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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Lawrence Geoffrey Power
P.C., K.C., B.A., LL.B. (1901–1905)

Lawrence Power came to the Senate with an ideal background for a future Speaker. He was well-educated, familiar with parliamentary procedure, and experienced in drafting legislative bills.

In 1858, he received his B.A. when he was just 16 years old from St. Mary’s College, a small Roman Catholic institution in Halifax. For two years, he studied at a pair of Roman Catholic colleges in Ireland. He earned his Bachelor of Laws degree at Harvard Law School, where he took part in mock parliaments. One of his classmates at Harvard was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who would sit on the United States Supreme Court for 30 years.

Power’s father was a member of the House of Commons, but rather than politics the younger Power initially chose non-partisan work: he was Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Bills of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1867 to 1877. As part of his duties he drafted several major bills and helped prepare the Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia. He was elected twice to the Halifax City Council and served as a commissioner of schools for a decade.

His interest in Roman Catholicism may have led indirectly to his appointment to the Senate in 1877 by Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie. The year before, he had written a letter to the Toronto Globe challenging the opposition of certain Roman Catholic prelates to the Liberal Party – a letter that attracted wide attention. When the Nova Scotian Sir Edward Kenny – the spokesman for English-speaking Roman Catholics – was removed from the Senate for non-attendance, Power was seen as a logical replacement.

He was appointed Speaker 24 years later, in 1901, “owing to his wide knowledge, his sterling character, courtesy and general spirit of fairness,” a later observer suggested. He served as Speaker until 1905. Sir John A. Macdonald is said to have remarked as Power passed by, “There goes an honest man.”

Power, an amateur historian, wrote on subjects as varied as the location of Vinland, the Senate of Canada, and the Manitoba Schools Question.

Next Speaker: Right Hon. Raoul Dandurand

Previous Speaker: Hon. Sir Charles Alphonse Pantaléon Pelletier

Portrait of the Honourable Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Born: Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1841

Died: Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1921

Professional Background: Law

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: