Matthew Baillie Begbie is Chief Justice in BC

Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie (1819-1894), the first colonist in BC to have legal training and who established some of the first laws in the colony such as the Pre-emption Act (1860), becomes Chief Justice in 1871 upon confederation. While Begbie sides with Indigenous communities and individuals on certain matters by urging the federal government to protect traditional fishing rights and passing a bill that secures the inheritance of a deceased white man’s estate to his surviving Indigenous wife and children, he is remembered as the “hanging judge” who executes 22 Indigenous people over the course of his career, including the six Tsilhqot’in chiefs of the Chilcotin War (1864).   

Williams, David Ricardo. “BEGBIE, Sir MATTHEW BAILLIE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12, University of Toronto/Université Laval (1990). Accessed March 11, 2021.

Mawani, Renisa. Colonial Proximities: Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871-1921, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009), 148, 182-183.