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VOL. 76 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2018
An appraisal of Bill would not be complete without some reference to his
love of animals, and in particular his dogs. His prized hunting Labrador, Lincoln,
died when struck by a car. It is sometimes said that one gets only one
good dog, and it appeared Bill had his with Lincoln. The saying did not
prove true, however. Bill befriended Charlie, a little waif rescued by Judy.
Thereafter, on his return home from a Canadian judge’s executive conference
in Nova Scotia, Bill proudly appeared with a new car only to be
trumped by Judy who had found a new Golden Retriever puppy, Hobbs.
Hobbs would follow Bill and Judy to their smaller home on Cultus Lake.
The dog joined them both morning and night on their walks. All the dogs
were close to Bill, though never joining him on the bench as some judges of
an earlier era had allowed!
Justice Davies was based in Chilliwack. He, of course, heard all manner
of cases across the province. Bill commanded great respect in his courtroom
wherever he sat and yet was regarded with warmth and without fear by
counsel who appeared before him. His service to the judiciary was extensive;
he was president of the Canadian Superior Court Judge’s Association
in 1984 and 1985 and served as a member of the executive from 1978 to 1986.
He was instrumental in the procurement of health benefits for Canadian
As a judge Bill sat throughout British Columbia, but also in the Northwest
Territories as they were fully comprised in those days. His experience in
northern Canada made him profoundly concerned for the well-being and
particular challenges of Aboriginal Canadians.
Following his retirement from the bench in 1999, he was appointed
In 2002 Bill was appointed to head what became known as the Davies
Commission Inquiry into the death of Frank Paul, the homeless Aboriginal
man who died of hypothermia after police left him in an alley in Vancouver.
Although Mr. Paul was its subject, the inquiry heard over 68 days of evidence
and considered a broad examination of institutional policies and procedures
of the government and police as they related to the circumstances
of homeless, chronic alcoholics. The Attorney General of B.C. at the time,
Wally Oppal, Q.C., recognized Bill’s judicial experience with people in both
urban settings and the most remote parts of our country. This made Bill the
ideal head of the commission. Bill’s compassion and humanity pervade the
lengthy report and his concern for institutional justice is apparent, but his
attendance to the fundamental concerns and the effects of the legal system
on a single individual were never lost on him.
In the preface to his report, Alone and Cold, Bill wrote: