John Erskine Read

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John Erskine Read
John Erskine Read portrait.png
3rd Dean of Dalhousie Law School
In office
Preceded by Donald Alexander MacRae
Succeeded by Sidney Earle Smith
Member of the International Court of Justice
In office
Personal details
Born (1888-07-05)July 5, 1888
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Died December 23, 1973(1973-12-23) (aged 85)
Toronto, Ontario

John Erskine Read, OC (July 5, 1888 – December 23, 1973) was a Canadian lawyer, civil servant, and the only Canadian judge elected to the International Court of Justice.


Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Read graduated from the Dalhousie Law School in 1909. He completed post-graduate studies at Columbia University before receiving a Rhodes Scholarship. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Civil Law degree from University College, Oxford. In 1913, he was called to the Nova Scotia bar and practiced law with the firm of Harris, Henry, Rogers, and Harris. During World War I, he served with the Canadian Field Artillery where he was wounded and achieved the rank of Major.[1]


After the war, in 1920, he joined the Faculty of Law at Dalhousie University. From 1924 to 1929, he was the Dean of the faculty. In 1929, he was appointed Legal Advisor of the Department of External Affairs and rose to become a Deputy Undersecretary of State. While Legal Advisor, he was heavily involved with the Trail Smelter dispute. In 1946, he was elected a member of the International Court of Justice. He was re-appointed for a second term and served until 1958. Returning to Canada, he taught in the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa.[1]


In 1967, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his services in the profession of law". In 1968, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Alberta.[2] He was the first recipient of the Canadian Council on International Law John E. Read Medal.[3]


  1. ^ a b International Law Association (2004). The Canadian yearbook of international law: Annuaire canadien de droit international. UBC Press. pp. 3–29. ISBN 0-7748-0127-1. 
  2. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients (1960s)". University of Alberta. 
  3. ^ "John E. Read Medal". Canadian Council on International. 

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