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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Joseph Bolduc
P.C. (1916–1922)

Educated as a lawyer and notary, Joseph Bolduc was also a farmer, railway promoter and businessman. The son of a Militia captain, he graduated from the Military School of Quebec at 18 and served as a lieutenant in the Militia. First elected to the House of Commons in 1876 at the age of 29, he was re-elected in 1878 and 1882. Halfway through Bolduc’s third term as a member of Parliament, in 1884, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald nominated him for appointment to the Senate.

Bolduc was noted for his good humour and good will. According to Colonel Ernest Chambers, the Senate’s Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, he was always “favourable to the bonne entente between the different nationalities in this Dominion.”

Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden appointed Bolduc as Speaker in 1916, and his diplomatic skills were soon tested in debate on the Military Service Act of 1917. The proposed act allowed for national conscription for the First World War, and was strongly opposed in Quebec. Senator Philippe-Auguste Choquette attempted to delay conscription, and his speeches were so inflammatory that Bolduc threatened to “name” him, a symbolic censure. Bolduc was interpreting the revised 1906 Rules of the Senate, which authorized the Speaker to preserve order and decorum. Choquette finally sat down without the need for senators to move a motion of censure.

Bolduc died in 1924, after nearly 48 years of service in Parliament.

Bolduc’s popularity was such that when he ran in the election of 1882, his opponent garnered only two votes from among all those votes cast in his and the two adjoining parishes.

Next Speaker: Hon. Hewitt Bostock

Previous Speaker: Hon. Auguste-Charles-Philippe-Robert Landry

Portrait of the Honourable Joseph Bolduc

Born: St-Victor-de-Tring, Canada East, 1847

Died: St-Victor-de-Tring, Quebec, 1924

Professional Background:
Railways, Agriculture, Law, Business

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Ministers During Speakership: