Gordon Henderson (lawyer)

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Gordon Fripp Henderson
51st President of the Canadian Bar Association
In office
Preceded by Thomas J. Walsh, Q.C.
Succeeded by A. William Cox, Q.C., LL.D.
Chancellor of the University of Ottawa
In office
Preceded by Maurice Sauvé
Succeeded by Huguette Labelle
Personal details
Born (1912-04-17)April 17, 1912
Ottawa, Ontario
Died August 17, 1993(1993-08-17) (aged 81)
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater B.A., University of Toronto
LL.B., Osgoode Hall Law School
Profession Lawyer

Gordon Fripp Henderson, CC QC (April 17, 1912 – August 17, 1993) was a Canadian intellectual property lawyer who joined the law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in 1937, and later became its chairman. He was known for his advocacy on intellectual property matters as well as his involvement in intellectual property organizations throughout his career. He served as president of the Canadian Bar Association and was a Companion of the Order of Canada.


Early life and education[edit]

Henderson was born in Ottawa, Ontario on April 17, 1912. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1934 and graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1937.[1]

Law career[edit]


Upon his call to the bar, Henderson joined the firm of Henderson & Herridge (which later became Gowling Lafleur Henderson).[2] Within 3 years, and before the age of 28, Henderson had appeared successfully on two separate occasions at the Supreme Court of Canada.[3] Throughout his career, Henderson developed a reputation for litigation in all areas of law, especially in intellectual property. Ian Scott, former Attorney General of Ontario, called him "the best all-round lawyer the profession has produced since the War."[3] By the time of his death, Henderson appeared as counsel in nearly 400 reported cases, including 90 before the Supreme Court of Canada.[3]

Professional associations[edit]

Henderson was also an active participant in professional associations both within and outside the legal community. He established the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada[4] and was the President of the Canadian Bar Association from 1979 to 1980.[5]

Henderson was instrumental in the formation of SOCAN, a major Canadian copyright collective, as its lawyer and later as Chairman. In addition, he helped found the Canadian Law Information Council.[2]

He was also the founding editor of the Canadian Patent Reporter (CPR) (which he started in 1941).[2][4] The CPR was one of the first continuous case reporters for Canadian intellectual property law decisions, and remains a leading reporter today. For most of its existence, Henderson wrote virtually every headnote and comment in the publication.[3]

In his later years, Henderson served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ottawa, and from 1991 until his death in 1993, he was Chancellor of the university.

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1977, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1988.[6] He received honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and the Law Society of Upper Canada. He also served as Honorary Consul to Liberia in Canada, a position that brought diplomatic privileges. He also received the B'nai B'rith Award of Merit.


Henderson was a philanthropist, humanitarian and civic leader in his native Ottawa, having founded or lent his support to numerous causes. He was the founder of the Community Foundation of Ottawa and the Ottawa School Breakfasts Program. His decades of service to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation were recognized by the establishment of the Gordon F. Henderson Chair in Leadership to be held by the CEO of the Institute. The University of Ottawa recognized Henderson's leadership through an endowment supporting the Gordon F. Henderson Chair in Human Rights.


  1. ^ Kieran Simpson (1990). Canadian Who's Who. 
  2. ^ a b c The Harold G. Fox Moot Canadian Intellectual Property Moot: The Gordon F. Henderson Award
  3. ^ a b c d Henderson, Gordon F., ed., Trade-marks Law of Canada (Toronto: Carswell, 1993) at xlvii.
  4. ^ a b gordon f. henderson/ SOCAN foundation copyright competition 2009
  5. ^ Canadian Bar Association: Past CBA Presidents
  6. ^ Order of Canada citation