On November 9, 2018, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta hosted a Call to the Bar and Remembrance Ceremony at the Calgary Courts Centre that posthumously honoured 37 Alberta law students who served in the First World War and never returned.
Chief Justice Mary Moreau, Associate Chief Justice John Rooke and Justice Blair Nixon presided over the moving “We Have Not Forgotten” ceremony, which was put together by the Legal Archives Society of Alberta and held in the Ceremonial Courtroom.
Shaun T. MacIsaac, Q.C., then-president of the Legal Archives Society, noted that when Great Britain declared war on August 3, 1914, Albertans lined up to fight for King and Empire and approximately 100 Alberta lawyers and countless law students answered the call for service.
Unfortunately, 25 of those lawyers and 37 law students did not return.
“If not for the tragedy of war, these 37 law students would have gone on to become lawyers in our province, and no doubt would have been instrumental in shaping the destiny of what was then a young province,” said MacIsaac.
He also noted the 100th anniversary celebrating the Armistice ending hostilities on November 11, 1918, and asked everyone to reflect on the courage and sacrifice of the 37 law students.
“As a community, we owe a great debt to these fine individuals, and to all the brave men and women that enlisted and served in World War 1,” said MacIsaac. “Let this Call to the Bar Ceremony be remembered as the legal profession’s way of recognizing and honouring the sacrifice of these fallen soldiers.”
The special ceremony came about as a result of the Benchers of the Law Society of Alberta unanimously resolving the following on Sept. 29, 2018:
“In memory and recognition of the sacrifice of Alberta students-at-law who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and who served therewith in the Great War of 1914-1918, and who lost their lives in service of our country in said War, the Law Society of Alberta waives all enrolment requirements and acknowledges they are entitled to be posthumously admitted to the Law Society of Alberta.”
The Legal Archives Society notes it owes a debt of gratitude to Toronto lawyer Patrick Shea for his tireless efforts to collect and preserve biographical information about law students from across Canada, including Alberta, who fought and died in the First World War. Mr. Shea is the author of the book “They Shall Grow Not Old: Alberta Law Students Lost in the Great War.”
After welcoming remarks, Chief Justice Moreau accepted the application for the first 12 students, which was made by Robert W. Armstrong, Q.C., then-president of the Law Society of Alberta.
Descendants or current law students stood in place of the fallen students to take oaths and sign certificates on their behalf.
Associate Chief Justice Rooke accepted the application for the next 12 students, which was made by Lieutenant Commander Jay Headrick, Office of the Judge Advocate General, Deputy Judge Advocate Calgary and then-vice president of the Calgary Bar Association.
Justice Nixon accepted the application for the last 13 students, which was made by Keith D. Marlowe, then-treasurer of the Legal Archives Society of Alberta.
Following the Call to the Bar, remarks were made by Caroline Saunders, British Consul General, British Consulate General, Calgary and Colonel Eppo van Weelderen, Commander, 41 Canadian Brigade Group.
To view a video of the ceremony, please click here.
The ceremony ended with the playing of the Last Post and Reveille.