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Society of Alberta

Archives Unleashed 2007 Virtual Exhibit

In 1959, a lack of legal aid meant no defense lawyers were available for accused persons residing north of the 60th parallel. In response, Judge Sissons presented a challenge to then Edmonton attorney William G. Morrow that he could not resist. Morrow offered to act as a volunteer defense counsel during April 1960. He appeared on ten cases in eleven days, it was the longest circuit Judge Sisson ever made. Starting from Yellowknife, the court worked itself down the Mackenzie River to Aklavik and Inuvik, cross to Sachs Harbour on Banks Island, from there through Cambridge Bay, Repulse Bay, Coral Harbour, Cape Dorset, and ending at Frobisher Bay; then back through before finally reaching Yellowknife. When the circuit was completed, an excess of 6,000 miles were traveled, all in a single engine Otter equipped with skis.

This photo of two polar bear cubs was taken at Sachs Harbour on Bank's Island in April 1960. W.G. Morrow assumed the post of judge of the Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories on August 26, 1966. During his tenure, Morrow was involved in several landmark northern cases, involving the complexities of international wildlife legislation, native hunting rights and witchcraft.

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From William G. Morrow,
pictorial history of the N.W.T.,
accession number 2000-003.