History Idol: Lord Durham

Lord Durham is a name that few Canadians recognize. Richard Pound thinks that is a travesty.

Text by Amanda Hope

Posted May 17, 2010

The name Lord Durham is one that few Canadians recognize. This, despite the fact that he is the father of responsible government in Canada, and that he recommended the union of Upper and Lower Canada — an act that was officially passed on 10 February, 1841.

It is for these reasons that Richard Pound has chosen Lord Durham as his History Idol.

Pound is currently a partner in the Montreal office of Stikeman Elliott, and is included in the 2010 edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada. He was the founding Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency (1999–2007), and was named to Time magazine’s list of one hundred most influential people in the world for his relentless efforts to rid sport of performance-enhancing drugs.

He is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, was Chairman of the Olympic Games Study Commission, and was a director of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

A former Olympic swimmer, Pound attended both McGill University and Concordia University, and was Chancellor of McGill University from 1999-2009. He was admitted to the bar in Quebec in 1968, and in Ontario in 1980.

In addition to the above accomplishments, Pound sits on the Board of Directors of Canada’s History.



John George Lambtom Durham is born in London, England.


Durham is elected to the British House of Commons.


>Durham is raised to the British House of Lords.


Helps to draft the Representation of the People Act, otherwise known as the Reform Act, which dramatically affected the way seats were divided in the House of Commons, and increased the number of citizens who were entitled to vote.


After resigning from government, he is named ambassador to Russia and serves in the position for two years.


Durham accepts position of Governor General of Canada, and is given a specific mandate: to investigate and report on the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in 1837.


Durham resigned as Governor General only four months after accepting the position, but he carries out his assignment, and submits his now-famous report in early 1839. It is officially titled Report on the Affairs of British North America. The key recommendation is that colonies be governed by "responsible government."


Lord Durham dies in England of tuberculosis in July of this year.


The principles of responsible government are recognized by the British government. One year later, they are put into practice in Nova Scotia, which becomes the first colony to adopt responsible government.

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