William Alexander Henry (1816-1888), a Father of Confederation, was the last of the original six justices appointed on Sept. 30, 1875. Born in Halifax and raised in Antigonish, NS, Henry passed the Nova Scotia bar in 1840 and served in the General Assembly of Nova Scotia from 1840 to 1843 and from 1847 to 1867, during which time he served as a delegate to all three constitutional conferences. He was later Mayor of Halifax from 1870 to 1871. As a judge, Henry was generally well regarded, although justices Strong and Gwynne openly complained that his written decisions were terribly composed. Henry died on the bench on May 3, 1888.
Christopher Salmon Patterson (1823–1893) was appointed to replace Henry on Oct. 27, 1888. Born in London, England, Patterson went to Ireland to study at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution before emigrating to Picton, ON, in 1845. He was called to the bar in 1851 and moved to Toronto in 1856 to practise law. In 1874, he appointed to the Ontario Court of Error and Appeal, serving until 1888. Patterson died in office on July 24, 1893. Patterson Township, in Parry Sound District, ON, is named in his honour.
George Edwin King (1839–1901) was appointed to the Court by Sir John Thompson on Sept. 21, 1893. King was born in Saint John, NB, to a family of wealthy shipbuilders. He earned a BA and an MA from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, was called to the bar in 1865, and set up practice in Saint John.
King served as a Liberal-Conservative MLA for Saint John County and City in the New Brunswick legislature from 1867 to 1878 and was Attorney-General of New Brunswick from 1870 to 1878 and Premier from 1870 to 1871 and from 1872 to 1878. As premier, King passed a new Municipalities Act, abolished debtors’ prisons and property restrictions on voting, extended women’s’ property rights, and established a universal public schools system, which was hotly contested by the province’s Catholics all the way to the Imperial Privy Council in the 1874 case of Maher v. Town Council of Portland, which King won. King was also a supporter of women’s’ suffrage, but was unable to give women the right to vote in his time in office.
In 1880 King became a justice on the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick, sitting until he became a justice on the Supreme Court, where he stayed until his death on May 7, 1901.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Louis Henry Davies PC KCMG (1845-1924), to date the only Prince Edward Islander to serve on the Supreme Court, was appointed on Sept. 25, 1901. Born in Charlottetown, Louis Davies went to England to study law at the Inner Temple, passed the bar in 1866, returned to PEI, and sat as a Liberal in the provincial General Assembly from 1872 to 1879, where he was the chief architect of the Land Purchase Act of 1875, under which the absentee landlords which had owned much of the land in PEI were bought out by the government. Davies also served as Premier and Attorney-General of Prince Edward Island from 1876 to 1879, during which time he reformed the civil service and founded the PEI public schools system. He was later a Liberal MP for Queen’s County, PEI, from 1882 to 1901, and was Minister of the Marine and Fisheries under Laurier from 1896 to 1901.
Sir Louis became Chief Justice on Nov. 23, 1918. The signature case of his chief justiceship was Bedard v. Dawson of 1923, which found that, although criminal law is exclusively the domain of the federal sphere, the provinces have the power to make laws to prevent crime. Sir Louis died in office on May 1, 1924.
Edmund Leslie Newcombe (1859-1931) filled the vacant spot on Sept. 16, 1924. Born in Cornwallis, NS, Newcombe graduated from Dalhousie law school, passed the bar in 1882, and practised law in Halifax and Kentville, specializing in maritime insurance law. Newcombe then moved to Ottawa and served as the federal Deputy Minister of Justice from 1893 to 1924. Newcombe died in office on Dec. 9, 1931.
Oswald Smith Crocket (1868-1945) was appointed to the Supreme Court on Sept. 21, 1932. Born in Chatham, NB, Crocket went to UNB and passed the bar in 1892. He was the Conservative MP for York County, NB, from 1904 to 1913, and was then a judge of the Court of King’s Bench Division of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick from 1913 to 1932. Crocket retired on Apr. 13, 1943, and lived another 23 months.
Ivan Cleveland Rand CC (1884-1969) was appointed to replace Crocket on Apr. 22, 1943. Born in Moncton, Rand went to Mount Allison University and Harvard Law School and passed the New Brunswick bar in 1912, then moved to Medicine Hat, AB, where he practiced law for eight years before returning to Moncton in 1920 to take a job as counsel to the Canadian National Railways. He served briefly as Attorney-General of New Brunswick from 1924 to 1925, and sat in the Legislative Assembly for Gloucester County from February to June of 1925.
Rand’s most significant legal contribution in Canada came when he arbitrated a Ford plant strike in Windsor in 1945. Rand decided that all employees benefitting from a collective agreement made by a union should pay union dues, even if they aren’t members, a concept now known as the Rand formula. Rand was also pro-Zionist, and Canada’s representative on the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947.
Ivan Rand retired from the bench on Apr. 27, 1959. He was dean of law at the University of Western Ontario from 1959 to 1964 and presided over a Royal Commission in 1966 concerning judge Leo Landreville’s insider trading of stock in Northern Ontario Natural Gas. Rand died in 1969.
Roland Almon Ritchie CC (1910-1988) was placed on the Court by John Diefenbaker on May 5, 1959. Ritchie was born in Halifax, the scion of the powerful Ritchie, Almon, and Stewart families. His brother Charles was one of Canada’s top diplomats, and the long-time secret lover of the Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen.
Roland Ritchie attended the University of King’ College, Halifax, and earned an BA from Oxford before passing the Nova Scotia bar in 1934. He practiced law in Halifax, lectured in insurance law at Dalhousie, and served as an Assistant Deputy Judge Advocate in the 3rd Division in WWII. Ritchie retired from the Supreme Court on Oct. 31, 1984, and served as Chancellor of the University of King’s College from 1974 to his death in 1988.
Gérard Vincent La Forest CC FRSC (1926-now) was appointed to the Court by Mulroney on Jan. 16, 1985. Born in Grand Falls, NB, La Forest went to St. Francis Xavier University and UNB, passed the bar in 949, then studied law at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship and earned a doctorate in law from Yale. From 1952 to 1955 he worked in the federal Department of Justice, then taught at UNB, was Dean of Law at the University of Alberta from 1968 to 1970, Assistant Deputy Attorney General of Canada for Research & Planning from 1970 to 1974, a member of the Law Reform Commission of Canada from 1974 to 1979, taught law at the University of Ottawa from 1979 to 1981, and a judge of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal from 1981 to 1985.
La Forest retired from the Supreme Court on Sept. 30, 1997. He now practices law in Fredericton.
J. E. Michel Bastarache CC (1947-now) was appointed as the first Acadian justice of the Supreme Court on Sept. 30, 1997. Born in Quebec City, Bastarache earned a BA from the Université de Moncton, a law degree from the University of Nice in France and a BCL from the University of Ottawa.
In the 1970s, Bastarache was a legal translator for the Province of New Brunswick, the General Secretary for the Société des Acadiens et Acadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick, and held a number of important jobs in the Assumption Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1978, he joined the Université de Moncton as a professor, was admitted to the Bar of New Brunswick in 1980, and was Dean of Law at UMoncton from 1980 to 1983. From 1983 to 1984, he was the Director General for the Promotion of Official Languages in the Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, and from 1984 to 1987, he was the Associate Dean of the Common Law section of the University of Ottawa. Then he turned to private practice before becoming CEO of Assumption Mutual from 1989 to 1994, then was a lawyer in Moncton until he was appointed to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in 1995. Bastarache retired on June 30, 2008, and now practices law in Ottawa.
Thomas Albert Cromwell (1952-now) was appointed to the Court by Harper on Dec. 22, 2008. Cromwell was born in Kingston, ON, and got degrees in music and law from Queen’s. He earned a piano diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and a BCL from Oxford. He was a professor of law at Dalhousie from 1982 to 1992 and 1995 to 1997, the executive legal officer to Chief Justice Lamer from 1992 to 1995, and a judge of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal from 1997 to 2008.