Happy new year, Ottawa legal community! We’re back on the blog, and for our first Throwback Thursday post of 2017, we’re looking at CCLA history. The CCLA has been around since 1888, and while the first meeting to discuss the formation of the association was actually held in December 1887, it was in the following month that we came into being! This year we celebrate being 129 years old (which, believe it or not, does not make us the oldest law association in the province!).

On the occasion of our 100th anniversary, a book was published detailing the history of our association. The following excerpt comes from this book:

On December 17, 1881, in the Lecture Room of the Literary Society of Ottawa, a meeting of local lawyers was held for the purpose of exploring the idea of establishing an association of the members of the practising Bar in the community similar to that in place in other cities. The meeting was chaired by the Honourable Mr. Justice W.A. Henry. The result was a neatly printed circular dates at Ottawa on the 4th of January, 1888 requesting the presence of members of the Bar at a meeting to be held in the same Lecture Room, 25 Sparks Street, Ottawa, on January 7, 1888 at 4:30 in the afternoon. The circular is reproduced for posterity.

“Ottawa, January 4th, 1888
Dear Sir,

At a meeting of the Members of the Bar, held on the 17th December, in the Lecture Room of the Literary Society, it was decided to organize a Bar Association for the County of Carleton, and a Committee was appointed for the purpose of making all necessary enquiries with respect to simiar associations in other cities and drawing the declaration and a scheme for organization for submission to a future meeting.

The Committee so appointed have prepared a scheme under the rules of the Law Society of Upper Canada for organization, and have drawn for approval and signatures, the declaration for registration under the Literary Associations Act, which it is intended to submit to the adjourned meeting to be held in the Lecture Room of the Library Society, 25 Sparks Street, on Saturday, next, the 7th January Instant, at 4:30 pm.

It is proposed to sign and complete the declaration at that meeting and to elect the Trustees who are to be the governing body of the Association, and whose names must appear in the declaration; and it is of the utmost importance for the future success of the Association that the meeting should be a general meeting of the Barristers and Solicitors of the City of Ottawa.

Your presence is respectfully requested at the above meeting on Saturday afternoon next at 4:30.

W.A. Henry (Justice Supreme Court), Chairman
R. Lees, Q.C.
W. Mosgrove
F.H. Chrysler
R.J. Wicksteed
G.M. Greene
G.E. Kidd
F. Bebbington, Secretary

The meeting took place and the minutes have survived. Details of the event were apparently of enough local interest to have appeared in the Ottawa Citizen the following Monday.

At the meeting it was resolved that an association composed of barristers and solicitors practising in the County of Carleton to be called “The County of Carleton Law Association” be established. The first trustees were the following: Robert Lees; Francis Henry Chrysler; John N. Greene; David O’Connor; William Mosgrove; John Alexander; Duncan Byron MacTavish; Napoleon A. Belcourt; and Francis Robert Latchford. It is a legitimate assumption that the trustees were a representative sampling of members of the practising Bar in Ottawa who numbered at the time approximately 60 souls.

From: David W. Scott, Q.C., “County of Carleton Law Association The Early Years: 1888-1920” in William C.V. Johnson, ed., The First Century: Essays on the History of the County of Carleton Law Association by Various Hands on the Occasion of the Association’s Centenary, 1888-1988 (Ottawa: Bonanza Press Ltd., 1988) 6.

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