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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. John Ross
Q.C. (1869)

A long-serving politician before Confederation, John Ross served as Speaker of the Legislative Council – the upper house – of the Province of Canada from 1854 to 1856. He was well connected to leading political families in Canada West, having married the daughter of Robert Baldwin, co-Premier of the province, and held offices in several ministries during his 19 years on the Legislative Council. His role on political and economic missions that he undertook in Great Britain has been described as “one of the antecedents of the office of high commissioner in London.”

Ross was one of the first 72 senators appointed at Confederation in 1867. Less than two years later, when Senate Speaker Joseph Édouard Cauchon was absent from the chamber to attend his son’s funeral, Ross was appointed Speaker in his place for 10 days (May 17–26, 1869).

Until 1894, the Senate had no procedure for appointing a deputy or acting Speaker who could step in when the Speaker was unexpectedly or unavoidably absent during the session. Another Speaker had to be formally appointed in the absent Speaker’s place. Upon returning, the original Speaker would be reappointed by the Governor General. In 1894, a statute was passed to provide for a Deputy Speaker in the Senate.

Ross served in the Senate until his death on January 31, 1871.

Ross was the first of several senators appointed on a temporary basis to fill in for an absent Speaker.

Next Speaker: Hon. Amos Edwin Botsford

Previous Speaker: Hon. Joseph Édouard Cauchon

Portrait of the Honourable John Ross

Born: County Antrim, Ireland, 1818

Died: Toronto, Ontario, 1871;

Professional Background:
Law, Business, Military

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: