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The Black Rod

The English Black Rod tradition

Early use of the Black Rod in 1348 suggests that it was first used to deny admission of unauthorized persons to various festivals and events at Windsor Castle. Later, its symbolism and history reflect an occurrence in the British House of Commons in 1642 when King Charles I stormed the Chamber to arrest five Members who opposed him but the Speaker of the day refused to turn them over.

Prince Edward Island's Black Rod traditionBlack Rod

On Prince Edward Island, the Sergeant-at-Arms carries the Black Rod when escorting the Lieutenant Governor into the Legislative Chamber at Province House during such occasions as the Speech from the Throne or the granting of Royal Assent. Practice in some Canadian jurisdictions have the Sergeant knocking on the doors of the Chamber with the Black Rod seeking permission for the Lieutenant Governor to enter. This symbolic act will be incorporated into the opening ceremony on Prince Edward Island and will serve to emphasize that the people, and their elected Assembly, are supreme and not the Crown. It is appropriate that we consider these matters at this particular opening given that it was almost 150 years ago that responsible government was implemented on Prince Edward Island in 1851.

It is unclear how long Prince Edward Island has used a Black Rod in its proceedings.

The symbolism of Prince Edward Island's Black Rod

The Black Rod being presented today is very unique to Prince Edward Island yet is styled more to that which exists in other parts of the world in use for hundreds of years. It is made of the Island's Official tree, that being the Island Red Oak. It has a gold band at the top representing the Lieutenant Governor of the Province, a silver band representing the Speaker, red, white and blue signifying the Clerk, Clerk Assistant and Sergeant-at-Arms, four white rings for the pages and large and small dark green rings representing the Province and the three counties respectively.

Two Island pennies have been mounted. These are the only Island coins ever minted for P.E.I. and show on the face "Victoria Queen 1871 and on the reverse the Provincial Oak trees. Below this are the 27 grooves representing the 27 electoral districts in Island rust representing our uniquely coloured soil.

Lloyd Kerry's Woodworking crafted the newly redesigned Black Rod with the assistance of Ivan Kerry, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly. Island historian Doug Morton presented as a gift the two 1871 coins mounted in the base of the Rod.

The Black Rod was presented in the Legislative Assembly on 23 November, 2000 for use on ceremonial occasions requiring the attendance of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor.

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