If Canada maintained a list of mediocre prime ministers like the mediocre presidents parodied by The Simpsons, Sir Mackenzie Bowell would surely round out the top five along with Sir John Abbot, Sir John Thompson, Kim Campbell, and Joe Clark. Our second and last Senator prime minister languished in obscurity for most of the 20th century, but he seems to have regained some renewed interest in the 21st with two recent biographies. Yet it is telling that Canadian historian Betsy Dewar Boyce failed to obtain a publisher for her book in her lifetime; her biography on Bowell did not appear until 2017, ten years after her death, and this book about Bowell has itself disappeared into the ether of the internet.
In 2021, Canadian journalist Barry K. Wilson secured the publication of Sir Mackenzie Bowell: A Canadian Prime Minister Forgotten by History, and I reviewed it for the latest issue of The Dorchester Review, which just came out online today. You can subscribe to it here.