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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. David Christie
P.C. (1874–1878)

A Scottish-born farmer, David Christie became interested in improving agriculture in Canada West at an early age. By the time he was 31, he was advocating for agrarian reform as part of a group of radical Reform Party supporters calling themselves “Clear Grits” – a name he himself most likely coined. “No dirt, clear grit all the way through,” he said, referring to the pure coarse sand favoured by stonemasons.

Two years later, in 1851, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, and he was re-elected in 1854 and 1857. When the Legislative Council became an elected rather than appointed body, he ran successfully in the 1858 election for an eight-year term, and resigned his seat in the Assembly. Christie spoke out strongly in favour of Confederation, and in 1867, he was appointed to the new Senate of Canada.

Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie appointed Christie to his Cabinet in November 1873 as Secretary of State. Two months later, on January 9, 1874, Christie was appointed as Speaker of the Senate. During his tenure, the members of the Senate authorized him to prepare a report on the rules and forms of Senate procedure, and to put forward any amendments he deemed advisable. His report became the basis of a select Senate committee’s recommendations.

Christie resigned the Speakership when Mackenzie’s government was defeated in October 1878.

Christie is said to have coined the term “Grits,” which became a synonym for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Next Speaker: Hon. Robert Duncan Wilmot

Previous Speaker: Hon. Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau

Portrait of the Honourable David Christie

Born: Edinburgh, Scotland, 1818

Died: Paris, Ontario, 1880

Professional Background:

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: