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Death Notice


Published on 13/09/2022

LAMBERT - JUSTICE J. DOUGLAS 1930-2022 On Sunday, July 31, 2022, The Hon. J. Douglas Lambert, retired Judge of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and the Court of Appeal of Yukon, died peacefully at the age of 92. Predeceased by his beloved wife of 64 years, Barbara, and his brother Owen (Wynne), he will be lovingly remembered by his children James (Alexandra), Shaena (Bob) and John (Marie), by his grandchildren Andrew (Saya), Gabriella (Harneil), Peter (Alice), Lucy, Sophie, Leo and Yann, as well as his extended family in Canada, Scotland and the United States. His family is grateful to the staff of Tapestry Wesbrook Mall, the Vancouver Hospice Society, and to personal caregiver Maria Rufina Arriola, and family, whose kindness and help were exceptional. Douglas was born in Ardrossan, Scotland. He was the son of Jimmy Lambert, a mining engineer, and Jean Lambert (nee Todd), a schoolteacher. After his early education at Ardrossan Academy, Trinity College Glenalmond, and St. Andrew's University, he emigrated to Canada, finishing his studies at Queen's University, Kingston (BA, 1955); and the University of British Columbia (LL. B. 1958). He was called to the bar of British Columbia in 1959, and in the course of his early practice he served in the Department of Justice in Ottawa and spent a year in Barbados drafting the initial tax and financial legislation for the newly independent country. On his return to Canada in 1968 he practiced law in Vancouver with Davis and Company. In 1976 he became a part-time member of the British Columbia Law Reform Commission, and in 1978 became its full-time Chair. He was appointed to the Court of Appeal of British Columbia in July 1978 and served as a Justice of the Court until reaching the age of 75 in 2005. Highly regarded for his incisive legal thought, Douglas wrote prolifically and was respected by two generations of lawyers who appeared before him. He retained a fond connection with all his 27 law clerks, following their subsequent personal and professional successes with great interest. He was perhaps best known for his significant contribution to the evolution of the law on Aboriginal Title and Rights. His ground-breaking judgments on Indigenous law, 23 in all, span a quarter of a century, and include Haida Nation v BC, which protected Haida Gwai forests and enshrined the province's duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous nations. In 1993, Douglas sat on the Delgamuukw appeal in Vancouver. His landmark dissenting opinion sent the case to the Supreme Court of Canada where that Court upheld his position in favour of jurisdiction and ownership of land for the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en. For three years, while he was a Judge, Douglas was Chair of the Editorial Board of the Canadian Bar Review and enjoyed a cordial relationship with then editor, Bertie McLean. After retiring from the bench to the Okanagan Valley, Douglas practiced Indigenous law and arbitration for more than a decade, assisting in historic cases for the Tsilhqot'in and Esquimalt peoples. He shared each day, until her death in October 2021, with his dear wife, Barbara, and with his other constant companion, a battered copy of the works of 17th century English social diarist, Samuel Pepys. A memorial is being planned for later this fall. Please contact the family for details.


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