Agnes was Hugh John's second wife. Their fathers worked with each other in Ontario./ DMVC Archives

Agnes was Hugh John's second wife. Their fathers worked with each other in Ontario./ DMVC Archives

Known for her extravagant events and floral decorations around Dalnavert, Lady Macdonald was the daughter of a S.J.Vankoughnet who worked with Sir John A. Macdonald.

Agnes married Hugh John on April 26, 1883 in Toronto and nearly a year later they had their son Jack. 

In Winnipeg, Lady Macdonald (nicknamed Gertie) both organized and attended many events.

One event she attended was a luncheon in honour of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall’s visit in 1901, where she sat at the head table.  She was also one of 105 people who attended a luncheon at the Government House of Manitoba for King George and Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1939, according to DMVC’s archives.

Not only was she a busy socialite, but she had a great impact on Hugh John’s political life.

According to letters Hugh John wrote to Prime Minister Charles Tupper, Agnes nudged him to advance his political career and even convinced him to get knighted.

One of the most successful events  Agnes hosted was at The Manitoba Hotel a few months before it burnt down./ DMVC Archives

One of the most successful events  Agnes hosted was at The Manitoba Hotel a few months before it burnt down./ DMVC Archives

“My only reason for being anxious about the matter [getting knighted] is that I desire my wife’s ambition,” Macdonald wrote Tupper. “Her health is quite poor and getting knighted may restore it.”

HER several health issues

While living at Dalnavert, Agnes had two strokes, so the family hired an in-house nurse named Hattie for her.

“Hattie took care of my grandparents and family for years,” said Hugh Gainsford, Agnes' grandson. “She lived at Dalnavert for many years.”

Lady Macdonald passed away in the summer of 1940. Her funeral was at All Saint’s Anglican Church. She’s buried alongside her husband and son at St. John’s Cemetery.

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