A History of Canada: Dominion of the North

By Donald Creighton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
NATIONAL SUCCESS AND IMPERIAL REORGANIZATION

I

ON AN AFTERNOON in late August, 1896, the members of the House of Commons assembled in their chamber for the first session of the eighth, the newly elected Parliament of Canada. A short while before they had been sworn in. That venerable parliamentary official, the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, had then invited them to the Senate; and there the Speaker of the Senate had informed them, in the time-honoured phraseology, that 'His Excellency the Governor General does not see fit to declare the causes of his summoning the present Parliament of Canada until the Speaker of the House of Commons shall have been chosen according to law; but tomorrow, at the hour of three o'clock in the afternoon, His Excellency will declare the causes of his calling this Parliament.' The members had returned to the Commons chamber, where the mace still lay under the table, awaiting the election of a speaker. The room was rapidly filling up. Most of the ministers were in their places. And then everybody's gaze was suddenly fixed upon the tall, slight figure of a man who had just entered. He was well -- even elegantly -- dressed; people had noticed his gloves, stick, and silk hat at the swearing-in ceremony a little while before; and he had about him an air of unassuming but graceful distinction. There was a burst of

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