Collection Spotlight

Short Lessons for Members of Parliament / Tactique de l’Assemblée législative

Published in 1862, Short Lessons for Members of Parliament / Tactique de l’Assemblée législative is an example of a pre-Confederation parliamentary pamphlet. Pamphlets are shorter works that are non-serial (not journals or periodicals) and unbound (originally printed without a cover). 

The pamphlet was produced for members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada (located in Québec City at the time). According to the introduction, the author’s aim was to produce a brief, non-partisan piece to help familiarize the members with parliamentary rules and practice. The pamphlet is bilingual, printed so that on facing pages, English is on the left and the equivalent text in French is on the right. Common parliamentary terms and administrative roles are explained and arranged in alphabetical order according to the English terms, from “adjournment” to “ways and means.”

The original English text is attributed to George Benjamin. His name is listed as the author in Supplementary catalogue of the Library of Parliament: Pamphlets, published in 1864. Benjamin was the Member of Parliament for the riding of North Hastings from 1856 to 1861. He also chaired the Printing Committee. The text was translated to French by Eugène-Philippe Dorion, who was the Chief French Translator and Assistant Law Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Hunter, Rose & Co., the official printers of the Legislative Assembly, printed the pamphlet.


  • The complete title is Short Lessons for Members of Parliament: Compiled from English and other publications by a Canadian M.P. of experience in legislative routine / Tactique de l’Assemblée législative : ouvrage compilé de publications anglaises et autres, par un député canadien versé dans les usages parlementaires.
  • The Library of Parliament’s two copies measure 20 cm high and contain 70 pages.
  • One copy was rebound by hand, in boards covered in red cloth. The lettering, which uses the Folio typeface, is tooled in gold. This work was likely done in the early 1960s, based on the copy’s aging, discoloration and choice of typeface. The rebinding would have been done to protect the document’s fragile pages and prolong the life of the text.
  • Pamphlets were meant to be produced quickly and cheaply. The quality of the paper reflects this: the aging pages are acidic and brittle. Because they are fragile, pamphlets are kept in individual acid-free envelopes.
English title page on the left and the translation in French on the right
Title page, showing the text in English on the left and the translation in French on the right
Closed red book on a black surface
Bound copy covered in red cloth with gold lettering
A large envelope and old stained pages on a black surface

Unbound copy stored in an acid-free envelope. The paper’s inherent acidity caused the staining; holes from a stitching machine and pieces of glue from a previous binding are visible along the edges