The Speakers' portrait gallery has a long history that pre-dates Confederation. The gallery is comprised of 53 portraits dating from the 1850s to 2012.
The gallery's origins can be traced back to June 14, 1853, when Joseph-Édouard Turcotte - a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada - proposed that portraits of all former Speakers who held office since 1792, should be painted at public expense. The question put as follows:
“ That the Honorable the Speaker of this House be requested to make arrangements with Théophile Hamel, Esquire, Artist, of this City, with a view of procuring Portraits of the several Speakers of the Legislative Assemblies of Upper and Lower Canada, and of the Province of Canada, in so far as it may be possible to do so; also, of the distinguished persons whose Portraits were in the possession of the Province before the burning of the Parliament House at Montreal. ”
Debates of the Legislative Assembly, pp. 3474-75
By 1864, the Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament agreed that the ex-Speakers themselves should select their own artists, and that portraits should correspond in dimension and style to the earlier portraits. Successive Speakers of the House of Commons have added their portraits to the gallery. The Honourable Marcel Lambert initiated the tradition of holding unveiling ceremonies in 1962, when he informally invited Members of the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Press Gallery to attend the unveiling of a portrait of the Honourable Roland Michener.