Canada, Bowell faced dissent in his party over the controversial Manitoba Schools Question. In 1890 Manitoba had abolished its Catholic school boards, contrary to the provisions made for Catholics in the Manitoba Act of 1870. Bowell and his predecessors had struggled to find a solution to the problem. When he decided to create a new Catholic school board for the province in 1896, seven cabinet ministers deserted him, and Bowell denounced them as "a nest of traitors." They soon returned, but with elections looming, Bowell agreed to retire. Charles Tupper, Canadian High Commissioner to London, was recalled to replace him.
Sir Mackenzie Bowell was 93 years old and still a senator when he died in Belleville. He is buried in the Belleville Cemetery, Belleville, Ontario.