Shopping Cart

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History

Contact Us Membership



Chief Justice W.R. Jackett: By the Law of the Land

by Richard W. Pound. Published with McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999.

Select Version

When Richard Pound told us he was working on a biography of Wilbur Jackett, former Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada, and asked us to consider publication, we were pleased and somewhat sceptical. We had recently published Ian Bushnell's history of the Federal Court of Canada and Wilbur Jackett's attitude towards that enterprise seemed to us to have been a combination of scepticism and disapproval. Chief Justice Jackett, it appeared, was of the old school and believed the judiciary should be, rather like the British Navy in days of yore, "the silent service." In the circumstances we wondered whether it would be possible to produce a full and accurate biography.The author has proved us wrong. In this study he paints a portrait of a lawyer who had enormous influence - much of it behind the scenes - on the administration of justice in Canada. Deputy Minister of Justice. General Counsel for C.P.R. President of the Exchequer Court of Canada. Scene-setter for the Canadian Judicial Council. Father of and midwife to the new Federal Court of Canada. Leader extraordinaire of that Court during its formative years. Rigorous legal thinker and judge. Procedural innovator, yet largely unknown outside of a small circle of friends and colleagues. This biography traces the path of Jackett through a significant period in Canadian legal history and provides unique glimpses of the Department of Justice and the courts in action. We believe it will be read and appreciated by a wide audience and deserve to occupy an enduring place in Canadian judicial biography.


Richard Pound’s biography of Chief Justice Jackett is an insightful and articulate look at the life of one of Canada’s leading 20th century jurists...the biography is a tour de force of meticulous research, a must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of the Canadian judicial system. Laurent William Bartleman, Saskatchewan Law Review, Vol 64, 2001, p. 303.

Reviews of Chief Justice W.R. Jackett: By The Law Of The Land have also appeared in the following publications:

Lise I. Beaudoin, Le Journal du Barreau, Vol 32, 2000, p. 29.

Michael J. O’Keefe, The Advocate (Vancouver Bar Association), Vol 58, 2000, p. 943.

Christopher English, Canadian Book Review Annual, 1999, p.79.

Ian McGillis, The Gazette (Montreal), 18 December 1999, p. I1/I5.



1 Beginnings 3
2 Oxford Years 26
3 The Saskatchewan Triumvirate 47
4 Life in the Department 60
5 Deputy Minister 88
6 Interlude: The CPR Years 130
7 The Exchequer Court of Canada 145
8 Extracurricular Activities: The Canadian Judicial Council
and the Federal Court of Canada 197
9 The Jackett Court 226
10 Retirement 277

1 Extracts from Chief Justice Laskin's Judgment in the
Capricorn Case 291
2 Department of Justice Lawyers, 1938-65 296
3 Minister of Justice and Deputy Ministers of Justice 301
4 Interviewees and Correspondents 304


Osgoode Society
Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N6, Canada

Osgoode Logo

T: + 416.947.3321
F: + 416.947.3447