Encyclopedia

Judges of the Supreme Court

Below you will find a listing of all judges of the Supreme Court of Canada from its founding in 1875 to the present day. It is organised by the tenure of each Chief Justice. Each main heading has the name of the Chief Justice, the years that that person served as Chief Justice, the province of origin, and what post he or she formerly held.

All the other judges who served during the period of each Chief Justiceship are listed below the name of the Chief Justice. The same basic information supplied for the Chief Justices is also given for each puisne judges.  Note that from 1875 until 1927 the Supreme Court of Canada had 6 judges. It was expanded to 7 in 1927, and to 9 in 1949.

Further information on many of the judges can be found in the following five sources:

1) Dictionary of Canadian Biography – online at biographi.  This will only include judges who died before 1940. More will be added as the DCB covers more years towards the present.

2) James Snell and Frederick Vaughan, The Supreme Court of Canada: History of the Institution (Osgoode Society, 1985)

3) Ian Buhnell, The Captive Court: A Study of the Supreme Court of Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1992)

4) The Supreme Court of Canada and its Justices 1875-2000, (Toronto: Dundurn Group and the Supreme Court of Canada in Cooperation with Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2000);

5) C. Troulis, ‘Biographies of the Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, 1875-1985,’ in G.-A. Beaudoin, ed., The Supreme Court of Canada: Proceedings of the October 1985 Conference (Cowansville, Que.: Éditions Y. Blais, 1986), pp. 389-416.

In addition to these general sources, the entry for many of the judges contains additional references specific to that judge.

  • Chief Justice 1875-1879 – Sir William Buell Richards – Ontario – Formerly Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for Canada West
    • ‘Sir William Buell Richards,’ Canada Law Journal, vol. 25, 1889, pp. 194-196
    • R. Cassels, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada,’ Green Bag, vol. 2, no. 6, 1890, pp. 241-256
    • R. Disottel, ‘First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,’ The Recorder & Times, 27 June 1988, p. S16
  • William Johnstone Ritchie. Appointed 1875. New Brunswick. Formerly Chief Justice of New Brunswick
    • ‘Judicial Appointments to the Supreme Court,’ Canada Law Journal, vol. 11, 1875, pp. 265-266
    • G. Bale, Chief Justice Sir William Johnstone Ritchie: Responsible Government and Judicial Review (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1991)
    • R. Cassels, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada,’ Green Bag, vol. 2, no. 6, 1890, pp. 241-256
    • G. R.W. Lahey, Learning Federalism: The Experience of New Brunswick’s 19th Century Judges (University of Toronto: LLM Thesis, 2001)
    • 1985); C. St. C. Stayner, ‘John William Ritchie: One of the Fathers of Confederation,’ Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, vol. 36, 1968, pp. 180-277
  • Sir Samuel Henry Strong. Appointed 1875. Ontario. Formerly Judge of the Court of Error and Appeal of Ontario
    • ‘The Honourable Sir Samuel Henry Strong’, Canadian Green Bag (Montreal), vol. 1, no. 1, 1895, p. 1
    • ‘The Right Hon. Sir Samuel Henry Strong’, Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation, vol. 1, no. 3, December 1899, p. 341
    • ‘Judicial Appointments to the Supreme Court,’ Canada Law Journal, vol. 11, 1875, pp. 265-266
    • M. Bader and E. Burstein, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada 1892-1902: A Study of the Men and the Times,’ Osgoode Hall Law Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, 1970, pp. 503-548
    • R. Cassels, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada,’ Green Bag, vol. 2, no. 6, 1890, pp. 241-256
  • Jean-Thomas Taschereau. Appointed 1875. Quebec. Formerly Judge of Court of Queen’s Bench of Quebec. Replaced by Henri-Elzéar Taschereau in 1878
    • ‘Sir William Buell Richards,’ Canada Law Journal, vol. 25, 1889, pp. 194-196
    • R. Cassels, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada,’ Green Bag, vol. 2, no. 6, 1890, pp. 241-256
    • R. Disottel, ‘First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,’ The Recorder & Times, 27 June 1988, p. S16
  • Télesphore Fournier. Appointed 1875. Quebec. Formerly Minister of Justice
    • M. Bader and E. Burstein, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada 1892-1902: A Study of the Men and the Times,’ Osgoode Hall Law Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, 1970, pp. 503-548
    • R. Cassels, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada,’ Green Bag, vol. 2, no. 6, 1890, pp. 241-256
    • T. Rinfret, ‘Le Juge Fournier,’ Canadian Bar Review, vol. 3, no. 6, 1925, pp. 298-307
    • T. Rinfret, ‘Le Juge Télesphore Fournier,’ Revue Trimestrielle Canadienne, vol. 12, March 1926, pp. 1-16
  • William Alexander Henry. Appointed 1875. Nova Scotia. Formerly lawyer in practice
    • P.R. Blakeley, ‘William Alexander Henry,’ Collection of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, vol. 36, 1968, pp. 97-140
    • R. Cassels, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada,’ Green Bag, vol. 2, no. 6, 1890, pp. 241-256
    • G. Patterson, ‘Hon. William A. Henry. First Judge from Nova Scotia on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Canada,’ Canadian Bar Review, vol. 18, December 1940, pp. 762-775
  • Sir Henri-Elzéar Taschereau. Appointed 1878, replacing Jean-Thomas Taschereau. Quebec. Formerly Judge of the Superior Court of Quebec
    • P.R. Blakeley, ‘William Alexander Henry,’ Collection of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, vol. 36, 1968, pp. 97-140
    • R. Cassels, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada,’ Green Bag, vol. 2, no. 6, 1890, pp. 241-256
    • G. Patterson, ‘Hon. William A. Henry. First Judge from Nova Scotia on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Canada,’ Canadian Bar Review, vol. 18, December 1940, pp. 762-775
  • Chief Justice 1879-1892 – William Johnston Ritchie – see above
  • Samuel Henry Strong – see above
  • Télesphore Fournier – see above
  • William Alexander Henry – see above. Replaced by Patterson in 1888
  • Sir Henri-Elzéar Taschereau – see above
  • John Wellington Gwynne. Appointed 1879, replacing Richards. Ontario. Formerly Judge of the Court of Error and Appeal of Ontario
    • ‘The Late Mr. Justice Gwynne,’ Canadian Law Review, vol. 1, no. 5, 1902, p. 262
    • M. Bader and E. Burstein, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada 1892-1902: A Study of the Men and the Times,’ Osgoode Hall Law Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, 1970, pp. 503-548
    • G.M. Rae, ‘Some Constitutional Opinions of the Late Mr. Justice Gwynne,’ Canadian Law Times, vol. 24, no. 1, 1904, pp. 1-16
    • P. Romney, ‘From Railway Construction to Constitutional Construction: John Wellington Gwynne’s Dream,’ Manitoba Law Journal, vol. 20, 1990, pp. 91-106
  • Christopher Salmon Patterson. Appointed 1888, replacing Henry. Ontario. Formerly Judge of the Court of Error and Appeal of Ontario
    • ‘The Late Mr. Justice Gwynne,’ Canadian Law Review, vol. 1, no. 5, 1902, p. 262
    • M. Bader and E. Burstein, ‘The Supreme Court of Canada 1892-1902: A Study of the Men and the Times,’ Osgoode Hall Law Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, 1970, pp. 503-548
    • G.M. Rae, ‘Some Constitutional Opinions of the Late Mr. Justice Gwynne,’ Canadian Law Times, vol. 24, no. 1, 1904, pp. 1-16
    • P. Romney, ‘From Railway Construction to Constitutional Construction: John Wellington Gwynne’s Dream,’ Manitoba Law Journal, vol. 20, 1990, pp. 91-106