Law students who died in First World War called to bar
John William Gow Logan had one course and some articling to complete before becoming a lawyer, but his death in the First World War left his dream unfinished.
The son of Manitoba homesteaders enlisted as a private in the 50th Battalion in 1915 and within months was promoted to corporal. He was killed on the last day of the Battle of the Somme in France on Nov. 18, 1916 — a month shy of his 30th birthday.
Logan is one of 37 aspiring lawyers posthumously admitted to the bar in a ceremony Friday at the Calgary Courts Centre ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the armistice ending the conflict.
Logan’s great-niece Leslie Lavers said “It’s a piece of closure. It brings him back and it puts him to rest all at the same time.”
Lavers never knew her “greatuncle Gow,” but she learned a lot about him from his eight siblings who lived into their 80s and 90s.
“The shadow of his death lasted with them until their own deaths.”
Letters Logan sent during the war were witty and cheerful, always seeking to ease the worries of his loved ones, she said. In one, he complains to his sister: “There are far too many lice and they are far too affectionate for my liking.”
Keith Marlowe with the Legal Archives Society of Alberta said every November the profession recognizes members who died serving. But when law students’ names are read, there has always been the caveat that they were “never called.”
“But for the war, all of these students would have gone on to become lawyers and they would have given back to the Alberta legal community,” said Marlowe, a partner at Blakes, Cassels and Graydon. “We wanted to make sure they were treated in the same way, on the same footing, with the same recognition as the Alberta lawyers who also perished in the war.”
Organizers credit Patrick Shea, a partner at Gowlings in Toronto who was in the reserves, with making the ceremony possible. Shea dug through historical records and amassed details on the 550 Canadian lawyers and law students killed during the First World War.
A bugler plays the Last Post during the We Have Not Forgotten Bar Call ceremony in Calgary Friday in remembrance of 37 Alberta law students who died in the First World War.