Strong, Samuel Henry (DNB12)

STRONG, Sir SAMUEL HENRY (1825–1909), chief justice of Canada, born at Poole, Dorsetshire, on 13 Aug. 1825, was son of Samuel S. Strong, D.D., LL.D., by his wife Jane Elizabeth Gosse of that town, sister of Philip Henry Gosse [q. v.]. In his eleventh year he accompanied to Canada his father, who became chaplain of the forces in Quebec and rector of Bytown (now Ottawa) and rural dean. Educated in the Quebec High School and privately, the son began to study law in Bytown, and was called to the bar in Toronto in 1849. He entered into partnership with H. Eccles (afterwards librarian of Osgoode Hall) and later with Sir Thomas W. Taylor (subsequently chief justice of Manitoba) and (Sir) James David Edgar (who became speaker of the Canadian House of Commons). Strong rapidly secured a reputation in the courts of equity, and was appointed in 1856 a member of the commission for the consolidation of the statutes of Canada and of Upper Canada. He was elected a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1860 and took silk in 1863. Six years later he was raised to the bench as one of the vice-chancellors' of Ontario. He served on the commission of inquiry into a union of the law and equity courts in 1871. In 1874 he was transferred to the Court of Error and Appeal of Ontario, then the highest of the provincial tribunals.

In 1875 Strong was advanced to the newly constituted Supreme Court of Canada as a puisne judge, and on the death in Dec. 1892 of Sir William Johnstone Ritchie [q. v.], he became chief justice. He was knighted next year. His appointment as a member of the judicial committee of the privy council followed in Jan. 1897. He resigned the chief-justiceship in 1902 in order to become chief of a commission for the consolidation of the statutes of Canada. He died at Ottawa on 21 Aug. 1909.

One of the ablest jurists of Canada, Strong was distinguished by his powerful memory for cases, by a scientific knowledge of the principles of both law and equity, and by a power of incisive comment that added much to the force of his obiter dicta. He married in 1850 Elizabeth Charlotte Cane, by whom he had two children.

A portrait in oils hangs in the Supreme Court at Ottawa.

[Rose, Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography, 1886; Morgan's Canadian Men and Women of the Time, 1898; Canadian Law Times, xxix. 1044.]

D. R. K.