The Honourable George E. Carter ’48 (1921- )
George Carter is the first black judge born in Canada. The first of 14 children, Carter grew up in Toronto, where he attended Orde Street Public School and Harbord Collegiate Institute, where he graduated at the top of his class. In 1944, he received his BA from Trinity College at the University of Toronto and, in the same year, enlisted in the Canadian army. After his military service, Carter enrolled at Osgoode to pursue his dream of a legal career. Graduating in 1948, Carter articled with B. J. Spencer Pitt, the only black lawyer practising in Ontario, then went to work for Sydney Harris ‘42, a Jewish Canadian. At the time, no other firm would accept black law students for training and Pitt, Harris and Carter were pioneers in opening doors for black lawyers. In 1980, Carter was appointed to the bench. As a judge, he was instrumental in establishing legal aid services and informing the Adoption of Coloured Children agency.
Laura Legge ’48 (1923-2010)
Laura Legge was the first woman to be elected as a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and went on to become its first female Treasurer. A strong advocate for the traditional rights and duties of the legal profession, Legge led several legal and community services. She was also a role model and mentor to many young female lawyers. During her lifetime, Legge received several awards, including an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the Law Society and the Alumni Award of Excellence from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1997. In 2007, the Law Society created the Laura Legge Award to honour her many contributions to the profession. It is awarded to women who exemplify leadership in the profession.
Judy LaMarsh ‘50 (1924-1980)
Judy LaMarsh was born in Chatham, Ontario, and grew up in Niagara Falls. Talented and outspoken, she was a true original. LaMarsh enlisted in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps during WWII , serving as a translator in Intelligence with Japanese-Canadian soldiers. After the war, she attended the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. LaMarsh was called to the Bar in 1950 and joined her father’s law practice. She would eventually leave the practice to become a Liberal MP in 1960. In 1963, she became the first Ontario female lawyer and the second woman to ever serve in the federal Cabinet. As the Minister of Health and Welfare, LaMarsh pushed for the adoption of the Canada Pension Plan and Medicare. She also served as the Secretary of State during Canada’s Centennial in 1967. LaMarsh left politics in 1968, to become a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and a lecturer at Osgoode Hall Law School. She helped to establish the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada and advocated for women’s rights for the rest of her life. She was once quoted as saying: “There are hundreds of women, from every walk of life, who would go into politics with some party encouragement.” The Liberal Party created a fund in LaMarsh’s name to provide financial support to female federal Liberal candidates.
Leonard Braithwaite ‘58 (1923-2012)
The son of West Indian immigrants, Leonard Braithwaite grew up in the Kensington Market area of Toronto during the Great Depression. He enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII, and served with No. 6 Bomber Command in England. Upon leaving the Armed Forces, he earned a degree in commerce from the University of Toronto, a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. He was the editor of the Obiter Dicta, the elected student body President, and won the Gold Key Award upon graduation. In 1960, Braithwaite embarked on a successful political career in Etobicoke. He was the first black person elected to the Etobicoke Township Board of Education and alderman on the Etobicoke Council. Braithwaite became a Member of Provincial Parliament in 1963, the first black person in Canada to do so. During his inauguration speech, he spoke out against segregation in Ontario schools and was instrumental in its abolition in Ontario. Just a year after his speech, the last segregated school in the province closed for good. Braithwaite served as MPP until 1975. In 1999, he became the first black bencher elected to the Governing Council of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry ’58 (1932- )
R. Roy McMurtry, former Ontario Chief Justice and Attorney General and Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, currently serves as the twelfth Chancellor of York University. A Toronto native, McMurtry attended Trinity College at the University of Toronto before graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1958. After working as a trial lawyer for 17 years, McMurtry was elected to the Ontario Legislature and was appointed Attorney General in 1975. He left office in 1985 to become Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. In 1996, he was appointed Chief Justice of Ontario after serving as the Chief of the Superior Court of Justice. During his career, he has been involved in constitutional reform, the promotion of multiculturalism and bilingualism in the courts, and been a leader on same sex marriage issues. Among his many achievements, McMurtry founded Pro Bono Access Ontario as well as the Osgoode Society, which is dedicated to the writing of Canadian legal history. In recognition of his work, McMurtry has received numerous awards and honors, including Osgoode Hall Law School’s Alumni Award of Excellence, the President of the Bar Association’s Award of Merit, and an honorary degree form York University. He was invested into the Order of Ontario in 2008 and as an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2010.
The Honourable Russell Juriansz ’72 (1946- )
Born in India, Justice Russell Juriansz came to Toronto at the age of nine. In 1969, he graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science degree and then enrolled at Osgoode where he distinguished himself as President of the Legal & Literary Society. Juriansz practised in administrative, constitutional and employment law, concentrating on human rights, labour relations, pay equity, pension and benefits, and the Charter. From 1978 to 1987 he was General Counsel and Director of Legal Services for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, then went on to become a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP before establishing his own practice. He was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice, then called the Ontario Court (General Division), in 1998. He was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2004 and became the first person of colour and the first South Asian judge on the Court.
Bonnie Tough ’76 (1951-2011)
Bonnie Tough was a pioneering litigator and Law Society bencher who served as a role model to many young female lawyers. After clerking at the Supreme Court of Canada, Tough practised at Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP and then at Hodgson Tough. In 2005 she and Kathryn Podrebarac ‘92 founded Tough and Podrebarac LLP. Tough was an active member of the Osgoode community, serving on the Alumni Board and working as an Adjunct Professor teaching insurance law. She received a number of awards and honours including an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Law Society for her contribution to the profession; a Lexpert Magazine award as one of Canada’s top 25 women lawyers; the Ontario Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation; and Osgoode’s Alumni Gold Key Award. Known to her friends and colleagues as compassionate, intelligent and full of energy, Tough was dedicated to her best friend and spouse Connie Reeve, whom she married in the midst of her illness after many happy years together.
Harry LaForme ’77 (1946-)
Justice Harry S. LaForme is a member of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation located in southern Ontario. He was born and raised on his reserve where his mother and some of his family continue to reside and remain active in that First Nation’s government. His early years were spent on a reserve in Hagersville, where his father, Maurice, and grandfather ,Sylvester, known as “Big Pat,” were chiefs. LaForme’s older brother, Bryan, holds that position today. Maurice moved the family to Buffalo, where Harry, who loved basketball, became involved in championing youth through coaching a local team. Harry went to technical school and became an engineer. LaForme graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1977 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1979. In 1991, he was appointed as Chair of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Land Claims. He taught the “Rights of Indigenous Peoples” law course at Osgoode in 1992 and 1993. LaForme was appointed to what is now the Superior Court of Ontario in 1994. He broke new ground by ruling in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage in 2002. He was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2004, becoming the first aboriginal person appointed to an appellate court in Canada.