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May Advocate 2017

434 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE Gowan became a partner of Robson, Alexander and Guest and was trained at the feet of Ernie Alexander. After several incarnations, that firm became Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang. In 1983 Gowan left the firm and moved into the Bentall Centre to join Owen Bird where he was able to concentrate his practice in the emerging field of broadcast law, an area in which Gowan was a pioneer and leader. His legal acumen was recognized in 1984 with his Queen’s Counsel appointment. Gowan believed strongly in the importance of giving back to society, and he did so generously. He was instrumental in the development of Grouse Mountain, the establishment of Pacific Rim National Park and the building of Vancouver’s Canada Place. He was an active volunteer and an advocate for education, serving as chairman of York House School, president of the World Federation for Mental Health and chair of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada. Gowan left Owen Bird in 1987 and lent his talents to two different investment management firms, both of which enjoyed significant success. In 1995 he was invested in the Order of the Knights of St. John and in 2002 he became a Member of the Order of Canada. In addition to all that he achieved in politics, law and business, he was also active in his children’s lives. As father to Martin, Alex, Marni, Doug and Arthur, he sought to instill in his children a similar passion for life. In my youth I spent many hours in and around his family. He commanded attention and never suffered fools and halfwits. It was with great trepidation, then, that I met with him in the summer of my second year of law school. Wearing what was likely the only jacket that I owned, I met Gowan for lunch to ask him for advice about where I should apply for articles. He listened to me attentively and patiently. Then he took my proffered list of potential firms and crumpled it up and threw it across the restaurant. “You will spend more time in your office awake than you will at home for the next ten years,” he said. He then advised me that I should apply to a firm with a healthy ratio of talented practitioners to difficult people (he used more colourful words). He suggested to me that his firm had one such difficult person, but that he was submitting his resignation from the firm after lunch. In my opinion, what the firm lost was a very talented practitioner. I ended up articling at Owen Bird, and I remain grateful to him for his advice and counsel. Gowan passed away peacefully at his home in Vancouver with family by his side, at the age of 87. As members of the legal profession, we can learn much from his life. Harvey Delany


May Advocate 2017
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