Today in Canada’s Political History: Senators pay tribute to their late colleague, Sir Mackenzie Bowell

Members of the Red Chamber gathered on this date in 1918 for the first time since the death the previous December of former Senator and Prime Minister Sir Mackenzie Bowell. While his service as Prime Minister was brief, he had been a member of both the House and Senate during his 50-year parliamentary career.

“No man in Canada was every actuated by a higher sense of public duty than our late colleague,” Senator James Lougheed, Bowell’s successor as Tory leader in the Senate said in the upper house on March 21, 1918. “He was a bulwark of strength to this chamber. We are proud on both sides of the House to call him our friend and in his death, we can only say a great Canadian has departed from amongst us.”

In another tribute, Liberal Senator H.J. Cloran recalled how Bowell had overcome anti-Catholic sentiment in the Orange Lodge, an organization the 5th Prime Minister had led. “(He was a) friend of bishops, canons, parish priests and canons  of every denomination,” Cloran said. “He was a man who believed in equal rights, equal justice to all classes, all creeds and all races in this Dominion of ours.”Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.