Skip to main content

The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Wishart McLea Robertson
P.C. (1953–1957)

W ishart Robertson’s family represents a striking commitment to public service in Nova Scotia and nationally. His grandfather Robert sat in the pre-Confederation House of Assembly for a dozen years and after that in the provincial House of Assembly for another decade. ​Robert was twice a Cabinet minister. Wishart’s father, Thomas, was a member of the House of Commons for the Nova Scotia riding of Shelburne from 1878 to 1887, and a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1894 to 1902, serving as its Speaker for a short period.

During the First World War, Wishart Robertson joined the 219th Highland Battalion (Nova Scotia) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force; while overseas, he transferred to the 85th Overseas Battalion, the Nova Scotia Highlanders. On his return he set up two automobile dealerships in Halifax. In 1928, he was elected to the provincial Shelburne riding once held by both his grandfather and his father.

By 1943, he was President of the National Liberal Federation, when Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King nominated him for appointment to the Senate. Two years later, he was appointed Minister without Portfolio and Leader of the Government in the Senate, until Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent appointed him as Speaker in 1953. His tenure ended with the defeat of the St-Laurent government in 1957.

In addition to his parliamentary career, Robertson was known for his contributions to international affairs. Having originally focused on Canada’s participation in the United Nations, Robertson later concentrated on the political, economic and social elements of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He was instrumental in the creation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association and the NATO International Parliamentary Association.

Robertson won the 1954 Atlantic Award for outstanding service to the NATO community for his efforts, which ultimately led to the formation of the NATO International Parliamentary Association in July 1955.

Next Speaker: Hon. Mark Robert Drouin

Previous Speaker: Hon. Elie Beauregard

Portrait of the Honourable Wishart McLea Robertson

Born: Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia, 1891

Died: Ottawa, Ontario, 1967

Professional Background:
Business, Military

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: