Britton Bath Osler
|Britton Bath Osler|
19 June 1839|
Bond Head, Upper Canada
|Died||5 February 1901
Atlantic City, New Jersey
|Relatives||Edmund Boyd Osler, brother
Sir William Osler, brother
The older of three famous brothers (the other two being Edmund Boyd Osler and Sir William Osler), he was born in Bond Head, Canada West. His father, Featherstone Lake Osler (1805-1895), the son of a shipowner at Falmouth, Cornwall, was a former Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and served on H.M.S. Victory. In 1831 he was invited to serve on H.M.S. Beagle as the science officer on Charles Darwin's historic voyage to the Galápagos Islands, but he turned it down as his father was dying. As a teenager Featherstone Osler was aboard H.M.S. Sappho when it was nearly destroyed by Atlantic storms and left adrift for weeks. Serving in the Navy, he was shipwrecked off Barbados. In 1837 he retired from the Navy and emigrated to Canada, becoming a 'saddle-bag minister' in rural Upper Canada. On arriving in Canada he and his bride (Ellen Free Pickton) were nearly ship-wrecked again on Egg Island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Britton's great grandfather, Edward Osler, was variously described as either a merchant seaman or a pirate, and one of Britton's uncles, a medical officer in the Navy, wrote the Life of Lord Exmouth and the poem The Voyage.
He first rose to national prominence by helping to secure the conviction of Louis Riel on charges of treason following the North-West Rebellion of 1885. He subsequently represented the government of Canada in arbitrations with the Canadian Pacific Railway arising from construction contracts carried out by contractor Andrew Onderdonk. He is also noted for his role as a prosecutor in numerous lurid murder trials, including that of Reginald Birchall.
B.B. Osler is also known for founding the law firm McCarthy, Osler, Hoskin & Creelman (later known as McCarthy, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt) with D'Alton McCarthy, the predecessor to today's firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt. Approximately 15 years after D'Alton McCarthy's death, his son and two nephews split from McCarthy, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt to begin their own firm, the predecessor to the firm known today as McCarthy Tétrault.
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