# Note on the Average Age of Senators since Confederation

## Article excerpt

The data required to complete the study was obtained from listings prepared by the Senate Communication Office, the Library of Parliament, and the Canadian Parliamentary Guide. The necessary data for each Senator included the date of birth, date of summons, and date the Senator ceased to be a member (because of retirement, resignation, death, or disqualification).

Method

A series of Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets was used to calculate relevant statistics from this data. The average age of Senators in a given year is based on the Upper Chamber's membership as of December 31.

New Senators were added in the year of their appointment at the age they had attained at December 31 of that year. In 1867, each Senator's age was recorded as of December 31, 1867. When a Senator resigned or died, he or she was not included in the average for that year (which was calculated as at December 31).

If a Senator turned 69 on June 30, his or her age is set at 69 (not 69.5) for the purpose of calculations as of December 31. The same principle applies for all birth dates regardless of where they fall between January 1 and December 31.

Results

The average age of Senators for each year is found in Table 1. A total of 770 persons have sat in the Senate including four who were reappointed after resignation and one who was reappointed twice.

In 1867, the year that Senators were first appointed, the average age was 55.3. At the end of 1993, a total of 770 persons had been appointed to the Senate. This number includes four Senators who were reappointed after resignation and one who was reappointed twice. In 1917, it dropped suddenly to 64.0 because a total of 26 Senators were appointed, including many of a relatively young age.

After 1917, the average age of a Senator climbed steadily to a peak of 71.2 in 1961. Following mandatory retirement in 1965, the average fell significantly and stood at 65.9 in 1966. Over the next two decades, the overall trend was a further decrease in the average age. In 1993, the average stood at 62.6 For the years 1984 to 1993, the average was fairly stable ranging between 62.1 and 63.6. The average has not been below 62 since 1885.

The youngest Senator was William Miller from Nova Scotia who was 32 when summoned in 1867. The oldest Senator was Georges-Casimir Dessaules of Quebec who died at age 103 in 1930. The only other centenarian was David Wark of New Brunswick who was 101 when he died in 1905. A total of 22 Senators have sat in the Chamber after their 90th birthdays. A further 138 Senators sat past their 80th birthdays. A total of 162 Senators were at least 80 years old when they ceased to be members. This represents 21.0% of all Senators ever appointed and 27.6% of Senators appointed prior to 1965.

Only two "lifers" were sitting at the end of 1994. These Senators were appointed before 1965 and hold their seats for life: Orville Phillips (70), and John MacDonald (88). …