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Douglas Abbott

Douglas Abbott
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
In office
July 1, 1954 – December 23, 1973
Nominated byLouis St. Laurent
Preceded byPatrick Kerwin
Succeeded byLouis-Philippe de Grandpré
Minister of Finance
In office
December 10, 1946 – June 30, 1954
Prime MinisterW. L. Mackenzie King
Louis St. Laurent
Preceded byJames Lorimer Ilsley
Succeeded byWalter Harris
Minister of National Defence
In office
August 21, 1945 – December 9, 1946
Prime MinisterW. L. Mackenzie King
Preceded byAndrew McNaughton
Succeeded byBrooke Claxton
Member of Parliament
for Saint-Antoine—Westmount
In office
March 26, 1940 – June 30, 1954
Preceded byRobert Smeaton White
Succeeded byGeorge Carlyle Marler
Personal details
Douglas Charles Abbott

(1899-05-29)May 29, 1899
Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada
DiedMarch 15, 1987(1987-03-15) (aged 87)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Mary Winnifred Chisholm
(m. 1925; died 1980)
Florence Elizabeth Scarth
(m. 1981)
Children3, including Tony
Alma mater
Military service
Branch/serviceNon-Permanent Active Militia
Royal Air Force
Years of service1916–1918
RankGunner (NPAM)[1]
Unit7th (McGill) Siege Battery, Canadian Garrison Artillery, Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery

Douglas Charles Abbott PC (May 29, 1899 – March 15, 1987) was a Canadian Member of Parliament, federal Cabinet Minister, and justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Abbott's appointment directly from the Cabinet of Canada as Finance Minister to the Supreme Court was one of the most controversial in the Supreme Court's history.[2]

Early life

Abbott was born in Lennoxville, Quebec (now Sherbrooke, Quebec). He attended Bishop's University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts. He then attended McGill Law School, but interrupted his studies to sign up for service overseas, in 1916. Returning from the Great War, he completed his legal studies, earning his Bachelor of Civil Law. He then went to France to attend the Université de Dijon.[3] Returning to Canada, he was called to the Barreau du Québec in 1921 and practised law in Montreal with the firm of Fleet, Phelan, Fleet & Le Mesurier.

Political career

Abbott successfully stood for election to the House of Commons in 1940, and remained a member of the House for fourteen years. A member of the Liberal Party of Canada, Abbott served as Minister of National Defence (1945–46) and then Minister of Finance (1946–54).

Supreme Court justice

He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on July 1, 1954[2] and served as puisne justice until December 23, 1973.

Abbott was appointed to the court directly from the federal Cabinet, where he had served the previous seven years as Finance Minister.[2] The appointment is considered one of the most controversial in the history of the Supreme Court.[2] It was the first appointment directly from Cabinet since the 1911 appointment of Louis-Philippe Brodeur.[2] As of 2024, Abbott was the last justice of the Supreme Court of Canada appointed directly to the Court from the Cabinet, and the last justice to have held elected office prior to his appointment.[citation needed]

Parliamentary seats

House of Commons

  • 16 May 1940 – 16 April 1945: St. Antoine—Westmount, Quebec
  • 6 September 1945 – 30 April 1949: St. Antoine—Westmount, Quebec
  • 15 September 1949 – 13 June 1953: St. Antoine—Westmount, Quebec
  • 12 November 1953 – 30 June 1954: Saint-Antoine—Westmount, Quebec

Parliamentary functions


Parliamentary Secretary

  • 1 April 1943 – 7 March 1945: Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance[3]
  • 8 March 1945 – 16 April 1945: Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence[3]


There is a Douglas Charles Abbott fonds at Library and Archives Canada. Archival reference number is R4773 (former archival reference number MG32-B6).[4]


  1. ^ Archives, McGill University (November 11, 2012). "McGill University Archives – McGill Remembers".
  2. ^ a b c d e McCormick, Peter (2000-01-01). Supreme at Last: The Evolution of the Supreme Court of Canada. James Lorimer & Company. ISBN 9781550286922.
  3. ^ a b c d e f The International Who's Who 1972–73. London: Europa Publications. 1972. p. 2. ISBN 0900362480.
  4. ^ "Finding aid for Douglas Charles Abbott fonds" (PDF). Retrieved June 8, 2020.
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Douglas Abbott
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