BROWN, THOMAS DOWRICK, educator, lawyer, and editor; b. 27 Jan. 1875 in Port Hope, Ont., son of John Brown and Elizabeth Jane Dowrick; m. 18 Aug. 1909 Eva (Evelyn) Jane Roberts in Cobourg, Ont.; they had no children; d. 5 Jan. 1931 in Regina.
John Brown, a carpenter, brought his wife and their four children from Cornwall, England, to Canada, where their youngest child, Thomas Dowrick Brown, was born. He was educated in public schools in Ontario and in Killarney, Man., his parents having moved to that province in 1889. He went on to study at Wesley College at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and took a ba with highest honours in 1900; Brown also held a first-class professional teaching certificate and for two years was a teacher and principal at Oak Lake Intermediate School in Manitoba.
After relocating in 1902 to Moosomin (Sask.), he studied law with James Thomas Brown, a future chief justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Saskatchewan. Called to the bar of the North-West Territories on 26 Dec. 1905, Brown worked with his former preceptor until 1907. In that year he moved to Regina. He would practise with the firm Balfour, Martin, Casey, and Brown, and would later be a senior member of Brown, Thomson, McLean, and Davidson in the same city.
As a leading trial lawyer, Brown became a sought-after counsel. A contemporary description attributes to him a solid grasp of legal principles and a “sober, clear judgment, which makes him a formidable adversary in legal combat.” He was deaf, however, and exasperated a number of judges by failing to respond to questions he could not hear. Named a kc in 1914, he would be made director of prosecutions under the Saskatchewan Temperance Act in 1920. The Canadian annual review would note, in 1922, that there had been 810 complaints during the year, and 720 convictions were secured.
In 1907 Brown became the first examiner for the recently founded Law Society of Saskatchewan, a position he would hold for six years. On 4 Sept. 1913 he was appointed dean when the society established a Regina law school. Named in honour of the province’s first chief justice, Edward Ludlow Wetmore*, Wetmore Hall was a professional law school strongly oriented towards producing lawyers for office practice. At about the same time the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon created its own college of law, and the two institutions opened their doors to students in the fall term of 1913.
Students at Wetmore Hall followed a demanding three-year curriculum, but did not receive an llb upon completion of their studies; successful results on their examinations, however, led directly to admission to the provincial bar. Conversely, students at the university in Saskatoon did receive an llb but then had to pass the exams administered by the law society before being allowed to practise. Since the two schools’ objectives were essentially similar, the unequal treatment of graduates was invidious, and on 20 March 1919 it was agreed to centralize Saskatchewan legal studies in Saskatoon. Students who had begun their studies at Wetmore Hall would be awarded an llb after concluding their final year at the university. The Regina institution closed its doors on 21 June 1922. The law society had found the school an expensive undertaking and the availability of faculty members with the necessary expertise had been problematic. Nevertheless, during its brief history Wetmore Hall had been noted for having able lecturers – Brown among them – as well as for producing outstanding graduates such as Adrien Doiron.
Brown became a member of the University of Saskatchewan senate in 1916; he also served on Regina College’s board of governors for many years. He helped edit several volumes of the Territories Law Reports and the Saskatchewan Law Reports, an annual publication of important legal decisions rendered in the superior courts. From its inception in 1911 until his death 20 years later, Brown served as associate editor (Saskatchewan) for the Western Weekly Reports, a valuable source of case law.
A Liberal, Brown was active in his community, becoming well known as a public speaker. He and his wife gave much time to the Red Cross Society, and they shared a passion for motoring and golf. Thomas also belonged to the Wascana Country Club and the Assiniboia Club. The Browns were Methodists who became members of the United Church of Canada, and they were involved in the activities of their local congregation, he as a member of the quarterly board, and she as a supporter of its various societies.
Thomas Dowrick Brown died in hospital after several weeks of illness. Contemporaries who knew him within and outside his profession offered tributes to his work and character. Everett Clayton Leslie, then president of the Regina Bar Association, remarked that “the Regina Bar [has] lost one of its outstanding members.” Brown’s contribution to the legal profession was recognized by the establishment of the Thomas Dowrick Brown Prize for the most outstanding law graduate at the University of Saskatchewan. The Reverend William Edgar MacNiven of the Metropolitan United Church described him as “one of the finest Christian gentlemen” he had known.
The DCB wishes to thank Mr Iain Mentiplay for his assistance in verifying some of the information in the text.
AO, RG 80-2-0-69, no.13650; RG 80-5-0-398, no.15470. Leader-Post (Regina), 6 Jan. 1931. John Hawkes, The story of Saskatchewan and its people (3v., Regina, 1924), 3. W. H. McConnell, Prairie justice (Calgary, 1980). Pioneers and prominent people of Saskatchewan (Winnipeg and Toronto, 1924). Saskatchewan Law Reports (Toronto and Calgary), 1914/15–1921/22. Territories Law Reports (Toronto), 1892–1907. Western Weekly Reports (Calgary), 1911–31. Who’s who in Canada, 1925/26.
© 2015–2023 University of Toronto/Université Laval
Cite This Article
Howard McConnell, “BROWN, THOMAS DOWRICK,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 2, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/brown_thomas_dowrick_16E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Howard McConnell|
|Title of Article:||BROWN, THOMAS DOWRICK|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||2015|
|Year of revision:||2015|
|Access Date:||June 2, 2023|