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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. John Jones Ross
P.C., M.D. (1891–1896)

Dr. John Ross, a physician and railway entrepreneur, spent 40 years as an active politician in a remarkable and perhaps unequalled number of positions in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada (1861–1867), the Legislative Assembly (1867) and the Legislative Council (1867–1901) of the new Province of Quebec, the House of Commons (1867–1874), and the Senate (1887–1901).

During much of this time he held seats simultaneously in provincial and federal assemblies until the double mandate was abolished. In Quebec, he was Speaker of the Legislative Council, three times. In addition to being a member of the Cabinet as Speaker, he held two other Cabinet posts, and was Premier of Quebec for three years. Ross resigned as Premier in 1887, largely because of the failure of his government to take a clear position on the hanging of Louis Riel in 1885 after the North-West Rebellion. Three months later, Conservative Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald appointed him to the Senate.

His role in the Senate, so far as Ross was concerned, was to “protect the interests and defend the representation of the province of Quebec.” Although he did not have a reputation as a forceful leader or compelling debater, he was “universally esteemed” in Parliament, a contemporary observer noted. In 1891, after the death of Macdonald, the new Conservative Prime Minister, Senator John Abbott, appointed Ross Speaker of the Senate.

Towards what would be the end of Ross’s term as Speaker in 1896, Prime Minister Sir Charles Tupper appointed him to his short-lived Cabinet (from May 1 to July 8, 1896).

Ross served as Speaker of the upper chamber at both the provincial and federal levels.

Next Speaker: Hon. Sir Charles Alphonse Pantaléon Pelletier

Previous Speaker: Hon. Sir Alexandre Lacoste

Portrait of the Honourable John Jones Ross

Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Lower Canada, 1831

Died: Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Quebec, 1901

Professional Background: Medicine

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Ministers During Speakership: