HISTORY OF
THE CALGARY
BAR ASSOCIATION

IN PURSUIT OF
CORDIAL INTERCOURSE
 

The Calgary Bar Association was established on May 12, 1890 by Peter McCarthy, J.B. Smith, E.P. Davis, T.B. Lafferty, Patrick J. (Paddy) Nolan, Arthur L. Sifton, J.R. Costigan, E. Cave, Nicolas Beck, T.C. West, John C.F. Bown, John P.J. Jephson and W.L. Bernard. The stated purposes of the Association were to cultivate a feeling of professional brotherhood, discuss various matters affecting the interests of the profession, and take united action thereon.

The earliest incorporating document that has been located is "The Constitution", dated December 4, 1916, in which the following seven Calgary lawyers created “The Calgary Bar Association” under the Ordinance Respecting Benevolent and Other Societies (being Chapter 66 of the Consolidated Ordinances of the North West Territories): Edgar Alexander Dunbar, Henry Phipps Otty Savary, Alexander Hannah, George Abram Walker, Charles Frederick Adams, Walter Donald Gow and Henry Darney Mann.

The Constitution appointed these seven gentlemen as the first Council of Trustees of the Association, set annual dues of One Dollar and required the Association to meet annually in the month of November at such time and place as the Council may select. Article 9 provided that the President shall open each annual meeting with “an address upon such topic as he may select”.


Article 2 declares that:

The objects of the Association shall be to advance the interests of the legal profession, uphold the honour of the profession of law and encourage cordial intercourse among its members.

While the membership dues have gradually increased to a whopping $65 over the last century, the objects remain the same, and the Association has carried on the tradition of having its Annual “Meeting” each November. In keeping with the nature of the Association, business is efficiently conducted from 4:00 to 4:02, with the remainder of the time devoted to socializing. The requirement that the President address the assembled members died a merciful death decades ago and any President attempting a speech that extends beyond “Ladies and Gentlemen, the bar is now open” risks serious bodily injury.


 

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