Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Thomas Wardlaw Taylor (1833-1917)

Lawyer, judge.

Born at Auchtermuchly, Scotland on 23 March 1833, the son of Reverend John Taylor, D.D., M.D. He received his BA from Edinburgh University in 1852 and his MA from the University of Toronto in 1856. He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1858, created a QC in 1881, and knighted in 1897.

He came to Manitoba in 1872 to practise law and was Master in Chancery from 1872 to 1883, Puisne Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench from 1883 to 1887 and Chief Justice from 1887 to 1899. In addition to writing several legal books he was administrator of the Government of Manitoba from 1890 to 1893, Judge of the Exchequer Court, Ottawa, 1900-1908, Director of the Moral and Social Reform Council, 1908-1910, and for several years was chairman of the board of management of Manitoba College.

He gained distinction as a jurist for handing down the decision against Louis Riel in 1885. In 1892 he sided with Judge Bain against Judge Dubuc in endorsing the government’s policy to abolish separate schools. Taylor wrote a number of books on legal matters, such as Grand Orders of the Court of Chancery (1865) and Commentaries on Equity Jurisprudence, Founded on Story (1875). He was regarded as an expert on Canadian church law. Among his works written in Manitoba were The Public Statutes Relating to the Presbyterian Church in Canada (1879). In 1895 he published The Individual and the State: An Essay on Justice.

He was active in Knox Church and later was instrumental in establishing Augustine Church, being one of its first elders. Following his removal to Hamilton in 1903 he served as an elder in St. Paul Presbyterian Church and gained recognition as an authority on church law in Canada. He was married twice.

At the time of his death in Hamilton, Ontario on 2 March 1917, Taylor was survived by his widow, three sons and three daughters. He is commemorated by Wardlaw Street in Winnipeg.

See also:

Thomas Wardlaw Taylor, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIV, 990-93.


Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 5 December 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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