John Josiah Robinette
John Josiah Robinette (1906 - 1996)
C.C., Q.C., B.A., D.C.L., LL.D.
Fifth Chancellor (1984 to 1987)
John J. Robinette, one of Canada’s leading constitutional and criminal lawyers, served both on Trent University’s Board and as its Chancellor. Born in Toronto in 1906, Dr. Robinette was educated at the University of Toronto Schools, the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. He taught law at Osgoode Hall (1929-32) and was editor of The Ontario Law Reports (1935-40). In 1958 he was appointed Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada. He was a member of the bars of Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. He was appointed King's Counsel in 1944, made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1973, and held honorary degrees from several Canadian universities including Queens University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto, and the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Robinette had an enormous impact on the evolution and interpretation of law. During a long and illustrious career, he practiced in many areas of law. In the 1940s, Dr. Robinette became famous when he served as defense counsel in notorious criminal cases including the Crown vs. Evelyn Dick murder trial in which his client was granted an acquittal. In the 1950s he shifted away from criminal law towards civil litigation, appellate and Supreme Court cases. He represented the federal government when its right to repatriate the Constitution without the consent of the provinces was challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada. He also successfully defended the federal government's imposition of wage and price controls in the mid-1970s. Dr. Robinette successfully represented groups opposing construction of the Pickering airport and an expressway into downtown Toronto.
Dr. Robinette was a founding director of the Advocates' Society, and one of the original sponsors of Trent University. He died in November 1996 at the age of 90.