Sir John was born in Glasgow's Ramshorn parish in 1815 and moved to Ontario with his family aged five. He became a lawyer, was elected to the provincial legislature in 1844, and became leader of the Conservative Party.
In Canada, plans are in hand to mark the bicentenary of his birth, in 2015.
Today, Labor Day in Canada, the Sir John A Macdonald Bicentennial Commission is staging two theatrical walking tours through downtown Kingston, Ontario, complete with songs and vignettes about Macdonald inspired by a rock musical about him, titled Sir John, Eh?
Arthur Milnes, Commissioner at the Sir John A Macdonald Bicentennial, said: "Had the skill and vision to put aside past prejudices and bring French and English and east and west together. He was a masterful political leader."
A plaque at Ramshorn Church says he played a leading role in forming a federal union of Britain's American colonies, which resulted in the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867.
He held the office of Prime Minister between 1867 and 1873, and 1878-1891, as the country expanded with the addition of large territories, built a trans-continental railway, and settled much of the west.