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The Speakers of the Canadian House of Commons


Hon. Joseph-Aldric Ouimet
P.C. (1887–1891)

Joseph-Aldric* Ouimet had two main interests as a young man, both of which would influence his later career: military service and legal work. He graduated from infantry school in Quebec when he was only 17; by the end of 1870, at the age of 22, he had taken his law degree in Ontario, he was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Chasseurs canadiens, and he had fought against the second Fenian raid. With Conservative politics next in mind, in 1873 he began 23 years of service as an MP, firmly behind Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald’s Liberal–Conservative policies on, for example, a protective tariff and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

In 1885 — as a lieutenant colonel — he recruited a Montréal regiment to accompany him to the North-West Rebellion. On his return he broke with Macdonald by voting to censure the government for ordering the execution of Louis Riel. It was said that Macdonald was attempting a reconciliation when he nominated Ouimet for the Speaker’s position in 1887. As Leader of the Opposition Edward Blake stated before Ouimet’s election, the new Speaker owed his promotion to the fact that he had condemned and voted against the execution of Louis Riel as well as the government’s conduct concerning the Metis peoples.

Ouimet’s four years in the Chair went relatively smoothly; a contemporary observer commented that his “unfailing good temper, his manifest desire to hold the scales of justice even, ... won for him the approval of both sides of the House.” Following the 1891 general election, and the government’s wish to alternate between French- and English-speaking Speakers, Ouimet returned to the backbenches and Macdonald nominated Peter White as Speaker. The following year Prime Minister Sir John Abbott brought Ouimet into the Cabinet as Minister of Public Works. After four years Ouimet left politics for a judicial appointment to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Quebec, where he served until ill health forced him to resign in 1906.

After raising a regiment to quell the 1885 North-West Rebellion, Ouimet later opposed the execution of Louis Riel.

Next Speaker: Hon. Peter White

Previous Speaker: Hon. Sir George Airey Kirkpatrick

The names Aldric and Aldéric are used interchangeably in different sources.Return to text ]

Artist: René Émile Quentin
Date: 1889

Born: Ste-Rose, Canada East, 1848

Died: St-Polycarpe, Quebec, 1916

Professional Background:
Law, Military

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: