Justice Harry Maddison

Justice Harry Maddison was called to the bench in 1969 and served as a judge in the Yukon for 30 years before his retirement.

Retired Yukon Supreme Court judge Harry Maddison has died. 

Maddison had a colourful career. He quit school in Grade nine to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two. After the war, he went on to finish his studies and graduate as a lawyer.

He was called to the bench in 1969 and served as a judge in the Yukon for 30 years before his retirement.

Yukon's current Chief Justice Ron Veale says Maddison will be remembered for the way he stood up to government to protect the independence of the judiciary.

“He had one of the toughest jobs, in my view, in the judiciary in Canada,” Veale says.

“He was the only judge in the Supreme Court of the Yukon, he had little support. He had deputy judges of course, but now we have two judges and we have a researcher and a law officer to help us. He did it all on his own."

When the new courthouse was built in the early 1980s, Judge Maddison denied government efforts to hang a territorial crest in his courtroom. The same fight forced renovations to the justice building to block easy access between the court and government offices.

Maddison died in Vancouver on Boxing Day. He was 89. 

His family is planning a celebration of life sometime in the new year.