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the 1830s her Ormiston ancestors immigrated from Scotland. They started
farming in the Oshawa area and established themselves as leading pioneers.
William Ormiston became the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of
Canada and one of the moving forces behind Ontario’s public school system.
Both her parents taught in that same public school system her ancestor
A lack of education caused her Ormiston grandmother to value it highly.
The Great Depression ended her schooling at grade 9. She impressed upon
her children and grandchildren, particularly the women, the importance of
education. The seeds she planted grew. All her children attended university
and two of her granddaughters became lawyers.
The other side of Judge Ormiston’s family showed mettle too. The
Kohlers emigrated from post–World War II. Germany to Ontario. The
wounds of the war were still fresh; in Oshawa, prejudice against German
immigrants made fitting in difficult. Andrea’s mother retained the courage
to move to strange lands and live in foreign countries. She currently teaches
English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Andrea’s lengthy university studies cost money. Andrea worked and
saved throughout childhood to pay for university. But savings, teachers’
salaries, scholarships and bursaries go only so far. And like her father before
her, Andrea maintained one or more jobs throughout her university career.
When other students went partying, she served tables. When money ran
low, she made do with less.
When she finished her master’s degree, Andrea did not know that there
was lawyer lurking inside her. She spent a year serving tables and saving
tips. But when she got the LSAT results, she had options. At the time, waitressing
was fun and easy; law would require dedication and hard work. True
to her nature, she had the courage to take the more challenging path.
She loved the intellectual challenges that the law presented to her. She
took particular interest in feminism and Aboriginal law. And the school
offered an opportunity to visit a strange land. Naturally she took it. In her
third year of law school at the University of Ottawa, she participated in an
exchange program with UBC, which also showed her the joys of our
Andrea graduated believing that she could always be an academic. Fortunately,
she clerked in Brampton for the Ontario Superior Court. There,
under the tutelage of great judges such as Durno, O’Connor and Wien, she
discovered the enormous responsibility and humanity of the courtroom.
She claims she dreaded public speaking and advocacy. The great Justice
Casey Hill convinced her that if she did not litigate, she would never have