Allan Wachowich

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Colonel, The Honourable Allan H.J. Wachowich B.A., LL.B. (born March 8, 1935 in Edmonton, Alberta) is the former Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta.

Early life[edit]

Born Allan Harvey Joseph Wachowich[1] to Polish parents Philip and Nancy. His family was one of the first five Polish families to immigrate to Alberta in 1944, setting down in Opal, Alberta, but moving to Edmonton when Allan was nine years old. His parents had eight children of which Allan was the seventh.[2] He has an older brother and six sisters.

Wachowich attended St. Joseph's High School, played for the basketball team, and was elected president of his graduating class.[3] A Catholic, Wachowich served as an altar boy at St. Joseph's Basilica and originally intended to become a priest.


Wachowich received his Bachelor of Arts in 1957 and his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1958, both from the University of Alberta. He was called to Alberta Bar in 1959, the Northwest Territories Bar in 1963, and the Yukon Bar in 1964. He founded the firm of Kosowan, Wachowich and was a partner there from 1959 until his first judicial appointment in 1974.

He was appointed a Judge of the District Court of Alberta in 1974 by the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau and then a Judge of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta when the district and supreme courts merged in 1979. He was appointed Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench in 1993 and Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench on January 24, 2001, by Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien,[4][5] following the retirement of Chief Justice W. Kenneth Moore, QC.[6] He has admitted over 600 lawyers to the Alberta Bar, a record.[7]

He tendered his resignation as Chief Justice with effect on October 1, 2009. He then assumed supernumerary (part-time) status with the Court until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in March 2010.[8][9]

Community Activities[edit]

He has served on the boards of many religious organizations, including the Western Catholic Reporter, the Friars, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Catholic Charities, and he founded the St. Thomas More Catholic Lawyers' Guild in 1963.[3] He was president of the Mu Theta Chapter of the Zeta Psi Fraternity.[citation needed]

On 28 Sept 2008 he accepted an Honorary Colonel appointment to 15 (Edmonton) Field Ambulance for an initial term of three years. As Colonel, the Honorable Allan Wachowich, he has attended military functions with his unit and attended national meetings of Honorary Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels. 15 (Edmonton) Field Ambulance is a Reserve Force unit of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group.[10]

Prior to his judicial appointments, he was an active campaigner for the Liberal Party of Canada.[11]

In 2012, Wachowich received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Alberta as a doctor in LL.D and now has the designation of Queen's Counsel in Alberta.

Family and Personal Life[edit]

He married his wife Elizabeth (Bette) Louise Byers in 1959 in Ponoka, Alberta, and together they have four children: David, Patrick, Jane, and Nancy. Two of his children are lawyers: David Joseph Wachowich is a Calgary lawyer and partner at Fraser Milner Casgrain[3] and Jane Ann Wachowich is Executive Director of Donor Relations of Cornerstone Youth Centre [12] and a pro bono member of the Alberta Law Society. Dr. Nancy Wachowich is a lecturer in Social Anthropology at University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Allan and Bette have eight grandchildren.

His older brother, Ed Wachowich, was the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta until his retirement in 1999.[13]

In jest, Wachowich calls himself "the Polish Prince". He plays hockey and baseball, is an avid golfer, and an Edmonton Eskimos and Edmonton Oilers fan.


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