Hugh Richardson | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Hugh Richardson

Hugh Richardson, lawyer, judge, chief justice of NWT (b at London, Eng 31 July 1826; d at Ottawa 15 July 1913).
Hugh Richardson

Called to the bar of Upper Canada in 1847, Richardson practised at Woodstock until 1872, serving as crown attorney for Oxford County 1856-62. From 1872 to 1876 he was chief clerk of the Dept of Justice at Ottawa, and was subsequently named stipendiary magistrate in the NWT, a member of the Territorial Executive Council, 1876-87, and legal adviser to the lieutenant-governor.

As stipendiary magistrate, he presided at the trial of Louis Riel and others arrested in connection with the North-West Resistance of 1885, a gravely important responsibility for which, according to some authorities, he was inadequately qualified. His conduct of the trial, while arguably fair, was unimaginative and in some respects uninformed, and remains one of the controversial aspects of a contentious event. From 1887 to 1903 he served as chief justice of the NWT Supreme Court, and in 1897-98 as administrator of the government.