John George Bourinot (younger)

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Sir John George Bourinot
John George Bourinot.jpg
Bourinot photographed in 1888 by William James Topley
3rd Clerk of the House of Commons of Canada
In office
December 1880 – October 1902
Preceded by Alfred Patrick
Succeeded by Thomas Barnard Flint
11th President of the Royal Society of Canada
In office
Preceded by Joseph-Clovis-Kemner Laflamme
Succeeded by George Mercer Dawson
Personal details
Born (1836-10-24)October 24, 1836
Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
Died February 13, 1902(1902-02-13) (aged 65)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Resting place Beechwood Cemetery
Nationality Canadian
Parents John George Bourinot
Occupation Journalist, historian, parliamentary official

Sir John George Bourinot, KCMG FRSC (October 24, 1836 – October 13, 1902) was a Canadian journalist, historian, and civil servant, sole author of the first Canadian effort in 1884 to document Parliamentary Procedure and Practice,[1] and remembered as an expert in parliamentary procedure and constitutional law.


Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, he was the oldest son of John Bourinot.[2] He was educated at Sydney before enrolling at Trinity College, Toronto, in 1854. Although he was a good student, he left the university two years later and worked as a parliamentary reporter for a Toronto newspaper. In 1860, he was in Halifax, where he founded, together with Joseph C. Crosskill, his own newspaper, the Evening Reporter. In May 1867, Bourinot left this newspaper and worked as a freelance writer for some time, until he secured a job as a clerk at the Senate of Canada in May 1869. In the following years, he steadily advanced through various grades until he was appointed chief clerk of the House of Commons of Canada in December 1880. a post he would occupy until his death 22 years later.

A founding member of the Royal Society of Canada, he also acted as its honorary secretary, and in 1892 served as president of the society. He wrote many books political history, some of which were considered references for decades to come. His Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in Canada (Montréal, 1884) is considered a standard work, and was cited as recently as 24 October 2013 by the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Noel Kinsella.[3] How Canada is governed (Toronto, 1895) was a widely used textbook, and Canada under British rule, 1760 – 1900 (Cambridge, England, 1900) was also popular. He also wrote books about the history of Nova Scotia, and several more on constitutional law. He also created the work that was posthumously to be called Bourinot's Rules of Order.

Bourinot was an advocate of Imperial Federation and a proponent of both a national university and library of Canada. He also was in favour of the right of women to higher education. In his later life, Bourinot received honorary degrees from many Canadian universities and was created CMG in 1890 and KCMG in 1898. He died in Ottawa, Ontario and was buried in Beechwood Cemetery there.


Bourinot was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1893.[4]



Further reading[edit]

  • Banks, M. A.: Sir John George Bourinot, Victorian Canadian: His Life, Times, and Legacy, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7735-2191-7.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Alfred Patrick
Clerk of the House of Commons of Canada
Succeeded by
Thomas Barnard Flint
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Joseph-Clovis-Kemner Laflamme
President of the Royal Society of Canada
Succeeded by
George Mercer Dawson