Fonds MC72 - William J. West

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William J. West

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  • Textual record
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  • 1950-1982 (Creation)
    West, William John

Physical description

8.2 m of textual records
12 photographs.

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Biographical history

Lawyer, politician, and judge, William John West, the son of Amelia Prince Small and Wesley West, was born at Cole's Island, Queens County, New Brunswick on 20 December 1892. Educated at local schools in Coles Island, he attended Gagetown Grammar School and later Mount Allison (B.A.) and Harvard (LL.B.) universities. In addition to farm work, he spent five years as a clerk in a country store, time as a lumberjack and rafter, and a year running a large sawmill. Although politics interested him from a young age, he followed his father's and grandfather's affiliation to the Progresive Conservative Party, it was only through an uncle that the law suggested itself as an option. Called to the New Brunswick bar in 1923, he practised law, first at Woodstock (1923-1928) and then in Fredericton under the firm name Hanson, Dougherty & West. In 1933 he married Katherine E. MacMurray, and the couple raised two daughters, Mary (Pratt) and Barbara (Cross).

William West's education at Mount Allison was interrupted in 1915, when he enlisted as a gunner in the lst C.G.A. He served overseas in England and France with the artillery, a signal corps, and Canadian engineers during the First World War, including duty at Vimy and Paschendale. He was demobilized from the army in April 1919 with the rank of lieutenant.

West was active in the business and political arenas. He served as director of the A. R. Loggie Company and the Maritime Trust Company. Two terms on Fredericton City Council were followed in 1952 by election on the Progressive Conservative ticket as an MLA for York County. He served as Attorney General in Hugh John Flemming's cabinet until 1958, when he was appointed to the Appeals Division of the New Brunswick Supreme Court. He stepped down from the court in 1967 and among his retirement achievements was the publication of The Wests of Coles Island, The Story of a Family, in 1982. Judge West died February 24, 1985.

Prominent People of New Brunswick
Daily Gleaner February 25, 1985.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds documents William J. West's career as a Judge of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick. It consists of more than 400 individual case files containing correspondence, judgments, notes, briefs, and other legal documents. The fonds also includes miscellaneous legal correspondence (1952-1967), lists of barristers, and dockets, as well as correspondence, speeches, and newspaper clippings relating to his political career.

Lastly, the fonds contains personal correspondence, personal legal records, genealogical notes on the West family, a transcript of an interview with William West, invitations to social functions, family photographs, newspaper clippings, and materials pertaining to riverboats and steamships on the St. John River.

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Immediate source of acquisition

William J. West donated his case files and photographs to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick on 6 March 1979. He donated the remainder of the records on 8 September 1982.


Language of material

  • English

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