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Sir John George Bourinot

(1836—1902) author and civil servant in Canada


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(1836–1902), journalist, parliamentary reporter, officer of the Senate and the House of Commons, historian, and littérateur. As co-editor of the Halifax Reporter (1860–7), Bourinot consistently advocated a union of ‘these Maritime Provinces’ with their ‘progressive sister colony’, the Province of Canada. As clerk of the House of Commons (1880–1902), he wrote what was for many years the standard Canadian work on parliamentary procedure. Governors general and prime ministers consulted Bourinot, a renowned constitutional authority, as a plaque in Province House, Halifax, describes him, when constitutional issues or crises arose. A founding member of the Royal Society of Canada, Bourinot played a leading role during its first 20 years (1882–1902), serving as honorary secretary throughout the period, except when he was vice-president and then president. His understanding of the administrative and financial sides of running a society and his acquaintance with scholars and government officials were of great assistance—one wonders if the society would have survived its early years without him. Bourinot wrote extensively on constitutional law, intellectual history, general Canadian history, and many other subjects. His role in the parliamentary, constitutional, and cultural life of Canada was highly significant.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.


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