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Description found in Archives

Senate of Canada fonds [multiple media] 



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

39.0 m of textual records
21 maps
5 atlases
134 architectural drawings
1 audio cassette (45 min)

Added language of material: French

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Senate of Canada. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description. Sound recording consists of speeches by Senators on the occasion of the unveiling of an official portrait of Senator Salter A. Hayden on December 13, 1978.

Textual records
32: Restricted by law
Architectural: technical drawings
90: Open
Cartographic material
90: Open
Sound recordings
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.
Other accession no.
1988-0517 MISA

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown. Credit Library and Archives Canada.

Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the NA website). (Other)

Biography / Administrative history

Canada is a constitutional monarchy. The Head of State is the Queen of Great Britain represented in Canada by the Governor General. The Parliament of Canada consists of the Sovereign, an appointed upper house - the Senate, and an elective lower house - the House of Commons. The structure of our government today evolved from the system of government in place in the British colonies of North America before 1867 where a bicameral legislature and responsible or Cabinet government - a government with a Cabinet responsible to Parliament and removable by a majority of elective members of Parliament - had been a feature for many years.

The Senate or Upper House of Parliament was created by the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly the British North America Act, 30-31, Vic., c.3., United Kingdom). The Senate reviews and often makes minor amendments to bills forwarded to it from the House of Commons after second reading, but it rarely rejects a bill. These amendments result from a clause by clause reading of bills in committee and evidence taken from interested parties concerning a particular bill. No bill may become law until it has undergone third reading in the Senate and is passed by it. Although most bills originate in the House of Commons, the Senate with the exception of money bills may also initiate bills.

The Senate also provides a national forum for discussion of public issues and regional concerns. The recommendations of special committees appointed by the Senate may have a major impact on government programs and legislation.

Up to 1968, divorce bills for certain provinces originated in the Senate, but divorces no longer require an Act of Parliament. Quebec and Newfoundland were the last two provinces to need such approval.

Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. They originally held office for life, but since 1965 new appointees must retire at age 75. For appointment to the Senate, one must be at least 30 years old, hold real estate worth 000 net, have total assets of 000 over and above all debts and liabilities, and reside in the province or territory for which they are appointed. In Quebec, they must reside, or have property qualification, in the particular district of the province for which they are appointed.

As originally constituted in 1867, the Senate consisted of 72 members. Currently, there are 104 Senators representing all provinces and territories of Canada. Regional representation is central to the role of the Senate because it serves as a forum for the expression of regional concerns.

The Committee on Internal Economy is responsible for the overall administration of the Senate. One of the main officers is the Speaker who is the chief officer and presides at sittings of the Senate. The Speaker is appointed by Governor in Council and under the Civil Service Act has the rank of Deputy Head. Another important official, the Clerk of Senate, takes the minutes of all Senate proceedings. These minutes are later published as the Journals of the Senate of Canada. The clerk also has custody of all original acts of Parliament and is assisted in his duties by a clerk assistant. Finally, the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod is responsible for supervision of details in regard to the opening of Parliament and maintains order and security along with related duties.

Additional information

Except for the records of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod and the Special Committee on Poverty, most Senate material in our custody pre-dates the Parliamentary fire of 3 February 1916. Over and above that, however, a large body of material exists at the Senate Archives which was established in the 1990s under the direction of Archivist, France Belisle, who is with the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel Branch. Except for the Black Rod's Office, very little material has been transferred to the National Archives from the Senate after the year 1915. However, the Senate has appointed a Records Manager who is responsible for records maintained by that parliamentary body.

Source of title
BNA Act (1867) now called the Constitution Act (1867)

Further accruals are expected.


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1965-018 NPC
2. 1965-019 NPC
3. 1965-029 NPC
4. 1966-121 NPC
5. 1976-224 NPC
6. 1979-185 NPC
7. 1988-0517 MISA