Arthur Lewis Sifton's diary, May 18 and May 20, 1904
Legal Archives Society of Alberta

The Hon. Arthur Lewis Sifton was born in St. John's, Middlesex County, Ontario on October 26, 1859. He attended Victoria College in Toronto, a Methodist institution, and earned his BA in 1880, and later an MA and LLB in 1888. He was admitted to the Manitoba Bar in 1883 and practised in Brandon before moving to Prince Albert. Sifton moved to Calgary in 1889 and in 1901 was with the firm of Sifton, Short and Stuart, often acting as Crown Prosecutor. He was named King's Council in 1903 and was appointed Chief Justice of the North-West Territories that same year. He became the first Chief Justice of Alberta in 1907.

Sifton's circuit as Chief Justice (1903-1910) took him from his residence in Calgary to Maple Creek, Lethbridge, Cardston, Pincher Creek, Macleod and Medicine Hat. He occasionally travelled north to sit at Red Deer, Edmonton and Wetaskiwin. As a judge, Sifton was impassive, and often gave his decisions immediately, without a recess. In larger cases, however, the law in his judgements was more an instrument of common sense infused more with a strong dose of social morality than a study of authorities.

Pages 86 and 87 from Notebook 6 refer to the theft trial of R. v Charles McLaughlin, May 1904. Sifton lists characteristics of the the defendants including literacy, temperance and religion. Francis Marret was foun not guilty 'because insane' while McLaughlin received seven years at Stony Mountain penitentiary.


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