View the Chief Justices Digital Book

Chief Justices


Twenty-one chief justices have presided over the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in the 250 years since English lawyer Jonathan Belcher arrived in Halifax to found the court in October 1754. The longest serving chief justice, Sampson Salter Blowers, was in office for a remarkable 35 years, from 1797 until he retired in 1832 at age 90. Lauchlin Daniel Currie, in contrast, served barely 13 months before retiring in 1968. Two of their number – Charles Morris and Isaac Deschamps – had no legal training and held office on an interim basis during the court’s formative years. While the rest were lawyers, and most made their mark in politics, they came from varying backgrounds – one worked as a coal miner and bricklayer, one served in the military, one was Halifax’s mayor and another its city manager. A couple of chief justices turned their hand to writing, chronicling the court’s history and the careers of their predecessors. Our current chief justice, Constance R. Glube – the only woman to hold the post – will retire at the end of 2004, making way for her successor as Nova Scotia’s twenty-second chief justice.

Jonathan BelcherJonathan Belcher 1754-1776

First Chief Justice

After Halifax was founded in 1749, Nova Scotia’s fledgling justice system was in the hands of magistrates and members of the governor’s council – none of them legally trained. Demands for a trained law officer were answered in 1754, when British officials dispatched Jonathan Belcher to the colony as chief justice of a newly created Supreme Court. Born in Boston on July 23, 1710, Belcher was the son of a New England governor and well educated, with degrees from Harvard College and Cambridge University. He studied law in London, was admitted to the English bar in 1734, practiced law in Dublin and published a compilation of Irish law.

Installed as chief justice in October 1754 in an elaborate ceremony in Halifax, Belcher applied English laws and precedents to offset the influence of the Massachusetts laws previously favoured within the colony. Belcher drafted many of Nova Scotia’s earliest statutes and laid the legal foundations for Canada’s first elected legislature, which convened in 1758. He assumed the governor’s duties upon the death of Charles Lawrence in 1760, but political inexperience and clashes with Halifax’s merchants ensured he was the only chief justice to govern Nova Scotia. His legal opinion supporting the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755 and his attempt to deport a group of Acadian prisoners amid fears of a French attack in 1762 further tarnished his reputation. Belcher sought permission to resign in 1776 due to declining health and died March 30, 1776 in Halifax.

For more information on Jonathan Belcher, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Charles Morris 1776-1778

Second Chief Justice

Born June 8, 1711 in Boston, Charles Morris first came to Nova Scotia as an officer in New England regiments sent to bolster the British garrison at Annapolis Royal. His skill at cataloguing the areas he visited led to his appointment as Nova Scotia’s first surveyor. Morris laid out the street plans for Halifax and Lunenburg and surveyed outlying townships as far north as New Brunswick as the colony grew in the 1760s.

Although he lacked formal legal training, Morris was made a justice of Halifax’s inferior court of common pleas in 1752. In 1763 he was one of two assistant judges appointed to the Supreme Court to assist the chief justice, Jonathan Belcher. When Belcher died in March 1776, Morris, as the senior assistant judge, was tapped to fill in as chief justice until a replacement was found. As chief justice Morris heard a number of major cases, including charges of treason against rebel soldiers who besieged Fort Cumberland, near Amherst, in 1776, in a failed effort to import the American Revolution to Nova Scotia. He reverted to his assistant judge’s post in May 1778 when Bryan Finucane – who had been appointed chief justice at the end of 1776 – finally took office. Morris died in Windsor, N.S. on Nov. 4, 1781.

For more information on Charles Morris, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Bryan Finucane 1778-1785

Third Chief Justice

Bryan Finucane was born in County Clare – the only Irish-born chief justice of Nova Scotia – sometime before 1744. He studied law at London’s Middle Temple, was admitted the Irish bar in 1764 and practiced in Dublin for several years. Finucane was appointed chief justice in December 1776 but did not arrive in Halifax until April 1778. He was sworn into office on May 1, 1778.

Finucane balked at traveling on circuit and tried, unsuccessfully, to reduce the length of sittings in Halifax. He was granted a leave absence to travel to England, where he spent most of 1782-1783. Upon his return he was sent to New Brunswick to help settle the claims of Loyalist refugees. Considered a man of great integrity and an “upright judge,” Finucane died in Halifax on August 3, 1785 after “a painful and tedious illness.” He is buried at St. Paul’s Church in Halifax.

For more information on Bryan Finucane, see Barry Cahill, “The Career of Chief Justice Bryan Finucane,” Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, vol. 42 (1986), pp. 153-69.

Isaac Deschamps 1785-1788

Fourth Chief Justice

Isaac Deschamps is believed to have been born in Switzerland in 1722 and came to Halifax in 1749, the year the city was founded. Fluent in French and English, he was a natural choice as an agent for merchants trading with the Acadians and Mi’kmaq and was often called upon to translate official documents. Between 1759 and 1783 he served as MLA for a succession of ridings – Annapolis County, Falmouth Township and Newport Township.

In 1761 he was appointed justice of the inferior court of common pleas and judge of probate for King’s County. He served as a judge of the inferior court of Prince Edward Island in 1768, but the appointment was cut short when the island became a separate colony in 1769. He was named an assistant judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in 1770. Deschamps had no legal training and in 1787 some politicians and lawyers, including Loyalists who coveted judgeships for themselves, accused Deschamps and assistant judge James Brenton of incompetence and bias. The controversy over the “Judges’ Affair” continued even after English lawyer Jeremy Pemberton replaced Deschamps as chief justice in 1788. The legislature voted to impeach Deschamps and Brenton in 1790 but the British authorities ultimately exonerated both judges. Deschamps continued to serve as a judge until his death at Windsor, N.S., on August 11, 1801.

For more information on Isaac Deschamps, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Jeremy PembertonJeremy Pemberton 1788-89

Fifth Chief Justice

Jeremy Pemberton was the youngest chief justice of the Supreme Court, taking office at age 33. Born in Cambridgeshire, England in 1741, he was the grandson of Sir Francis Pemberton, a lord chief justice of England. He attended Lincoln’s Inn and was admitted to law practice in 1762.

In 1785 he was appointed to investigate claims of Loyalists in the British North American colonies. He was named chief justice in August 1788 in the midst of the “Judges’ Affair,” as Loyalist newcomers agitated to impeach the Supreme Court’s two assistant judges – neither of them legally trained – on allegations of incompetence and bias. While Pemberton provided the legal expertise the court needed, he did not stay long enough to stabilize the court. He resigned in October 1789 and returned to England, where he died on July 14, 1790.

For more information, see Sir Joseph A. Chisholm, “Three Chief Justices of Nova Scotia,” Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, vol. 28 (1949), pp. 148-58.

Sir Thomas A. L. StrangeSir Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange 1789-1797

Sixth Chief Justice

Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange had been practicing law in England for just four years when he was named chief justice in 1789 and sent to Nova Scotia to rescue the court from the taint of the “Judges’ Affair.” Born in England on November 30, 1756, Strange obtained degrees from an Oxford college and trained at Lincoln’s Inn before being admitted to the bar in 1785. He had a reputation as “a most excellent theoretical lawyer.”

Strange managed to mollify those seeking to impeach assistant judges Isaac Deschamps and James Brenton, whom he considered “very amiable, deserving persons and of great assistance” to him. Governor John Wentworth praised Strange as “indefatigable in his duty” and said losing him would be “the greatest misfortune” to Nova Scotia. But Strange was soon ready to move on and, as early as 1794, was lobbying for the chief justiceship of Upper Canada. He returned to England in 1796 and resigned the following year. He became chief justice of the supreme court in Madras (India) in 1800 and wrote a two-volume text on Hindu law. He died July 16, 1841 in England.

For more information on Sir Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Sampson Salter BlowersSampson Salter Blowers 1797-1832

Seventh Chief Justice

One of Sampson Salter Blowers’ first cases was helping to defend British Redcoats accused of murder in 1770 for firing into crowds in the infamous Boston Massacre. Not surprisingly, the Harvard-educated lawyer was among the Loyalists forced to flee to Nova Scotia after the American Revolution. Born in Boston on March 10, 1741 (possibly 1742), Blowers was called to the bar in Massachusetts in 1766. Imprisoned briefly by the American authorities, Blowers was an admiralty judge in British-occupied Newport, R.I. and later New York’s solicitor general.

He arrived in Halifax in 1783, carved out a busy law practice and was named the province’s attorney general a year later. He was elected as an MLA for Halifax County in 1785 and selected as speaker of the House of Assembly. Blowers backed the Supreme Court’s beleaguered assistant judges Isaac Deschamps and James Brenton in the “Judges’ Affair” and joined them on the bench in September 1797, when he was appointed chief justice. One contemporary considered him “truly eminent for a high standard of legal knowledge, logical skill, and power of argument.” Even though advancing age curtailed his ability to conduct trials, Blowers clung to office but was finally forced to resign in late 1832. He died on October 25, 1842 in Halifax, seven months after his 100 th birthday, after breaking his hip in a fall.

For more information on Sampson Salter Blowers, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Sir Brenton HalliburtonSir Brenton Halliburton 1833-1860

Eighth Chief Justice

Brenton Halliburton is the only chief justice who commanded a fortress as well as the Supreme Court. Born December 27, 1774, in Newport, R.I., he came to Halifax in 1782 when his father, a doctor in the Royal Navy, joined the Loyalist exodus. Halliburton was educated in London but returned to Nova Scotia and joined the army when war broke out with France in 1793. He was put in command of York Redoubt, a fortress that guarded the entrance to Halifax Harbour.

Halliburton, who had begun studying law before the war began, resumed his legal career and was admitted to the bar in 1803. When his uncle, James Brenton, died in January 1807, Halliburton took his place as an assistant judge of the Supreme Court – becoming the first assistant judge with legal training. The governor of the day, Lord Dalhousie, regarded Halliburton as “a loyal subject and a morally good man.” Halifax lawyer Peter Lynch would later observe that Halliburton’s legal knowledge “was not very extensive, but like his wine it was of the best quality.”

Halliburton would later claim he shouldered the chief justice’s duties for the last decade of

Sampson Salter Blowers’ long tenure. When the aging Blowers was finally forced to retire, Halliburton succeed him in 1833. He presided over Joseph Howe’s libel trial in 1835 and was the last chief justice to sit as a member of the council that governed the province. He died in office on July 16, 1860, at age 85.

For more information on Sir Brenton Halliburton, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Sir William YoungSir William Young 1860-1881

Ninth Chief Justice

Born in Falkirk, Scotland, on September 8, 1799, William Young claimed to have completed a degree from the University of Glasgow by age 14, when he came to Halifax with his family. His father was John Young, a merchant and politician who wrote the “Letters of Agricola,” a popular newspaper series promoting agriculture. After working as a trading agent for his father, William Young was called to the bar in 1825. In the courtroom, he was described as “an excellent tactician (who) pressed himself strongly on courts and juries.”

Young followed his father into provincial politics, winning the Cape Breton riding of Inverness in 1836. He became speaker of the House of Assembly and was allied with Joseph Howe and other reformers in the drive for Responsible Government in the 1840s. Young served as attorney general from 1854-1857 and became premier in February 1860. Young had long coveted the chief justiceship and, after Brenton Haliburton’s death later that year, he outraged his political rivals by naming himself to the post.

His judicial rulings were considered “showy rather than substantial.” Short of stature – he bore the nickname “Little Billy” all his life – Young reputedly padded his courtroom chair with cushions to ensure he sat no lower than his fellow judges. Young was a generous benefactor of Dalhousie University and the City of Halifax – he convinced the British government to lease Point Pleasant Park to the city and donated the gates that adorn the park’s entrance. Young retired in 1881 and died on May 8, 1887.

For more information on Sir William Young, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

James McDonaldJames McDonald 1881-1905

Tenth Chief Justice

Born in Bridgeville, N.S., on July 1, 1828 and a descendant of Pictou County’s Scottish settlers, James McDonald taught school for a couple of years before studying law with a local legal and political luminary, Martin I. Wilkins. Called to the bar in 1851, McDonald practised law in Pictou and had a commanding presence in the courtroom, arguing cases “with considerable skill and fluency.” Elected MLA in 1859, he was appointed chief railway commissioner in the Tory government and fought to have a branch line built to his rapidly industrializing Pictou county riding. McDonald supported Confederation and was elected as a Conservative MP for Pictou County in 1872 and 1878.

He became federal minister of justice in 1878 and held the post until he was named chief justice in May 1881 – a rare case of a lawyer being appointed directly to the chief justice’s post. Just 52, he injected “energy, affability and courtesy” into an aging bench in need of leadership and fresh blood. McDonald declined the knighthood that, by tradition, came with the position. While known for not keeping abreast of changes to the law, he often championed the underdog and “would strain the law to the breaking-point to save someone.” Fluent in Gaelic, he once presided over a trial at Baddeck in which he and everyone else involved – lawyers, witnesses and jurors – used only that language. McDonald retired in 1904 and died Oct. 3, 1912, at Blinkbonnie, his Halifax estate.

For more information on James McDonald, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Sir Robert L WeatherbeSir Robert Linton Weatherbe 1905-1907

Eleventh Chief Justice

Born in Bedeque, P.E.I. on April 7, 1836, Robert Linton Weatherbe was the son of a merchant and shipowner. He received a master of arts degree from Acadia College in 1861 and was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar two years later. Weatherbe practiced in Halifax with Wallace Nesbit Graham, the thirteenth chief justice, and was the Legislature's law clerk from 1868-1878. Known for his "florid eloquence and impassioned rhetoric," he helped Canada win a major fishing dispute with the United States in 1877.

He was named to the Supreme Court in October of the following year, one of many last-minute Liberal appointees rewarded before the defeated government of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie left office. Described as "impatient, vain, and domineering," Weatherbe became something of a devil's advocate on the court, frequently writing judgments that dissented from the views of his colleagues. As senior judge, he was tapped in January 1905 to replace James McDonald as chief justice, only to retire little more than two years later in March 1907. Weatherbe died in Halifax on April 27, 1915.

For more information on Sir Robert Linton Weatherbe, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Sir Charles JamesSir Charles James Townshend 1907-1915

Twelfth Chief Justice

Charles James Townshend was born in Amherst, N.S. on March 22, 1844, the son of a clergyman and grandson of a Supreme Court judge, Alexander Stewart. He graduated from King’s College in Windsor, N.S. with honours in 1863. Townshend articled in the law office of Senator R.B. Dickey of Amherst. He was admitted to the bar in 1866 and eventually took over the practice when Dickey retired. He served as MLA for Cumberland County from 1878-1884, was minister without portfolio in the provincial cabinet until 1882, then switched to the federal arena in 1884. In 1885, as Cumberland’s MP, Townshend put forward an amendment to the Franchise Bill to delete a clause that would have given women the right to vote.

Townshend was appointed to the Supreme Court in March 1887 and, in 1907, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier appointed him chief justice. Sir Henry Strong, chief justice of Canada, once noted that Townshend’s rulings were “characterized by lucidity and sound reasoning.” Another observer noted that his reasoned judgments and “modest demeanor ... placed him beyond criticism by members of the bar.” Townshend, who published studies of other chief justices and court history, retired in April 1914. He died in Wolfville on June 16, 1924.

For more information on Sir Charles James Townshend, see W. Stewart Wallace, The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: Macmillan, 1973), p. 753.

Sir Wallace N. GrahamSir Wallace Nesbit Graham 1915-1917

Thirteenth Chief Justice

Political and professional ties propelled Wallace Graham to the chief justice’s post, but his impartiality and legal skill cemented his claim to the office. Born in Antigonish on January 15, 1848, he was the son of a sea captain and shipbuilder. Educated at Acadia College, he studied law with a Halifax firm and was called to the bar in 1871. Graham practiced in Halifax with future Conservative prime ministers John S.D. Thompson and Robert L. Borden, and was also a law partner of the eleventh chief justice, Sir Robert Linton Weatherbe.

Colleagues respected Graham’s “character, integrity, and ability,” according to a biographer. Thompson considered him the ablest lawyer in the Maritimes and, as federal minister of justice, appointed Graham to the Supreme Court in September 1889. Graham accepted out of a desire to improve and professionalize the court. His rulings in divorce and child custody cases have been credited with making the law more fair to women. His reputation for impartiality led to his 1914 appointment to chair a royal commission that investigated politically sensitive conflict-of-interest allegations against Nova Scotia’s attorney general. In April 19, 1915 Borden, by now prime minister, named him chief justice and Graham was knighted the following year. He died in office on October 12, 1917.

For more information on Sir Wallace Nesbit Graham, consult the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

Rober Edward HarrisRobert Edward Harris 1918-1931

Fourteenth Chief Justice

Robert Edward Harris was born at Annapolis Royal, N.S. on August 18, 1860. He taught school in nearby Tupperville for two years, then studied law with a local lawyer and in the firm of Sir John S.D. Thompson, later the prime minister, and Sir Wallace Graham, who would become his predecessor as chief justice. Harris was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar in 1882 after placing first in the bar exams. While practicing law in Yarmouth and later in Halifax, Harris was described as “an organizing genius” and the “most courteous of men.” A specialist in corporate law, he was president of Eastern Trust Company, Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company and other firms. He served as president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in 1906 and in 1908-1909.

Harris was a friend of Prime Minister Robert L. Borden, who appointed him to the Supreme Court in June 1915 and bypassed senior judges to name him chief justice in March 1918. Harris, regarded as “an efficient chief justice,” collected many of the portraits of former chief justices and senior judges that now hang in The Law Courts in Halifax and were reproduced in a book compiled by his nephew, R.V. Harris. Another of his legacies was the ceremonial mace he presented to the Nova Scotia Legislature. Harris died on May 30, 1931.

For more information on Robert Edward Harris, see R.E. Inglis, “Sketches of Two Chief Justices of Nova Scotia, Sir Charles Townshend, Robert E. Harris,” Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, vol. 39 (1977), pp. 107-19.

Sir Joseph A. ChisholmSir Joseph Andrew Chisholm 1931-1950

Fifteenth Chief Justice

Joseph Andrew Chisholm was born in St. Andrews, N.S., on January 9, 1863 and educated at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish and at Dalhousie Law School. Called to the bar in 1886, he joined the Halifax law firm headed by a future prime minister, Robert L. Borden. Chisholm was mayor of Halifax from 1909-1911 and in 1916 Borden’s government appointed him to the Supreme Court.

Chisholm was elevated to the chief justiceship in 1931. A keen student of the province’s legal history, he wrote a number of historical papers on the careers of his predecessors as chief justice and edited a revised edition of The Speeches and Public Letters of Joseph Howe that was published in 1909. The first Dalhousie law graduate to serve on the court, Chisholm was also the last Nova Scotia chief justice to be knighted, an honour bestowed in 1935. He remained chief justice until his death on January 22, 1950 at age 87.

For more information on Sir Joseph Andrew Chisholm, see W. Stewart Wallace, The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: Macmillan, 1973), p. 136.

James Lorimer IlsleyJames Lorimer Ilsley 1950-1967

Sixteenth Chief Justice

James Lorimer Ilsley, better known as J.L. Ilsley, was born in Somerset, N.S. in 1894. He attended public schools in Berwick and went on to Acadia University and Dalhousie Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 1916 and practiced in Kentville for 20 years. In 1926, he embarked on a remarkable public career during which he was elected five times as MP for an Annapolis Valley riding. From 1935-1940 he was minister of national revenue and served as the minister of finance for the remainder of the Second World War. Historian Jack Granatstein has described him as possessing “the sharpest mind and the finest oratorical style” of Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s talented wartime cabinet.

Ilsley was known as a “champion of world co-operation” and was Canada’s delegate to the League of Nations and in 1947 to the United Nations. He was federal justice minister and attorney General from 1946 to 1948. Appointed to the Supreme Court in May 1949, he was named chief justice less than a year later. In 1966, he became chief justice of the court’s newly created Appeal Division. He died on January 14, 1967.

Lauchlin Daniel CurrieLauchlin Daniel Currie 1967-1968

Seventeenth Chief Justice

Born March 28, 1893 at North Sydney, Lauchlin Daniel Currie worked as a coal miner and bricklayer before graduating from Dalhousie Law School in 1922. He was the lawyer for the Cape Breton division of the United Mine Workers of America for a decade, before entering politics in 1933.

Currie was Liberal MLA for Cape Breton East from 1933-1941 and represented another Cape Breton riding, Richmond, from 1941-1949. During the 1940s he held a number of cabinet posts, including attorney general and minister of mines, labour and public health. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1949, he was elevated to chief justice of the Trial Division in 1966 and to chief justice of the Appeal Division (making him chief justice of Nova Scotia) in February 1967. He retired in March 1968 and died the following February in Halifax.

For more information, see Shirley B. Elliott, ed., The Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, 1758-1983: A Biographical Directory (Halifax: Province of Nova Scotia, 1984), p. 45.

Alexander Hugh MacKinnonAlexander Hugh MacKinnon 1968-1973

Eighteenth Chief Justice

Alexander Hugh McKinnon was born in Inverness, N.S., on December 24, 1904 and educated at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. He received his law degree from Dalhousie Law School in 1929 and was admitted to the bar that year. He practiced law for twenty years in Inverness, a coal mining town on Cape Breton’s west coast. The MLA for Inverness from 1940-1953, he served as minister of health and as minister of labour and mines.

In 1954 McKinnon was appointed judge of the County Court for Antigonish. He was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court’s Appeal Division in 1966 and, in 1968, he was named chief justice of Nova Scotia. He died on June 16, 1973.

For more information, see Shirley B. Elliott, ed., The Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, 1758-1983: A Biographical Directory (Halifax: Province of Nova Scotia, 1984), p. 140.

Ian Malcolm MacKeiganIan Malcolm MacKeigan 1973-1985

Nineteenth Chief Justice

Ian Malcolm MacKeigan had no previous judicial experience when he was appointed chief justice – the first Nova Scotia lawyer named chief justice “off the street” since James McDonald in 1881. Born in 1915 in Saint John, N.B., MacKeigan graduated from Dalhousie Law School and was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar in 1938. After working in Ottawa for the federal government for a decade, he returned to Halifax, where he practiced law from 1950-1973. He chaired the Atlantic Development Board, was a member of the Economic Council of Canada, and served as a director of major companies including John Labatt Ltd. and Gulf Oil Canada. He was president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society from 1959-1960.

His tenure was marred by a case that began before he assumed office in 1973 – Donald Marshall Jr.’s wrongful murder conviction in 1971. When the case was brought before the Appeal Division in 1982, MacKeigan and four other judges cleared Marshall of the crime but, in effect, blamed him for the miscarriage of justice. The inquiry into the Marshall case tried to force the judges to explain themselves and later criticized the court’s effort to exonerate the justice system. In 1985, in the midst of the Marshall controversy, MacKeigan stepped down as chief justice but continued to hear cases as a supernumerary (part-time) judge until 1990. He died May 1, 1996, in Halifax.

For more information on Ian Malcolm MacKeigan, see K. Simpson, ed., Canadian Who’s Who, vol. 27 (1992) (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), p. 659.

Lorne O. ClarkeLorne O. Clarke 1985-1998

Twentieth Chief Justice

Born in Malagash, N.S. in 1928, Lorne Clarke received his legal education at Dalhousie and Harvard universities. He taught at Dalhousie Law School in the 1950s, practiced law in Truro from 1959-1981, served on two royal commissions that examined workers' compensation, and was often called upon to settle labour and commercial disputes.

Clarke was appointed to the Supreme Court's Trial Division in February 1981 and was elevated to chief justice of the Appeal Division (now the Court of Appeal) in 1985. He instituted many reforms in response to the 1990 inquiry into Donald Marshall Jr.'s wrongful conviction for murder, which found that racism and favouritism tainted the province's justice system. Clarke is credited with making Nova Scotia's courts a national leader in judicial education and media relations, as well as more accessible and accountable to the public.

Clarke retired from the court in June 1998 and joined a group of retired judges and senior lawyers at ADR Chambers, which offers mediation services. He continues to contribute to the community in a variety of ways, including as chair of a committee that selected a memorial to the victims of the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 off Peggy's Cove.

For more information on Lorne O. Clarke, see the biography on the ADR Cambers website:

Constance R. GlubeConstance R. Glube 1998-2004

Twenty-first Chief Justice

Constance R. Glube led the Supreme Court into the twenty-first century. She was born in Ottawa on November 23, 1931 and received her undergraduate education at Montreal’s McGill University. She completed her law degree at Dalhousie Law School in 1955 and was admitted to the bar the following year. She practiced in Halifax for four years before joining the legal department of the City of Halifax in 1969. A series of firsts followed – the first woman to be a city manager in Canada (1974), the first woman appointed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (1977), and the first woman named chief justice of a Canadian court (1982).

Glube served as chief of the court’s trial division until June 1998, when she succeeded Lorne Clarke as chief justice of the Court of Appeal and the province – another Nova Scotia first for a woman. Held in high regard for her administrative abilities, she has served on a number of committees of the Canadian Judicial Council and was a leader in the development of educational programs for judges. Glube has announced that she will retire on Dec. 31. 2004.

For more information on Constance R. Glube, see Canadian Who’s Who 1997 online:


Note: Additional information for these biographies has been drawn from The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and Its Judges: 1754-1978 (Halifax: Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, 1978).