Judges of the Court
The Honourable Sir William Buell Richards, Kt.
William Buell Richards was born in Brockville, Upper Canada (Ontario), on May 2, 1815. He was the son of Stephen Richards and Phoebe Buell. He studied at the St. Lawrence Academy in Potsdam, New York, and articled in his hometown, first with his uncle, Andrew Norton Buell, and later with George Malloch. Called to the bar in 1837, he settled in Brockville, practising with Malloch and then, after 1843, with Buell. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1848 and later became Attorney General. In 1853 he left politics when he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas of Canada West (Ontario), of which he became Chief Justice in 1863. Appointed Chief Justice of the province in November 1868, he was a member of the bench that heard, and rejected, the appeal of Patrick James Whelan, whom he had previously convicted of the murder of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a member of Parliament. When the Supreme Court of Canada was created, on September 30, 1875, he became its first chief justice, serving on the Court until his retirement on January 10, 1879. Chief Justice Richards died on January 26, 1889, at the age of 73.