Parliamentary Treasures: A Glimpse Inside the Archives of the Senate of Canada

Title

Life and Personalities on Parliament Hill

The original Senate Chamber, before the fire of 1916. On February 17, 1896, the Countess of Aberdeen, wife of the Governor General, hosted a Fancy Dress Ball in the Senate Chamber. The theme of the ball was to represent the various epochs of Canadian history. Dances were arranged for each period, with the ladies and gentlemen in attendance representing the various historic personages connected with Canada and its settlement. The ball was attended by 1,200 people, each of whom portrayed a character.

Traditions and Protocol

Life in Parliament is enriched by traditions and protocol, many of which dictate the dress and accoutrements of its officers. Speakers wear a tricorn hat; the Usher of the Black Rod a bicorn one.

Tricorn hats
Tricorn hats
Bicorn hats
Bicorn hats
The Usher of the Black Rod’s sabre
The Usher of the Black Rod’s sabre
The Usher of the Black Rod’s sabre

In 1997, the title of Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod was changed to Usher of the Black Rod upon the nomination to the office of Ms. Mary C. McLaren, the first woman to occupy the position. The Black Rod wears a sabre and carries a black rod as a symbol of authority. The Black Rod is assisted by a Mace Bearer, who carries the mace, a symbol of royal authority. Its presence is a sign that the Sovereign has granted the House permission to meet. The Senate cannot meet until the mace is in the Chamber.

Detail of the Black Rod
Detail of the Black Rod
Mary C. McLaren was appointed Usher of the Black Rod in 1997, the first woman to hold the position.
Mary C. McLaren was appointed Usher of the Black Rod in 1997, the first woman to hold the position.
The Black Rod
The Black Rod
The Mace
The Mace

The Judges’ Woolsack is no longer in use in Canada, and the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada are undoubtedly eternally grateful. At Westminster, two woolsacks are traditionally used, one for the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords (formerly the Lord Chancellor), and the other, known as the Judges’ Woolsack, for the Law Lords. In Ottawa, the Judges’ Woolsack was used in the past for the opening and closing ceremonies of Parliament. (The closing ceremony, which used to occur at the end of a parliamentary session, last took place in 1983.) The use of the Woolsack was discontinued in the mid-20th century.

The Judges’ Woolsack remains in the care of the Senate.
The Judges’ Woolsack remains in the care of the Senate.
Opening of the 19th Parliament by Chief Justice Sir Lyman P. Duff, Administrator of Canada, May 16, 1940. Credit: National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-802771
Opening of the 19th Parliament by Chief Justice Sir Lyman P. Duff, Administrator of Canada, May 16, 1940. The Honourable Cairine Reay Wilson, the first woman named to the Senate,
is seated in the middle row, left side.

Sovereigns

Canada has been a monarchy since the early Europeans established New France. Today it is a constitutional monarchy in which, in matters of state, the Sovereign through the Governor General acts only upon advice from the responsible authority. The succession is therefore a matter of constitutional interest, and that, in 1936, became a constitutional crisis when King George V died. His eldest son, King Edward VIII, was only king from January to December 1936, when he abdicated for love. The Privy Council of Canada requested and consented to the enactment of United Kingdom legislation altering the succession by Order-in-Council P.C. 3144, dated December 10, 1936, and in the following year the Parliament of Canada ratified this consent in the Succession to the Throne Act, 1937. Following the abdication, Edward VIII’s brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York, became King George VI. He died in 1952 and was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth II.

As with previous notable events relating to the monarchy, official messages were sent on behalf of all Canadians in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The succession was once again the subject of U.K. and Canadian legislation in 2013. That reform ended both the primacy of males over females and the disqualification of persons married to Roman Catholic spouses in the succession to the Crown.

The correspondence shown here reflects some of the state protocol associated with official messages.

Message regarding death of King George V, 1936
Message regarding death of King George V, 1936
Letter of Thanks signed by Queen Mary, 1936
Letter of Thanks signed by Queen Mary, 1936
Letter of Abdication from Edward VIII, 1936
Letter of Abdication from Edward VIII, 1936
Message from Queen Elizabeth II about the death of King George VI, 1952
Message from Queen Elizabeth II about the death of King George VI, 1952
Letter of Thanks signed by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, 1952
Letter of Thanks signed by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, 1952
Queen Elizabeth II opens the 23rd Parliament of Canada in 1957 in the Senate Chamber. Credit: Malak / Library and Archives Canada / C-007749
Queen Elizabeth II opens the 23rd Parliament of Canada in 1957 in the Senate Chamber. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, seated to the immediate right of the Throne, looks on. The 23rd Parliament holds the distinction of being the only one to be opened in person by a Sovereign. Her Majesty also opened the 3rd session of the 30th Parliament in 1977.

Sovereigns Since Confederation

Queen Victoria (1837–1901)

King Edward VII (1901–1910)

King George V (1910–1936)

King Edward VIII (1936)

King George VI (1936–1952)

Queen Elizabeth II (1952–present)

A Celebration of the Crown in Canada

The Diamond Jubilee Window above the Senate entrance to the Centre Block of Canada’s Parliament Buildings depicts the two female monarchs in Canada’s history. It was a gift to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the Senate of Canada to celebrate the 60th year of her reign in 2012. A ribbon in the glass declares “Diamond Jubilee,” linking these two Queens who both achieved the rare milestone of their 60th year as Sovereign.

The Diamond Jubilee Window above the Senate entrance to the Centre Block of Canada’s Parliament Buildings

Governors General

Canada’s Sovereign, its head of state, is represented by the Governor General, who participates in the legislative process by giving Royal Assent. When both Houses have agreed on the text of a bill, the Governor General transforms it into an Act by signifying Royal Assent. This used to be done exclusively by the Governor General or a deputy in person, in the Senate Chamber, in Parliament assembled. However, since the adoption of the Royal Assent Act in 2002, Royal Assent can also now be given by written declaration, either by the Governor General or a Deputy Governor General.

Royal Assent Act, 2002
Royal Assent Act, 2002

Governors General of Canada

The Viscount Monck (1867–1868)

Lord Lisgar (1869–1872)

The Earl of Dufferin (1872–1878)

The Duke of Argyll (Marquess of Lorne) (1878–1883)

The Marquess of Lansdowne (1883–1888)

The Earl of Derby (Lord Stanley) (1888–1893)

The Earl of Aberdeen (1893–1898)

The Earl of Minto (1898–1904)

Earl Grey (1904–1911)

H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught (1911–1916)

The Duke of Devonshire (1916–1921)

Lord Byng (1921–1926)

The Viscount Willingdon (1926–1931)

The Earl of Bessborough (1931–1935)

Lord Tweedsmuir (1935–1940)

The Earl of Athlone (1940–1946)

The Viscount Alexander (1946–1952)

The Right Honourable Charles Vincent Massey (1952–1959)

General The Right Honourable Georges-Philias Vanier
(1959–1967)

The Right Honourable Daniel Roland Michener (1967–1974)

The Right Honourable Jules Léger (1974–1979)

The Right Honourable Edward Richard Schreyer (1979–1984)

The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé (1984–1990)

The Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn (1990–1995)

The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc (1995–1999)

The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson (1999–2005)

The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean (2005–2010)

The Right Honourable David Johnston (2010–present)

Speakers of the Senate and
Speakers of the House of Commons

Speakers of the Senate

The Honourable Joseph Édouard Cauchon
(1867–1869; 1869–1872; 1872)

The Honourable John Ross (1869)

The Honourable Amos Edwin Botsford (1872; 1880)

The Honourable Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau
(1873–1874)

The Honourable David Christie (1874–1878)

The Honourable Robert Duncan Wilmot (1878–1880)

The Honourable David Lewis Macpherson (1880–1883)

The Honourable William Miller (1883–1887)

The Honourable Josiah Burr Plumb (1887–1888)

The Honourable George William Allan (1888–1891)

The Honourable Alexandre Lacoste (1891)

The Honourable John Jones Ross (1891–1896)

The Honourable Charles Alphonse Pantaléon Pelletier (1896–1901)

The Honourable Lawrence Geoffrey Power (1901–1905)

The Right Honourable Raoul Dandurand (1905–1909)

The Honourable James Kirkpatrick Kerr (1909–1911)

The Honourable Auguste-Charles-Philippe-Robert Landry (1911–1916)

The Honourable Joseph Bolduc (1916–1922)

The Honourable Hewitt Bostock (1922–1930)

The Honourable Arthur Charles Hardy (1930)

The Honourable Pierre Édouard Blondin (1930–1936)

The Honourable Walter Edward Foster (1936–1940)

The Honourable Georges Parent (1940–1942)

The Honourable Thomas Vien (1943–1945)

The Honourable James Horace King (1945–1949)

The Honourable Elie Beauregard (1949–1953)

The Honourable Wishart McLea Robertson (1953–1957)

The Honourable Mark Robert Drouin (1957–1962)

The Honourable George Stanley White (1962–1963)

The Honourable Maurice Bourget (1963–1966)

The Honourable Sydney John Smith (1966–1968)

The Honourable Jean-Paul Deschatelets (1968–1972)

The Honourable Muriel McQueen Fergusson (1972–1974)

The Honourable Louise Marguerite Renaude Lapointe
(1974–1979)

The Honourable Allister Grosart (1979–1980)

The Honourable Jean Marchand (1980–1983)

The Honourable Maurice Riel (1983–1984)

The Honourable Guy Charbonneau (1984–1993)

The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc (1993–1994)

The Honourable Gildas L. Molgat (1994–2001)

The Honourable Daniel Hays (2001–2006)

The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella (2006–2014)

Speakers of the House of Commons

The Honourable James Cockburn (1867–1874)

The Honourable Timothy Warren Anglin
(1874–1877; 1878)

The Honourable Joseph-Godric Blanchet (1879–1883)

The Honourable George Airey Kirkpatrick (1883–1887)

The Honourable Joseph-Aldéric Ouimet (1887–1891)

The Honourable Peter White (1891–1896)

The Honourable James David Edgar (1896–1899)

The Honourable Thomas Bain (1899–1901)

The Honourable Louis-Philippe Brodeur (1901–1904)

The Honourable Napoléon Antoine Belcourt (1904–1905)

The Honourable Robert Franklin Sutherland (1905–1909)

The Honourable Charles Marcil (1909–1911)

The Honourable Thomas Simpson Sproule (1911–1915)

The Honourable Albert Sévigny (1916–1917)

The Honourable Edgar Nelson Rhodes (1917–1922)

The Honourable Rodolphe Lemieux (1922–1930)

The Honourable George Black (1930–1935)

The Honourable James Langstaff Bowman (1935–1936)

The Honourable Pierre-François Casgrain (1936–1940)

The Honourable James Allison Glen (1940–1945)

The Honourable Gaspard Fauteux (1945–1949)

The Honourable William Ross Macdonald (1949–1953)

The Honourable Louis-René Beaudoin (1953–1957)

The Right Honourable Daniel Roland Michener (1957–1962)

The Honourable Marcel Joseph Aimé Lambert (1962–1963)

The Honourable Alan Aylesworth Macnaughton (1963–1966)

The Honourable Lucien Lamoureux (1966–1974)

The Honourable James Alexander Jerome (1974–1980)

The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé (1980–1984)

The Honourable Cyril Lloyd Francis (1984)

The Honourable John William Bosley (1984–1986)

The Honourable John Allen Fraser (1986–1994)

The Honourable Gilbert Parent (1994–2001)

The Honourable Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken (2001–2011)

The Honourable Andrew Scheer (2011–present)

Members of Parliament

Who is a “Member of Parliament?” In French the answer is clear: the word “parlementaires” includes “sénateurs” and “députés.” In English the matter can be confusing. Legally, such as when Parliament speaks in Acts, the expression “Member of Parliament” extends to include both Senators and Members of the House of Commons. However, in everyday language, “Member of Parliament” and the related acronym “MP” have acquired the more restrictive sense of “Member of the House of Commons.”

Plaques listing Senators by Parliament in the Visitors’ Centre in the Centre Block.
Plaques listing Senators by Parliament in the Visitors’ Centre in the Centre Block.

Since Confederation, the Constitution has required that newly appointed Senators swear allegiance to the Sovereign and declare and testify in writing that they are competent to sit. The Rules of the Senate of Canada complement the Constitution by requiring Senators to renew their Declaration of Qualification at the start of each new Parliament. A Senator is required to be between the ages of 30 and 75; to be a subject of the Sovereign; to have over $4,000 in net assets; to have over $4,000 in net equity in land to which he or she has title; and to be resident in the province for which he or she is appointed. In addition, Quebec Senators represent a division within that province and must either be resident or own land in the division that they represent.

Declaration of Qualification of Senators, 1880
Declaration of Qualification of Senators, 1880

Clerks of the Senate and Clerks of the Parliaments, and Clerks of the House of Commons

The Senate and the House of Commons are served by their respective dedicated personnel. These administrations are led by the Clerks of the two Houses. The Clerk of the Senate also serves as the Clerk of the Parliaments, responsible for the stewardship and disclosure of the parliamentary record. Although the role of Clerk of the Parliaments was conferred upon the Clerk of the Senate at Confederation by An Act respecting the Statutes of Canada (1867), the title was only given by an amendment to that Act made in 1872.

Extract from An Act to amend the Act respecting the Statutes of Canada, 1872
Extract from An Act to amend the Act respecting the Statutes of Canada, 1872

Clerks of the Senate and Clerks of the Parliaments

Mr. John Fennings Taylor, Sr. (1867–1871)

Mr. Robert Le Moine (1871–1883)

Mr. Edouard-Joseph Langevin (1883–1900)

Mr. Samuel-Edmour St-Onge Chapleau (1900–1917)

Mr. Austen Ernest Blount (1917–1938)

Mr. L. Clare Moyer (1938–1955)

Mr. John Forbes MacNeill (1955–1968)

Mr. Robert Fortier (1968–1981)

Mr. Charles A. Lussier (1981–1989)

Mr. Gordon Barnhart (1989–1994)

Mr. Paul C. Bélisle (1994–2009)

Mr. Gary W. O’Brien (2009–present)

Clerks of the House of Commons

Mr. William Burns Lindsay (1867–1872)

Mr. Alfred Patrick (1873–1880)

Mr. John George Bourinot (1880–1902)

Mr. Thomas Barnard Flint (1902–1917)

Mr. William Barton Northrup (1918–1924)

Mr. Arthur Beauchesne (1925–1949)

Mr. Léon-Joseph Raymond (1949–1967)

Mr. Alistair Fraser (1967–1979)

Mr. Charles Beverley Koester (1979–1987)

Mr. Robert Marleau (1987–2000)

Mr. William C. Corbett (2000–2005)

Ms. Audrey Elizabeth O’Brien (2005–present)