Sir John A. Macdonald’s Math Notebook


Stored away in Library and Archives Canada is a mathematics notebook from 1827 written by Sir John A. Macdonald while he attended the Midland District Grammar School on Rideau Street in Kingston. A brief description of the contents of the notebook is given by Donald Creighton in his biography of Macdonald:

“And by 1827, when he was just twelve years old, he had worked his way through numbers and their properties, decimals, ratios and geometrical proportions, and was deep in square and cube roots.”

These bare bones do not tell the whole story. There is much more information locked away in this little treasure.


Introduction to the Notebook

John A’s School Days

Contents of the notebook

     Properties of Numbers

     Problems Related to the Properties of Numbers



     Addition of Fractions

     Subtraction of One Fraction from Another

     Multiplication of Fractions

     Division with Fractions






     Ratios and Proportions

     Arithmetical Proportion

     Geometrical Proportion

     Arithmetical Progression

     Geometrical Progression



     Square Root

     Application and Use of the Square Root

     Cube Root

     Application and Use of the Cube Root