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History of the Office

The Clerk's Office is located in the Centre Block, near the Commons Chamber.

The office of Clerk has a long history in British parliamentary tradition. The first official appointment of a Clerk to the Commons took place in England in 1363, though from much earlier times kings had employed officials to record their decisions and those of their advisors.

In the language of the time, the word “clerk” simply indicated a person who could read and write. Thus, the early Clerks of the House were servants of the Crown appointed to assist the Commons with its business. Their duties included reading petitions and bills.

As the Commons gained in stature and recognition, its Clerk became more identified with the institution. In the mid-sixteenth century, Clerks began keeping notes on proceedings in the House, and these evolved into the Journals. Over time, the role of Clerk grew to include advising the Chair and the House on procedural matters.

Today, in addition to duties in the Chamber, the Clerk is the chief executive of the House administration and its senior permanent official.

Since Confederation, 13 Clerks have served the Canadian House of Commons:

Name Term (year)
Robert, Charles 2017 -
Bosc, Marc (Acting) 2014 - 2017
O'Brien, Audrey Elizabeth
First female Clerk of the House of Commons.
2005 - 2016
Corbett, William C. 2000 - 2005
Marleau, Robert 1987 - 2000
Koester, Charles Beverley 1979 - 1987
Fraser, Alistair 1967 - 1979
Raymond, Léon-Joseph 1949 - 1967
Beauchesne, Arthur 1925 - 1949
Northrup, William Barton 1918 - 1924
Flint, Thomas Barnard 1902 - 1917
Bourinot, John George 1880 - 1902
Patrick, Alfred 1873 - 1880
Lindsay, William Burns 1867 - 1872
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