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VOL. 78 PART 4 JULY 2020
mark of his professional life carried into his personal relationships and
made him a precious friend to many.
In the last decades of his life, Ted became notorious for saying, “This
assignment will be my last.” If he believed that, nobody around him did.
When it became clear that there would never be a “retirement” party, his
friends raised funds, hired an author and found a publisher for the biography
that became The Mighty Hughes: From Prairie Lawyer to Western
Canada’s Moral Compass. Ted balked at the title but gave in to the publisher’s
Ted agreed to the biography, by former journalist Craig McInnes, because
he wanted to preserve his history as much for his grandchildren as for anyone
else. But it is a superb read for anyone interested in the political history
of B.C. over recent decades, and a remarkable legal career.
Ted was born in 1927 in Saskatoon and his memories were of an idyllic
childhood. As a student, Ted excelled at public speaking and debate. In 1950
he met Helen, the sparkling daughter of the new dean of Saskatoon’s Anglican
Cathedral, and he knew immediately that they would marry. They did,
as soon as Ted had his legal career underway.
He began in a one-man practice in North Battleford but soon joined the
Saskatoon firm that became Francis, Woods, Gauley and Hughes. Ted did
crop-share agreements, contracts for rural credit unions and capital murder
trials. He enjoyed his clients and his colleagues but quickly learned that he
had no taste for the business side of law.
His interest in politics, however, lasted his lifetime. From his student
days, he was a Progressive Conservative, with the emphasis on Progressive.
At 32 he ran for the provincial legislature, knowing he had no chance of
winning. He was right: Tommy Douglas swept the province with the promise
of government-funded health insurance.
In those early days Ted became friends with the Saskatchewan lawyer
who became prime minister in 1957, John Diefenbaker. Their friendship
deepened over the years and for decades Ted was the last surviving executor
of Diefenbaker’s estate.
Before his 35th birthday Ted was appointed to the District Court of
Saskatchewan. Twelve years later he went to the Court of Queen’s Bench,
where he sat for six years. Until the last couple of years, Ted loved being a
He never second-guessed his decisions, even if he wasn’t always upheld
on appeal. Once, he had overturned an obscenity conviction because the
movie involved had been approved by the province’s film classification
board. When the Court of Appeal sent the case back to him to determine