In 1866, the Fathers of Confederation—among them John A. Macdonald, George-Étienne Cartier, Alexander Galt and George Brown—were in London, staying at the Westminster Palace Hotel.
They were fine-tuning the British North America Act which, when passed, would create the Dominion of Canada. At a different hotel was Joseph Howe, who was trying to get Nova Scotia out of Confederation, waving a petition with 30,000 signatures.
“Macdonald was the ruling genius and spokesman,” according to Sir Frederic Rogers, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. But there were a few non-genius moments.
Macdonald woke up in the middle of the night to find that both he and his bed were on fire. His hair and hands were singed and his shoulder was burned—but he carried on.