THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 4 J U L Y 2 0 1 7 619
the space through a door any passing member of the public could have
opened, the top half of which framed a stained glass window on which had
been carefully painted the name of Mr. Justice David R. Verchere. Verchere
was one of the trial court’s true characters, loved by all. His visitors went
through the outer door I have described, pressed themselves against the wall
to avoid bumping into me, and entered, through an interior door, his beautifully
appointed “corner-office” chambers. (Only Madam Justice Newbury
now has chambers that could have competed with Verchere’s.) He was in his
mid-sixties when I was around, but at heart he was much, much younger.
There was always a hop in his step. He had a full head of pure white hair. He
had been a Kamloops lawyer (except during his war service) and a law partner
of the esteemed E. Davie Fulton, Q.C., who himself joined the court.
Verchere (great uncle to Karen Dickson of Miller Thomson) was an
exceptionally good writer. His judgments were lively and entertaining,
almost conversational. Much of what he wrote (and he wrote by hand) came
out near perfect in a single go. It was said that appeals from his judgments
were allowed less frequently than were appeals from the judgments of any
other judge on the court. In his retirement, during which he was as
sprightly as ever, he wrote the court’s history.3
Mr. Justice Verchere and I shared a Brown Betty teapot and a lot of interesting
conversation. He was a relentless talker (especially in court, to the
consternation of counsel trying to make their points). He was intrigued by
the story of Kim Philby, the spy for Russia. He liked to chat about shooting.
He had access to lands in eastern Canada where he and his friends and family
shot birds. Verchere’s son, Bruce, was a leading Canadian tax lawyer.
Sadly (it was after Verchere died), the son committed suicide, shooting himself
with a rifle, reportedly as a result of complications resulting in part
from his having taken up with the younger daughter of the novelist Arthur
Hailey, who was one of Bruce’s clients.4 I met Bruce once in my anteroom.
His father was very proud of him.
Down the public hallway from Mr. Justice Verchere’s chambers were the
chambers of Mr. Justice John Somerset Aikins. Like Verchere, he was a true
gentleman. He came from a prominent family with roots in Winnipeg. His
great uncle, Sir James, had founded the Canadian Bar Association. Aikins, our
Aikins, was born to orchardists in Naramata, had studied at Bishop’s College
in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and had taken his law degree from
Oxford in the 1930s. He practised as a lawyer in Penticton when he was not
away at war. He was very thoughtful. He was a natural judge who epitomized
fairness, but he found judging hard, particularly after he accepted an appointment
as a justice of the Court of Appeal, where he agonized over every deci-