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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau
Q.C. (1873–1874)

Before Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald nominated him for appointment to the Senate, Pierre Chauveau already had had a federal political career that extended over 11 years. At the age of 24, he ran successfully for a seat in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1844, and he was re-elected in 1848, 1851 and 1854. He held two ministry posts from 1851 to 1854. He was also a journalist, poet and novelist: his novel, Charles Guérin (1852), was widely praised. Chauveau was a founder of the Royal Society of Canada.

When the position of Superintendent of Canada East’s Board of Education became available in 1855, Chauveau was appointed to the position. He instituted significant reforms during his dozen years, and in the charged sectarian atmosphere of Canada East, he was generally seen to have brought in worthwhile improvements. When Joseph Cauchon failed to form a government for the new Province of Quebec in 1867, Chauveau was asked to be Premier largely on the strength of his educational work. He was able to bring together a ministry, and held it together for five years.

By 1873, Chauveau realized that factionalism in his ministry made his resignation inevitable. Hector-Louis Langevin, a prominent Quebec Conservative, arranged his summons to the Senate and appointment as Speaker.

In November 1873, Prime Minister Macdonald’s government resigned over a question of bribery in awarding contracts for the railway to the Pacific. Chauveau was replaced as Speaker by the incoming government of Alexander Mackenzie, and he resigned from the Senate at the same time to run for a seat in the House of Commons; however, he was defeated. He returned to writing, received two patronage appointments with the Quebec Harbour Commission and as Sheriff of Montréal, and then taught law at Laval University’s new Montréal campus from 1878 to 1890, the year of his death.

Chauveau became Quebec Premier when Joseph Cauchon could not form a government; later he succeeded Cauchon as Speaker of the Senate.

Next Speaker: Hon. David Christie

Previous Speaker: Hon. Amos Edwin Botsford

Portrait of the Honourable Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau

Born: City of Québec, Lower Canada, 1820

Died: City of Québec, Quebec, 1890

Professional Background:
Law, Literature

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Ministers During Speakership: