Each year since 1956 the Law Society has held a Remembrance Day service at Osgoode Hall. The Benchers had honoured members of the legal profession and law students who had died on military service in the First and Second World Wars by erecting memorials inscribed with their names, but there was no annual service until the Treasurer and Benchers seized on the proposal of Mr. Justice Colin W.G. Gibson in 1956.
In Oct. 1956, Justice Gibson, a much-decorated veteran of the First World War, wrote to Treasurer Cyril Carson to pass along a suggestion of several Judges and lawyers that a memorial service should be held each year at Osgoode Hall "in honour of those whose names are perpetuated on the memorial." "It seems somewhat strange," Justice Gibson continued, "that the memorial should be erected but ignored each year when other services are being held throughout this country." The Benchers agreed and a small committee, assisted by the Treasurer and two Judges, "arranged a simple and dignified order of service" that was held on Friday, Nov. 9th at 10:45 a.m.
At that first service, the Treasurer and Benchers met in the Benchers' Library and proceeded to the First World War memorial, where the Treasurer placed a wreath. They then moved along to the rotunda, where the service was held near the Second World War memorial.
The Treasurer remarked that 113 lawyers and student members of the Law Society of Upper Canada gave their lives in the First World War, and 50 gave their lives in the Second World War. The service, he noted, was in remembrance and honour of them. Two prominent lawyers who were war veterans read the Rolls of Honour, after which Treasurer Carson placed a wreath before the memorial. A bugler from the 48th Highlanders sounded the Last Post and two minutes silence followed. The bugler then sounded Reveille and the service closed with Acting Chief Justice Robert Everett Laidlaw saying the Lord's Prayer.
The Minutes of Convocation for Nov. 1956 noted that the service received "a very fine tribute in the Globe and Mail, with a front page photograph of the Treasurer placing the wreath before the memorial."
Each year since then, the Remembrance Day Service has taken place at Osgoode Hall, alternating between the two war memorials. This year marks the first occasion in almost half a century that the service is being held elsewhere in Osgoode Hall because of construction in the rotunda and the Great Library. The "simple and dignified" format of the first service has been repeated each year since 1956.
For more, view our virtual exhibition about the First World War memorial in the Great Library.