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Brief History of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench

When the province of Manitoba was created, the Manitoba Act provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court, which was to exercise both original (trial) and appellate (appeal) jurisdictions.  Until it became operational, however, that authority continued to be exercised by the existing General Quarterly Court created in the 1830s by the Hudson’s Bay Company.  The Act also replaced the old Petty Courts of Assiniboia with five Courts of Petty Sessions.  Francis G. Johnson was hired to supervise this interim judicial system as head of the General Quarterly Court. 

In 1872, the federal government changed the name of the Supreme Court of Manitoba, before it actually began operations, to the Court of Queen’s Bench.  At the same time it established a system of County Courts, to be presided over by justices of the Queen’s Bench, to replace the Courts of Petty Sessions.  The first Chief Justice of Manitoba was Alexander Morris

In 1881, Manitoba was divided into three judicial districts (Central, Eastern and Western), and a county court judge was appointed for each.  The province’s first county court judge, Joseph Ryan, was appointed to the Central Judicial District in August 1882.  The County Courts amalgamated with the Court of Queen’s Bench in 1984.

The appellate function of the Court of Queen’s Bench was removed when the Manitoba Court of Appeal was created in 1906. 

Sources: Dale Brawn, The Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba 1870-1950[MRB1] : A Biographical History (Canada: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 2006) and Philip C. Locke, “County Court Judges” (1950) 22 Manitoba Bar News 26.

Information on this page last updated on September 1, 2016