Memorable Manitobans: Queen’s Counsels / King’s Counsels
The appointment of a lawyer as a Queen’s Counsel (or a King’s Counsel depending on the gender of the reigning monarch) was an honour recognizing exceptional professional ability in Manitoba’s legal profession. Recipients append the letters QC or KC after their name, and are permitted to wear unique silk robes in court and to speak first during legal proceedings.
The practice of appointing Queen’s Counsels in Manitoba began in 1909 and continued annually, usually with announcements around New Years Day each year. The total number of lawyers holding QC/KC designation was fixed so the number of appointments made at any one time was determined by how many recipients had died or been elevated to the judicial bench in the preceding year. No appointments were made in 1973 because, according to NDP Attorney-General Alvin Mackling, they “had become meaningless because of the method by which they were made.” Despite these reservations, the provincial government resumed making appointments in 1975. (The federal government was also capable of making appointments.) It stopped again in 1987 pending a study into the usefulness of the designation, then resumed under a new government in 1989.
In early 2001, the Manitoba provincial government announced that it would discontinue the practice of awarding the designations and would turn over responsibility for them to a group of Chief Justices and the Law Society of Manitoba, with a change in terminology to Senior Counsel. However, the change was never implemented and QCs are no longer awarded. Existing designations remain in effect. In March 2018, the provincial government introduced legislation to reinstate the title of Queen’s Counsel.
The following is a partial list of Manitoba lawyers who have been given the QC/KC honour, and the year in which they were appointed.
“Nine new K.C.’s,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 May 1916, page 5.
“Appointments made of ten King’s Counsel,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1929, page 14.
“Seven get K.C. honor,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 January 1939, page 1.
“Three King’s Counsel for Manitoba named,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1940, page 3.
“Nine new K.C.’s appointed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 January 1944, page 13.
“13 new QCs are named,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1957, page 1.
“Nine Manitoba lawyers named Queen’s counsel,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1960, page 32.
“Ten Manitobans on honors list,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1960, page 1.
“10 Manitoba lawyers on New Year’s list,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1965, page 6.
“12 men named Queen’s Counsel,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1966, page 4.
“New QCs include Zuken, two women,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1971, page 9.
“No QCs named for ‘73,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 December 1972, page 1.
“Manitoba names 9 new QCs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1975, page 43.
“Asper among 10 new Manitoba QCs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1975, page 40.
“Fourteen are appointed Queen’s Counsel,” Swan Valley Star and Times, 23 January 1986, page 12.
“NDP irks lawyers by ending QC designation,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 January 2001, page 7.
“New legislation would reinstate Queen’s Counsel in Manitoba,” Manitoba News Release, 19 March 2018.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 16 February 2019Back to top of page