From Premier to Chief Justice - Right Honourable Sir Louis Henry Davies

Rt. Hon.Sir Louis Henry Davies

Section 50, Lot 117 E

Louis Henry Davies was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on May 4, 1845, to Benjamin Davies and Kezia Attwood Watts. Davies was educated at Charlottetown’s Central Academy and Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, then to the Inner Temple in London, England to study law. Davies was called to the English Bar in 1866 and practised there shortly before being called to the Bar of Prince Edward Island in 1867, practising law in Charlottetown with Davies & Haszard.

Davies also served as Solicitor General in 1870 and 1872. Elected to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island in 1872, Davies became Premier of P.E.I. and Attorney General of the province in 1876. With the issue of Confederation resolved and the land question settled as a result of Canada's promise to fund land reform and the passage of the Land Purchase Act, the major issue remaining on the island was that of school funding and whether the school system should be entirely secular and public or whether separate schools for Catholics should be permitted. Davies defended the rights of tenant farmers while working towards the resolution of the land tenure question.

In 1877, Davies was one of the Canadian counsel who appeared on behalf of the British Government before the Halifax Fisheries Commission, appointed under the Treaty of Washington (1871) to resolve outstanding issues, including fishing rights. The Commission gave an award directing the United States to pay $5,500,000 to the British Government. Davies was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1880, and knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897

Davies left provincial politics in 1879 but was then elected to the House of Commons three years later. When the Liberals formed government after the 1896 election under Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Davies became minister of marine and fisheries, and during 1898–1899 he was a member of the Anglo-American joint high commission at Quebec.

On September 25, 1901, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and on October 23, 1918, was named its Chief Justice. He served on the Court for 23 years.

SCC Henry Davies

Chief Justice Davies died on May 1, 1924, at the age of 78.

RT Hon. Davies Grave

As of 2020, he is the last Chief Justice of Canada to have previously served in elected office. He is also, as of 2020, the only Prince Edward Islander to have served on the Supreme Court. The Prince Edward Island Supreme Court building in Charlottetown is named in his honour.

PEI Supreme Courts


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