A Progression of Judges: A History of the Supreme Court of British Columbia

By David R. Verchere | Go to book overview

ELEVEN
The First Quarter of the Twentieth Century

On 4 March 1902, Victoria lawyer Gordon Hunter, Q.C., was appointed to fill the vacancy on the court created by McColl's death. He was the fourth person to hold office as chief justice of British Columbia in the thirty-three years that had elapsed since Begbie's accession on 19 March 1870, and he would hold it for twenty-seven years. Although the length of his term in office would exceed that of all others, even that of Begbie, the brilliant promise of his youth was marred by his inability to control his taste for liquor; in fact, it is not too much to say that his contribution to the court was much diminished by it.

Born in Ontario in 1863 and educated in local schools, Hunter showed his academic ability when he took both the Lansdowne gold medal for general proficiency and the Lorne silver medal on his graduation from the University of Toronto in 1885. Attendance at Osgoode Hall and his call to the Ontario bar ensued, followed by three years in practice. In 1891, he decided to make his future in British Columbia. Following admission to practice there, he promptly took over the British Columbia Reports from Aemillus Irving, and through Premier Davie, he obtained an appointment as Crown solicitor to the province. He held that post until Davie went to the bench, when he formed an association with Lyman Poore Duff, a brilliant friend from university days who, at Hunter's urging, had also come to Victoria.

Hunter's law partnership with Duff lasted for only two years. Probably the success of both partners as counsel and the necessity to refuse work

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