HON. JUDGE LEWIS
From: "Montreal History and Gazeteer to the year
By Rev. J. Douglas Borthwick, John Lovell &
Son, Montreal 1892
LEWIS THOMAS DRUMMOND,
late Judge of the Court of Appeals, and some time Attorney General for
Lower Canada, was one of the most prominent Catholic Irishmen in Canada.
Born in 18I3, at Coleraine, where he was well grounded in English and mathematics,
he was, at the age of twelve, while crossing the Atlantic, entrusted with
some responsible calculations of the ship's course by the captain, who
was too unwell to work out
the figures himself, At fourteen, having learned French in the interval,
he was sent to the Canadian Seminary of Nicolet, near Three Rivers. There
he was the first to introduce and keep up, in spite of ridicule, the current
Parisian pronuciation instead of the antiquated Louis XIV. style, which
still prevails in some of the French Canadian Colleges.
In I836, he was called to the Bar. So great had been
his reputation as a Law student, that in his first term he was employed
on sixty different cases. Soon after, he defended the Rebels of 1837-38
with most brilliant success, and yet without in any way departing from
loyalty to the Crown.
He was, in his day, considered the best criminal lawyer
in the Province of Quebec. And in one famous murder trial, it was curious
to note that he, an Irish- man, counsel for the defence, and the present
Judge Johnson, now Sir Francis John- son, an Englishman, Crown Prosecutor,
both held the crowded Court House entranced with the charm of their French
speeches. For some sixteen years, ending with 1863, Mr. Drummond was a
member of the Canadian Legislative Assembly. His political adversaries
were pleased to qualify his eloquence with the epithet " theatrical'';
but they were forced to own that this perhaps excessive brilliancy adorned
depth of thought, breadth of view, great powers of organization, and perfect
unselfishness. These latter qualities were particularly shown in the way
in which, as Attorney-General, he carried the Seigniorial Tenure Bill against
determined opposition, and in spite of the fact that this very Bill, while
sweeping away the abuses then attaching to all the Canadian seigneuries,
cut down the fortunes of his nearest and dearest relatives and friends.
At the time when so·called wise men seriously
entertained the project of fortify- ing a country which is all frontier,
he won for himself the sobriquet of " no armament" Drummond, because he
had said in the House in his antithetic way: "The best armament for Canada
is no armament at all." When asked how much preparation he had given to
an exhaustive speech of several hours on a vital commercial question, he
answered: " Remote preparation, eighteen years; proximate, half an hour."
In I864, he was raised to the Bench as a Puisne
Judge of the Court of Queen's Bench. The lucidity and wisdom of his judgments,
together with the clear, cogent earnestness of his charge in the Criminal
are matters of Canadian history; his decision in the " Lamirande Extradition
Case " is known to jurists who have never seen the banks of the St. Lawrence.
Worn out by the immense labors of his youth--when already
in the forefront of his profession, he looked so young that strangers took
him for a mere boy - and by exposure in all weathers on the hustings, he
spent the last years of his life in retire- ment in the society of a few
kindred spirits who delighted in drawing him out on his reminiscences of
the Bar and of Parliament. Like most good talkers, he could give ·
you plenty of humorous and grave sayings of his own, though he did not
fail keenly to appreciate wit and wisdom in others.
While ever able to silence the wrongdoer with the keenest
irony and satire, he was the kindliest and most forgiving of men. He was
too open-handed and generous in the management of other people's affairs
to take any successful interest in his own. But in his closing years he
found especial interest in directing, as its President, a Conference of
St. Vincent de Paul almost exclusively composed of small trades- people
As to his devotedness to Ireland, Maguire in his Irish-In-America
(p. 90) tells us how he gave to Irishmen in Montreal a social status from
which they had been up to his time debarred. Others might tell how he helped
to link together in public life two interests which ought never to be parted,
and which in his private life he had knit indissolubly into one--the interests
of Irish and French Canadian Catholics. He was just and merciful to his
fellow men; we have firm hope that he now enjoys the reward of the just
from the hand of our merciful God.
He died on the 20th November, 1882. His son, the Rev.
Drummond, is at present the esteemed Rector of St. Mary's College
(Jesuits), and under his able management the affairs of that Institution
will, no doubt, flourish more than they have ever done. The portrait of
the Judge is from an old photograph in the Abbe's possession.
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