George Wheelock Burbidge

George Wheelock Burbidge, lawyer, jurist, author (b at Cornwallis, NS 6 Feb 1847; d at Ottawa 18 Feb 1908). Hard working and dedicated, Burbidge was a complex individual who typified the 19th-century legalist in being fair and a staunch supporter of the rule of law, but uncompromising and elitist.

Burbidge, George Wheelock

George Wheelock Burbidge, lawyer, jurist, author (b at Cornwallis, NS 6 Feb 1847; d at Ottawa 18 Feb 1908). Hard working and dedicated, Burbidge was a complex individual who typified the 19th-century legalist in being fair and a staunch supporter of the rule of law, but uncompromising and elitist. As deputy minister of justice 1882-87, he blocked the proposed 1884 legislation to bar Canadian-born Chinese from inheriting or purchasing land. In 1885 he was the federal government's chief strategist in the trial of Louis RIEL.

His Digest of the Criminal Law of Canada successfully collected Canadian penal law in one volume and was superseded only by the Criminal Code of 1892, of which Burbidge was coauthor with Robert SEDGEWICK. When elevated to the bench in 1887 as the first justice of the Exchequer Court, he organized that tribunal and developed much of the procedure it follows today.