New Brunswick

Harold Henneberry remembered as 'dean' of court reporters

Judges, lawyers and clerks crowded into a Saint John courtroom today to remember Harold Henneberry, described as the "dean" of court reporters in the province.

"He's a major part in the 20th century of the legal history of Saint John and of New Brunswick."

Even in his final years at the Ridgewood Veterans Hospital, Henneberry always wore a fountain pen in his pocket as a badge of his profession. (Contributed)

Judges, lawyers and clerks crowded into a Saint John courtroom today to remember Harold Henneberry, described as the "dean" of court reporters in the province.

Henneberry was the only non-lawyer to be given membership in the Saint John Law Society. He died Wednesday at the age of 95.

"I would call it respect," said lawyer John Barry, who spoke at length during the memorial service at Peel Plaza.

"He's a major part in the 20th century of the legal history of Saint John and of New Brunswick."

Barry says Henneberry was highly respected by the judges and lawyers he worked with closely over several decades. But his interests were widespread and driven by what Barry called an "intense unrestricted curiosity."

He was a musician and choir director who taught himself four languages, including Japanese. 

"Great interest in books, thousands of books," said Henneberry's son, Monsignor Brian Henneberry of the Diocese of Saint John.

In 2014 he was awarded France's Legion of Honour. (Contributed)

"Languages, theology, philosophy, literature, cooking, whatever he got into he just loved it," Henneberry said.

He was impressed to see so many from the legal community at the service.

"Some of them started with him on their first days and now they're retired justices and retired lawyers," Henneberry said.

His father was very honoured to have been given membership in the Law Society, Henneberry says.

Prior to becoming a court reporter, Henneberry did important service in the military during World War II. He worked first in coding and decoding in Canada and then requested a demotion to be allowed to serve overseas where he handled highly secretive files.

In 1945, he was awarded the British Empire Medal by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

He turned down the opportunity to become Chief of Canadian Clerical Staff for the Nuremberg trials.

In 2014 he was awarded France's Legion of Honour. 

With a son and daughter, he owned and operated Henneberry Reporting Service and although nominally retired since his mid 80s,  was still working occasionally as a court reporter at 90.

In early years court reporting was done using short-hand and even even in his final years at the Ridgewood Veterans Hospital, Henneberry always wore a fountain pen in his pocket as a badge of his profession.

About the Author

Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca

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