1810: Hansard Originates in Britain

William Cobbett introduced Britain's first record of parliamentary debates in 1810 but later sold his interest in the debates to the Hansard family, printers to the British House of Commons. Although the Hansard family only produced the record of debates from 1812 to 1888, the report retained the Hansard name by which it is known today.

1880: Hansard Comes to Canada

Canada adopted a Hansard in 1880 after nearly six decades fighting for a permanent, publicly-funded record of parliamentary debates. Some felt that the debates should be reported solely by the newspapers while others did not think that the debates should be recorded at all. Those who believed that debates were far too important not to be accurately and thoroughly recorded prevailed. The publication quickly earned a reputation for excellence. In fact, Canada's style of Hansard reporting was modelled in several other countries.

20th-Century Alberta

Alberta's First Legislature began in 1906. Historically there had been strict rules for the recording of legislative proceedings in Alberta. No one was allowed to record sound in the Chamber, and aside from reporters no one was permitted to take notes. Reporters were very protective of their right to report, and if a reporter spotted a visitor taking notes in the public gallery, a message would be sent to the commissionaire, who would ask the visitor to refrain from note-taking.

1937: Scrapbook Hansard in Alberta

Since newspapers provided the most comprehensive record of Alberta's legislative proceedings, Legislature Library staff established Scrapbook Hansard. Painstakingly maintained from 1937 until 1971, the scrapbook comprises newspaper stories and other resources covering the business of the Legislature dating back to 1906.

1965: Audio Recording in Alberta

In 1965 a recording system was installed in the Chamber of the Alberta Legislature, allowing for audiotapes to be used to transcribe the legislative proceedings. At first only special occasions such as the throne speech or the budget speeches were transcribed and printed, but soon Members began requesting transcripts of speeches made at other times during the proceedings. Before long it became customary to record and transcribe question period on a daily basis. At that point the office of the Clerk was responsible for providing this transcription service.

1971: The Need for Transcripts Grows in Alberta

By 1971 there were so many requests for transcripts that everything that was said in the Assembly was recorded just to keep ahead of the demand. It became clear that Alberta needed a complete parliamentary transcript. News reporters joined in the call for a comprehensive written record of legislative proceedings.

1972: Alberta Gets a Hansard

In 1972 Members from both sides of the Chamber supported the official adoption of a Hansard, and the Legislative Assembly of Alberta began publishing a complete record of legislative proceedings in a document called Alberta Hansard
Soon after that, both sound and television recording were allowed in the Chamber and all visitors to the gallery were permitted to take notes. These rules remain in effect today, and Alberta Hansard is readily available online, accompanied by the live streaming of all Assembly proceedings from gavel to gavel.