PARKE, EPHRAIM JONES, lawyer, businessman, office holder, and judge; b. 1 Nov. 1823 in York (Toronto), Upper Canada, eldest son of Thomas Parke* and Sarah —; m. 4 Feb. 1869 Mary Helen Southwick in St Thomas, Ont., and they had a son and two daughters; d. 13 Nov. 1899 in London, Ont.
Ephraim Jones Parke came to London with his family in 1832 and was educated at the London District Grammar School under Francis H. Wright, ma, of Trinity College, Dublin. In 1842, at which time his father, a reformer, was provincial surveyor general, Parke managed to secure a position as a law student in the office of John A. Macdonald in Kingston. He remained there until 1845 and completed his five-year articling period under John Wilson* in London. In 1846 he began practising as a solicitor in Woodstock, Upper Canada. Called to the bar the following year, he entered into a partnership with Thomas Scatcherd* in 1848. Parke operated the firm’s Woodstock office while Scatcherd remained in London. In 1852 the partnership was dissolved and Parke returned to London, where he practised until his death in 1899. His partners included his brother Edward Deane Parke, David Mills*, Thomas Hunter Purdom, and Purdom’s son Alexander.
In his practice Parke represented a number of commercial interests in London and southwestern Ontario including the London and Port Stanley Railway (from 1856 to 1872), the Commercial Bank of Canada, and the Merchants’ Bank of Canada. He was solicitor for the county of Middlesex (1869–99) and occasionally acted as crown counsel and as deputy county court judge. He was police magistrate for the city of London from 1882 to 1899. Like many successful Ontario lawyers of the late 19th century, he used his practice as a springboard into business and commercial ventures. He promoted the London and Port Stanley Railway and obtained its charter in 1853, and with his partners Mills and T. H. Purdom he established the Northern Life Assurance Company, of which he was vice-president at his death.
A prominent member of the London bar (he became a qc in 1885), Parke was actively involved in the Middlesex Law Association. As its vice-president and later president he promoted the interests of the local legal profession. These were often in conflict with those of the Toronto bar, which dominated the provincial legal and judicial communities. On behalf of the association, he lobbied the provincial government to increase the opportunities for local lawyers to litigate by decentralizing judicial administration, either by improving the monetary jurisdiction of county courts or by increasing the local sittings of the superior courts. In 1894 his efforts were instrumental in persuading the government of Sir Oliver Mowat* to pass a statute instituting weekly sittings of the High Court of Justice at London and Ottawa over the strong objections of both Toronto-based legal journals, the Canada Law Journal and the Canadian Law Times.
In politics, Parke was a Liberal. The London Advertiser, the local Liberal newspaper, described him in an obituary as having been “reared in the best political school, his father having been one of the sturdy band in the Legislature of Upper Canada, who fought for popular liberties.” Unlike his father, however, and despite his local prominence, Parke never ran for political office. In religion, he belonged to the Church of England, having apparently joined it as an adult after being raised as a Wesleyan Methodist. He married at an Anglican church in St Thomas in 1869 and his funeral service was conducted by George Mignon Innes, dean of the Anglican diocese of Huron.
Middlesex Law Assoc., Library (London), Minute-book, 1: 44–47. UWOL, Regional Coll., Middlesex County, Ont., Solicitor, public records, box 34, Parke to T. E. Robson, 29 Jan. 1891; Surrogate Court, administration bonds, 1870–1902, box 60: 154, no.6563. Daily Times (St Thomas, Ont.), 14 Nov. 1899. London Advertiser, 4 Feb. 1869, 14 Nov. 1899. London Free Press, 14–16 Nov. 1899. Canadian men and women of the time (Morgan; 1898). Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose and Charlesworth), vol.1. Ontario law directory (Toronto), 1880: 135. Hist. of Middlesex, 957–58. D. J. Hughes and T. H. Purdom, History of the bar of the county of Middlesex . . . ([London, 1912]), 7, 49.