William Alexander Henry

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William Alexander Henry
William Alexander Henry.jpg
Member of the General Assembly of Nova Scotia
In office
1840–1843
In office
1847–1967
Mayor of Halifax
In office
1870–1971
Preceded by Stephen Tobin
Succeeded by William Dunbar
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
In office
September 30, 1875 – May 3, 1888
Nominated by Alexander Mackenzie
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Christopher Salmon Patterson
Personal details
Born (1816-12-30)December 30, 1816
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Died May 3, 1888(1888-05-03) (aged 71)
Ottawa, Ontario
Profession Lawyer, Judge

William Alexander Henry (December 30, 1816 – May 3, 1888) was a Canadian lawyer, politician, judge and one of the Fathers of Confederation.

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

Henry House in Halifax, which served as Henry's residence from 1854 to 1864, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1969 due in part to its association with Henry.[6]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Allison, David & Tuck, Clyde Edwin, The History of Nova Scotia, Volume III. Part 1 (1916, A. Bowen & Co., Halifax).
  2. ^ [1] Library and Archives Canada.
  3. ^ [2] Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, University of Toronto Press. 1979–2005.
  4. ^ [3] Supreme Court of Canada website.
  5. ^ Library and Archives Canada.
  6. ^ Henry House National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 9 March 2013.