Usher of the Black Rod (Canada)
|Usher of the Black Rod
Huissier du Bâton Noir
|Parliament of Canada|
|Appointer||Governor General in Council|
|First holder||René Kimber|
The Usher of the Black Rod (French: Huissier du Bâton Noir), often shortened to Black Rod is the most senior protocol position in the Parliament of Canada. Black Rod leads the Speaker's Parade at the beginning of each sitting of the Senate and oversees protocol and administrative and logistical details of important events taking place on Parliament Hill, such as the opening of parliament and the Speech from the Throne.
The office is modelled on the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Upon the appointment of the first woman to the position of Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod on 20 October 1997, the title was changed to Usher of the Black Rod.
The usher carries an ebony and gold staff of office modelled on that used in the House of Lords. Canada's original Rod is believed to have been made in the 1840s in Montreal for the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, and then transferred to the Senate after Confederation in 1867, but it was lost in the 1916 fire that destroyed Centre Block. The current rod was crafted the same year by then-Crown Jeweller Garrard & Co..
The rod was snapped in half in 1967, and underwent only amateur repairs at the hands of then-Senator Henry Davies Hicks in his personal workshop; over the years it has additionally suffered scratching, cracking, and loss of pieces. Accordingly, on the occasion of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2016, Her Majesty bestowed a restoration by artisans and craftspeople at Windsor Castle under the direction of Adrian Smith, L.V.O., which went as far as to replace the central ebony Rod itself with a 20th Century ebony walking cane.
The top consists of a lion on its hind legs displaying a shield decorated with a royal cypher George IV of the United Kingdom, the reigning monarch of the time, and bearing the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense. Its middle knob is made of silver with maple leaf engravings (in contrast to the oak leaves used in its UK counterpart, which is made of gold), and is currently engraved with the name of Queen Elizabeth II, inscribed during its restoration. The base is set with a 1904 Gold Sovereign, displaying St. George slaying the Dragon.
List of office holders
Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod
From 1867 to 1997, the title of the office was formally known as the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.
- 1867–1875: René Kimber
- 1875–1901: René Edouard Kimber (Son of René Kimber)
- 1902–1904: Molyneux St. John
- 1904–1925: Ernest John Chambers
- 1925–1946: Andrew Ruthven Thompson
- 1947–1970: Charles Rock Lamoureux
- 1970–1979: A. Guy Vandelac
- 1979–1984: Thomas Guy Bowie
- 1984–1985: Claude G. Lajoie
- 1985–1989: René Marc Jalbert
- 1989–1990: Rene Gutknecht
- 1990–20 October 1997: Jean Doré
Ushers of the Black Rod
After the first female was appointed to the position, the term gentleman was dropped from the title, with the office referred to only as the Usher of the Black Rod after 20 October 1997.
- Parliament of Canada. "The Senate Speaker's Parade". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
- "Ushered out". Political Bytes. CBC. 18 January 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
- "Notice of Vacancy, Usher of the Black Rod" (PDF). Canada Gazette Part I. Queen's Printer for Canada. 142 (2). 12 January 2008.
- Parliament of Canada. "Officers and Officials of Parliament". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
- "A royal restoration of the Black Rod". Senate of Canada. October 5, 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- Parliament of Canada. "Procedural Officers and Senior Officials: Senate". Queen's Printer for Canada.