Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GOWAN, James Robert, jurist, born in County Wexford, Ireland, 22 December 1817. His parents emigrated to Upper Canada in 1821. The son studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and in 1843 was elected judge of the judicial district of Sirecoe, Upper Canada. He became associate judge of queen's bench and common pleas in 1857, and chairman of the board of County judges, which regulates the procedure of the division courts. He aided in preparing the bills to make the criminal law uniform in Canada, embodying a consolidation of the criminal laws in force in the several confederated provinces, with valuable additions and improvements in procedure, which were enrolled on the statute-book of 1869, and are now in force. In 1873 he was one of the royal commissioners to investigate charges against the ministry in connection with the Canada Pacific railroad contract. When the consolidation of the statute law for Ontario was determined in 1876, Judge Gowan was appointed with other judges on a commission issued for that purpose, and rendered important service, for which he received a gold medal from the government of Ontario. He retired from the bench in 1883. He has been interested in educational matters, serving as chairman of the board of public instruction from its foundation, and for many years as chairman of the senior high-school board of the County of Simeoe. He was appointed to the senate in 1885. In 1855 he established the first legal periodical in his province, " The Upper Canada Law Journal," to which he was a frequent contributor. The degree of LL. D. was conferred upon him by Queen's College in 1883. " The Addresses and Proceedings in Connection with the Retirement from the Bench of His Honor Judge James Robert Gowan," with selections from printed matter regarding his career, have been published for private circulation (1884).
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