THE ADVOCATE 585
VOL. 80 PART 4 JULY 2022
John Dugald McAlpine, Q.C.
John was for many years a towering and formidable
presence in the Vancouver legal community and one
of Canada’s leading barristers.
He was born in 1931 in Vancouver. His parents
were Claude, a lawyer, and Helen, a homemaker.
After graduating from high school at University Hill
and attending Harvard Law, John practised law for
almost 60 years, initially at Farris and then for many years at smaller firms
he headed. He married the love of his life, Sarah, in 1960, and together they
raised a happy and accomplished family: Alison, a filmmaker; John Claude,
an anaesthesiologist; and Jessica, an oncologist. There were so many other
joys in his magnificent life—an abbreviated list would include travelling,
the outdoors (e.g., camping with his family), river rafting, music (Sibelius,
Heifetz, soul music), literature (Tolstoy, Don Quixote, the Classics) and
Scandinavian detective stories, sailing and skiing. But since the Advocate is
neither a travel/outdoor magazine nor a music magazine, we will concentrate
on some of his adventures and accomplishments in the law, through
the reminiscences of a few of his many friends.
Comments from Bruce Fraser, Q.C.:
John Dugald McAlpine, Q.C., knew he would be a lawyer from an early age
growing up in Kitsilano listening to his father (Claude, K.C.) and uncle
(Dugald, K.C.) arguing law and their cases at the family dining room table.
In his hurry to learn more, he entered the UBC Faculty of Arts at age 16,
graduated and enrolled in Harvard Law School at age 20. He articled at Farris
under the tutelage of Senator Farris and his son John, turning his theoretical
knowledge of the law into the practice of law as a barrister. He had
already made a reputation for himself when I, a law student, met him. He
was courting Sarah Procter at the time.
His reputation was growing in the seventies when he made the decision
to start one of the first boutique barristers’ chambers in Vancouver with one
junior, Hein Poulus, now a Q.C., who was given the freedom to make mistakes
and to talk back. Hein was followed by Randy Hordo and Marguerite
Jackson, both also now Q.C.s, and a succession of other students and junior
lawyers who went on to become leaders of the bar, two of whom (the Honourable
Catherine Wedge and the Honourable Carol Ross) went on to