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

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

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.

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

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 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.