Endorsement by the Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada in January 10, 2014. Speech at a Luncheon in the Benchers’ Hall

The Macdonald Project: celebrating history

Next year will mark the 200th birthday of a nation builder — Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Various celebrations are planned throughout the country to commemorate and celebrate the life of this famed father of Confederation, including The Macdonald Project.

For the first phase of this unique project, Canada’s foremost bronze portrait artist, Ruth Abernethy, has created 12 bronze busts of Macdonald.

These busts will be followed by a larger-than-life bronze statue of Macdonald as a fiery young lawyer. The statue is scheduled to be unveiled in January 2015 in Picton, Ontario — where Macdonald launched his career in law and politics. Project planners hope the statue will enhance the town’s historic core.

I’m very pleased that one of the bronze busts is on loan to the Law Society for the next three months. Both Ms. Abernethy and Richard Gwyn, the award-winning Canadian author and Macdonald biographer, joined us at the bust’s installation earlier this month.

It’s particularly fitting that this bust is displayed here at Osgoode Hall because, as a young lawyer and later as a bencher, Macdonald would have been familiar with the building.

Our 1830 Convocation records show his name among a list of three young men admitted as students-at-law, following their successful completion of examinations. Macdonald was a mere 15 years old at the time.

His name then appears again in 1835 on the Law Society’s Attorneys’ and Solicitors’ Rolls. Our Convocation minutes from 1836 show that he passed the Barristers’ examination and was called to the Bar when he was just 21.

Macdonald later sat as a Law Society bencher for 22 years.

The practice of law has changed radically since Macdonald’s time. If he was with us today, I’m sure he would marvel at the evolution of our ever-changing profession.

I invite you to visit Osgoode Hall and admire this wonderful sculpture, which you will be able to view at the entry to Convocation Hall as of Jan. 24.

Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada Thomas Conway: