ACIS Logo Making Gaelic Canada’s 3rd Official Language: Gaelic Language Bill of 1890

This paper proposes to investigate the ultimately unsuccessful journey of the Gaelic Language Canada Bill of 1890 which was an attempt to make the Gaelic Language the 3rd official language of the dominion of Canada during a period of strong immigration from Gaelic speaking people from Ireland and Scotland. The Bill was put forward in the Canadian Senate as “An Act to Provide for the Use of Gaelic in Official Proceedings” by Senator Thomas Robert McInnes. While this paper will examine the legal content of the bill and analyse how it might have functioned if it had successfully passed the primary focus of the paper will be to look at the legal and historical linguistic context in which the bill arose and the role played by the proposer of the bill. Some of the more curios aspects of the bill such as the lack of differentiation between Scottish and Irish Gaelic warrant particularly attention.

It is not intended that this paper will be a blackletter legal paper but rather a paper of more general interest with a legal focus.