Henry Robert Emmerson
H. R. Emerson, Premier of New Brunswick
9th Premier of New Brunswick
In office
October 29, 1897 – August 31, 1900
Lieutenant GovernorAbner Reid McClelan
Preceded byJames Mitchell
Succeeded byLemuel J. Tweedie
MLA for Albert
In office
September 28, 1888 – January 20, 1890
Serving with Gaius S. Turner
Preceded byW.J. Lewis
Succeeded byW.J. Lewis
In office
October 22, 1892 – August 31, 1900
Preceded byGaius S. Turner
Succeeded bySanford S. Ryan
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Westmorland
In office
November 7, 1900 – July 9, 1914
Preceded byHenry Absalom Powell
Succeeded byArthur Bliss Copp
Personal details
Born(1853-09-25)September 25, 1853
Maugerville, New Brunswick, Canada
DiedJuly 9, 1914(1914-07-09) (aged 60)
Dorchester, New Brunswick, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Emily Charlotte Record
(m. 1878; died 1901)
ChildrenEthel Record Deacon, Henry Read Emmerson, Emily Keillor Cornell, Bernice Seaman McQueen, Marion Bennett Bowes
Alma materSt. Joseph's College
Acadia College
Boston University
OccupationLawyer, businessman and philanthropist

Henry Robert Emmerson, PC (September 25, 1853 – July 9, 1914) was a New Brunswick lawyer, businessman, politician, and philanthropist.

Henry Emmerson was educated at Amherst Academy, Mount Allison Academy, St. Joseph's College, Acadia College and earned a law degree from Boston University. He went on to a lucrative law practice and was heavily involved in business. He was involved in woollen manufacturing, was a director of the Maritime Baptist Publishing Company Limited, president of the New Brunswick Petroleum Company Limited, the Acadia Coal and Coke Company, and the Sterling Coal Company, as well as a director of the Record Foundry and Machine Company.

He attempted to win a seat in the House of Commons of Canada in 1887 but was unsuccessful. The next year he was elected to the provincial legislature then after the win was contested by his opponent and a new election contest ordered in 1889, Emmerson won the seat. In 1891 he was appointed to the Legislative Council of the province and oversaw its abolition. He re-entered the House of Assembly and in October 1892 was appointed to the Executive Council, serving as Chief Commissioner of Public Works in the Liberal government of Premier Andrew George Blair.

As commissioner, Emmerson stopped the practice of building bridges out of wood and opted for more permanent, and more expensive, materials thus driving up the province's public debt. He also supported women's suffrage.

Emmerson became Premier in 1897. During his tenure, he briefly held the position of Attorney-General. His government tried to promote tourism and wheat farming and the development of natural gas and petroleum in the province. In 1899, he introduced legislation to grant women the right to vote but in a free vote, the bill was defeated.

Emmerson left provincial politics in 1900 to become a Liberal MP in the House of Commons of Canada. From 1904 to 1907 he was Minister of Railways and Canals in the federal cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Portrait from March 1912
Portrait from March 1912

Although he was regarded as brilliant, capable, and personable, his alcoholism and reputation as a womanizer hampered his career. In 1906, an exasperated Laurier had Emmerson sign a pledge that he would "never . . . again taste wine, beer or any other mixed or intoxicating liquor" and that he would provide the prime minister with an undated and signed letter of resignation to be used should he fail in his promise. The letter of resignation was invoked in 1907 after The Daily Gleaner newspaper reported that Emmerson was thrown out of a Montreal hotel with "two women of ill repute". He denied the allegations but on April 1 submitted his resignation from Cabinet, which Laurier accepted. Emmerson filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the Daily Gleaner for defamation and libel.

Henry Emerson remained a member of parliament for another seven years until his death in 1914.[1] In his later years, Emmerson donated the money to build a new library, named Emmerson Hall, at Acadia University in honour of his father, the Rev. Robert Henry Emmerson.[2][3]

His son, Henry Read Emmerson, was also elected to the Canadian House of Commons and was appointed to the Senate of Canada. His great great grandson was Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden.[4] His great great great grandson is professional ice hockey player Noah Dobson.

Electoral record

1891 Canadian federal election: Westmoreland
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Conservative Josiah Wood 4,205 67.2 +12.7
  Liberal William F. George 2,057 32.8 -12.7
1891 Canadian federal election: Albert
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Richard C. Weldon 1,096 51.8 -1.3
Liberal Henry Emmerson 1,020 48.2 +1.3
1900 Canadian federal election: Westmoreland
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Liberal Henry Emmerson 4,420 52.9 +3.0
  Conservative Henry A. Powell 3,934 47.1 -3.0

By-election: on Mr. Emmerson being appointed Minister of Railways and Canals:

By-election on 30 January 1904
Party Candidate Votes
  Liberal Henry Emmerson acclaimed
1904 Canadian federal election: Westmoreland
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Liberal Henry Emmerson 4,693 55.6 +2.7
  Conservative Henry A. Powell 3,747 44.4 -2.7
1908 Canadian federal election: Westmoreland
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Liberal Henry Emmerson 5,047 58.0 +2.4
  Conservative Frederick William Sumner 3,662 42.0 -2.4
1911 Canadian federal election: Westmoreland
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Liberal Henry Emmerson 4,452 50.4 -7.6
  Unknown Medley Godfrey Siddall 4,388 49.6 +7.6


  1. ^ "H. R. Emmerson, Once Minister of Railways, Is Dead At Home". The Ottawa Journal. 9 Jul 1914. p. 1. Retrieved 24 December 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Douglas How, "One Village, One War, 1914-45", Lancelot Press, 1995: Emerson, "...the son of a Baptist divine . . . eventually ran into trouble as a Laurier cabinet minister . . . because he wasn't as divine as he should be." (p. 95)
  3. ^ "Rocks and Building Stones of Acadia University - Earth and Environmental Science". ees.acadiau.ca. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  4. ^ https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVBF-Z1J1[bare URL]