“It is sort of like bringing him home,” said his wife, Jo-Anne. She and her daughter, Rachel, commissioned the portrait. It was painted by artist Gillian McCulloch of Antigonish.
Jo-Anne Embree added that she is amazed at how the artist, McCulloch, captured the Judge's personality even though she didn't know him. Rachel Embree said having her father's portrait hanging in the courtroom where he presided is an honour. “It is wonderful to know his portrait is here and he will always have a presence,” she said.
Judge Richard MacKinnon, a colleague and friend of Judge Embree, helped Gillan McCulloch with the actual unveiling. Speaking before the portrait was unveiled, Judge MacKinnon said the courtroom had become Judge Embree’s courtroom. “It is an amazing piece for an amazing man and professional,” he added.
Judge Patrick Curran, the former Chief Judge of the Provincial and Family Courts, described Judge Embree as a scholarly man. “John was what we call a student of the law," he added. "He was precise in everything that he did. There was never a question … everyone who came into his courtroom would be heard fully."
Judge Embree graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1977. The following year, he was called to the Bar in Newfoundland where he practiced as a crown prosecutor. He returned to Nova Scotia in 1983 and served with the Public Prosecution Service in the Appellate Division.
Judge Embree was appointed to the Provincial Court in Antigonish in August of 1991 and served there until he died in March of 2012.