Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
February 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia



[This article was published in 1948. For the exact citation, see th end of the document.]

Lieutenant-Governor. This term has been used from the beginning of British rule in Canada to denote a representative of the Crown governing a district or province under the supervision of a governor-in-chief. The powers of lieutenant-governors have varied in accordance with circumstances. When Sir Guy Carleton was sent out to Canada in 1766, he was appointed merely lieutenant-governor, because General Murray still retained his commission of governor; but when he was made governor in 1768, the change of title made little difference in his powers. On the other hand, when the title of Thomas Carleton was changed in 1786 from that of governor of New Brunswick to that of lieutenant-­governor, because Lord Dorchester had been appointed governor-in-chief of British North America, the change again made little difference in regard to powers. In 1791, when Canada was divided into Upper and Lower Canada, a lieutenant-governor was appointed to serve under the governor-in-chief; but the lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada became virtually independent of the governor-in-chief at Quebec, whereas the lieutenant-governor of Lower Canada was an officer who served only as a deputy for the governor-in-chief when he was absent from Quebec. (The lieutenant-governor of Lower Canada must, of course, be distinguished from the lieutenant-governor of Quebec, who was a purely military official.) At Confederation, in 1867, the lieutenant­governors of the provinces were continued, as representing the Crown in the province under the governor-general of the Dominion; but under the terms of the British North America Act the lieutenant-governors of the provinces became the representatives of the Crown only in a secondary sense. They were henceforth appointed by the Dominion government, and not, like the lieutenant­governors of the states in the Australian Commonwealth, by the Imperial government; and they thus have always represented primarily the Dominion government. They perform, however, within the province, functions parallel with those performed by the governor­general in the Dominion; and it is a curious fact that the office of lieutenant­governor is the only feature of the constitutions of the provinces of Canada which may not be abolished or altered by Act of the provincial legislatures.




Until 1927 the official designation of lieutenant-governor of the provinces of Canada was merely "His Honour"; but in 1927, at the time of the jubilee of Confederation, an order-in-council was passed conferring on them the designation of "The Honourable".

Source : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 400p., pp. 82-83.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College