Wallbridge, Lewis

Lewis Wallbridge was born in Belleville on November 27, 1816. He was admitted to the bar of Upper Canada in 1839 and was appointed as a Q.C. in 1856. Wallbridge served as a member of Parliament for the riding of Hastings South from 1857 in the parliament of the United Canadas and from 1867 to 1878 in the House of Commons, Ottawa. He served as Solicitor General in the Macdonald Sicotte government and was appointed speaker of the house in 1863. Wallbridge was a member of L.O.L. No. 274 in Belleville.

After his political career had ended Wallbridge let it be known that he would like an appointment as a judge. In 1882 Sir John A. Macdonald had him appointed as the Chief Justice of Manitoba as a patronage plum for his years of service to the Conservative Party. A humorous event between Mackenzie Bowell and Wallbridge then took place. Wallbridge had bad teeth, several were missing and those that were left looked terrible. Macdonald was concerned that his dental problem might lower the dignity of the Manitoba Bench. He asked Wallbridge’s friend, Mackenzie Bowell to find a way to try and get Wallbridge to have his teeth fixed.

Bowell tells the story:

“The great question of teeth or no teeth, I find, is somewhat difficult to solve. Whilst I agree with you that it would add much to the appearance, and perhaps dignity, of the Bench, if the Chief Justice had a mouth of good teeth, still when you consider the extreme egotism of the Chief Justice of Manitoba, and the difficulty of approaching him upon a subject of such gnashing importance, you will see the difficulty of accomplishing the object you have in view. However I set three or four at him, our friend Dan Murphy among the number - who said that he would induce Wallbridge to consent provided I would "pledge a quarter's salary in advance which of course I did; still I have very great doubt of his succeeding. The people, and the Bar, of Belleville gave him a very flattering reception last night, presented him with a gold watch and other articles to adorn his western Wigwam; and he was as proud and strutted about the platform like a Peacock with his tail spread.”

Wallbridge went on to have a very successful career as Chief Justice of Manitoba and he died at Winnipeg on October 19, 1887.

Source: Canadian Orange Historical Site

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