Written by: Justin Brett
No semester at Algoma University can (or at least, shouldn’t) be finished without at least a few trips to the Arthur Wishart library, home to many books and resources for students, whatever their subject or assignment is. If you’ve been to or taken advantage of this library, you might wonder who he is. Well, ask no more.
Born in 1903 in New Brunswick, like many young men we have covered Arthur went into the field of law for his post-secondary studies. He obtained a degree from Osgoode Law School in 1930 and would work as a lawyer in both Windsor and Blind River, even serving as Mayor of the latter for a time. Finally, he moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1939.
Arthur seemed to live a normal life for a lawyer here until 1963, when he ran in a Provincial Election and was appointed Sault Ste. Marie’s Member of Provincial Parliament (or MPP) for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Within a year after that he had entered the cabinet of Premier John Robarts as Attorney General. He would remain in this position for seven years, and can be credited with pushing forward multiple pieces of notable legislation. This includes the Legal Aid Act of 1966 which guaranteed legal services for poorer clients, and the Law Enforcement Compensation Act of 1967, which awarded compensation to anyone injured or killed while helping a police officer carry out their duties.
Arthur would retire from politics in 1971, after serving a brief time as Minister of Financial and Consumer Affairs that year, but would continue working for the public as chairman of both the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. He also helped create the Grange Commission, an inquiry that targeted abuse of franchisees by franchisors. The museum has many images of him present at the unveiling of historical plaques or speaking at ceremonies regarding local improvements such as the Plummer Memorial Hospital’s new wing. His name appearing on the Algoma University’s library is thanks to him being a consistent supporter of the institution, even serving as a trustee on their board. Despite being in politics for a relatively short amount of time, Arthur Wishart certainly made his mark on Canadian law, and is another notable person who arrived in Sault Ste. Marie.