Duff, Sir Lyman Poore

Sir Lyman Poore Duff, chief justice of Canada 1933-44 (b at Meaford, Ont 7 Jan 1865; d at Ottawa 26 Apr 1955). Educated and called to the bar in Ontario, he moved to Victoria in 1894, where he soon established himself as a skilled and busy counsel. After 2 years on the British Columbia Supreme Court, he went to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1906 where he served for nearly 38 years. He was the leading figure on the court while Canada was making the transition from an agrarian society to a modern industrial state. In constitutional law his decisions were, and still are, pre-eminent. Perhaps his greatest contribution to Canadian nationhood was his decision in 1940 upholding the power of the Dominion government to abolish appeals to the Privy Council in London unilaterally; the Privy Council agreed with Duff, though the legislation for that purpose did not become effective until 1 January 1949. He thereby can be credited with establishing a wholly indigenous court system.