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Memorable Manitobans: Samuel Freedman (1908-1993)

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Samuel Freedman
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Lawyer, judge.

Born in Ukraine on 16 April 1908, he came to Manitoba in 1911 with his parents Nathan Freedman (c1874-1963) and Ada Foxman (1880-1980), brother of Max Freedman, and was educated at Aberdeen School, St. John’s Technical High School, and the University of Manitoba, graduating in honours classics in 1929, when he entered University of Manitoba Law School. He articled with Steinkopf and Lawrence. As a law student and afterwards he was an accomplished debater, winning the McGoun Cup in 1930 with William Lewis Morton as his partner.

Upon graduation, he took up work in the law firm headed by Max Steinkopf, and in 1945, was named King’s Counsel. In 1946, Freedman set up his own law firm, Freedman and Golden. He served four years as editor of the Manitoba Bar News, was President of the Manitoba Bar Association (1951-1952), and served as a Bencher for the Law Society of Manitoba (1949-1952). He was appointed to the Court of King’s Bench in 1952 and elevated to the Manitoba Court of Appeal in 1960. He served as Chairman of a commission investigating railroad labour troubles in 1964-1965. He was Acting Chief Justice (1966-1967) and became Chief Justice in 1971, retiring in 1983.

Outside his work in law, Freedman was active in the Jewish community and in the wider Winnipeg community, becoming President of the YMHA, an active member of B’nai B’rith and Chairman of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University. In 1955, Freedman became a member of the Board of Governors at the University of Manitoba, and from 1959 to 1968, served as Chancellor of the university. In 1978, Freedman was awarded with a chair in legal advocacy at the law school at the Hebrew University.

On 28 December 1929, he married Claris Brownie Udow (1909-2008) and they had three children. In recognition of his community service, he was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 1968, the Order of Canada in 1984, and the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame in 1987. He received the Centennial Medal of Honour from the Manitoba Historical Society in 1970, the Manitoba Golden Boy Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), and was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Manitoba (1968) and the University of Winnipeg (1983).

He died at the Misericordia Hospital on 6 March 1993 and was buried in the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery. He is commemorated by Freedman Crescent at the University of Manitoba. There are papers at the Archives of Manitoba.

See also:

Chief Justice Samuel Freedman: A Great Canadian Judge edited by Cameron Harvey (1983).


Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Obituary [Nathan Freedman], Winnipeg Tribune, 30 March 1963, page 30.

Obituary [Ada Freedman], Winnipeg Free Press, 1 April 1980, page 80.

The Worst of Times, The Best of Times: Growing Up in Winnipeg’s North End by Harry Gutkin, Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1987.

“Men of Winnipeg in Diamond Jubilee Sketches,” Winnipeg Free Press, December 1934. [Winnipeg Elite Study, G. Friesen Fonds, Mss 154, University of Manitoba Archives]

“Six Manitoba barristers appointed King’s Counsel,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 January 1945, page 1.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 8 March 1993, page 27.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Obituary [Brownie Freedman], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 November 2008.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

We thank Robert Clarke for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 April 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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