William Alexander Henry
|William Alexander Henry|
|Member of the General Assembly of Nova Scotia|
|Mayor of Halifax|
|Preceded by||Stephen Tobin|
|Succeeded by||William Dunbar|
|Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada|
September 30, 1875 – May 3, 1888
|Nominated by||Alexander Mackenzie|
|Succeeded by||Christopher Salmon Patterson|
December 30, 1816|
Halifax, Nova Scotia
|Died||May 3, 1888
He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Shortly afterward, his family moved to Antigonish. He attended Halifax High School then studied law and was admitted to the bar. He was married twice (1840 and 1850). His two sons were William Alexander Henry Jr., a successful Halifax lawyer and Hugh MacD Henry, a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. The elder W. A. Henry served as a cabinet minister in Nova Scotia in governments led by both the Liberals and the Conservatives. He represented the Antigonish region almost continuously from 1840 to 1867 and was appointed attorney general in 1864.
He was a strong believer in the benefits that could be derived from a British American union such as free trade and the construction of the Intercontinental Railway. Henry was a delegate to all three Confederation Conferences, and upon approval by the union in the Spring of 1866, he travelled to the London Conference as part of the delegation mandated to compose the legislation. The Nova Scotia delegates voted to accept the Québec Resolutions into the British North America Act but Henry objected to the limitation on the number of Senate seats. He also supported the unsuccessful efforts to have the existence of Roman Catholic separate schools entrenched in the Act. He was one of the attorneys general who helped frame the language. However, it is an unproved tradition that he actually drafted the BNA Act.
After Confederation, he suffered defeat in his own district for the first time in 24 years. He returned to private practice in Halifax and was elected mayor of the city in 1870. Although he was denied a judgeship in Nova Scotia, Henry was one of the first appointed to the newly created Supreme Court of Canada in 1875. He died in Ottawa, Ontario.
- Allison, David & Tuck, Clyde Edwin, The History of Nova Scotia, Volume III. Part 1 (1916, A. Bowen & Co., Halifax).
-  Library and Archives Canada.
-  Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, University of Toronto Press. 1979–2005.
-  Supreme Court of Canada website.
- Library and Archives Canada.
- Henry House National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 9 March 2013.