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Frank Manning Covert

Frank Manning Covert: Fifty Years in the Practice of Law

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Frank Manning Covert
    Book Description:

    A member of what Peter Newman christened the "Munitions and Supply Gang" in World War II Ottawa, Covert was a protégé of the legendary minister of everything, C.D. Howe, for whom he later helped create the post of chancellor of Dalhousie University. Appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1982, Covert's citation noted that he had "given generously of his counsel and leadership to universities, hospitals and charitable organizations" - an understatement typical of the man, who believed that successful work was its own best reward.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7235-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editor’s Foreword
    (pp. vii-xiv)

    Autobiographical literature on Canadian lawyers is in its infancy. There are the memoirs of a former attorney general of Ontario, a prominent Toronto criminal defence counsel, a corporate executive, a federal Progressive Conservative politician, and an early Jewish lawyer in Halifax; that is all.¹ Biographical literature, on the other hand, is flourishing.² The author of these memoirs was, from 1955 to 1975, one of Canada’s leading corporation lawyers. Frank Covert’s continuing celebrity was such that David Ricardo Williams, deeming Covert to be “the logical choice for the Atlantic region,” included him in his collective biography of élite lawyers, each of...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Author’s Preface
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Apple Tree Landing
    (pp. 3-10)

    I was born in Canning,¹ a village in Kings County, Nova Scotia, in 1908, the son of a country doctor and a farmer’s daughter and one of a family of four – two girls and two boys.² The Canning I knew was a beautiful little village with a tidal river running through it, nestled at the foot of North Mountain, approximately six or seven miles from Kentville (the shire town of Kings County) and about equidistant from the college town of Wolfville.³ To the north, one went up the side of North Mountain (which is only about 300 to 500...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Home and School
    (pp. 11-26)

    Father was away for two years during the First World War¹ and when he came back he was not well. I think he was diagnosing himself. Because he was ill, Mother used to take me out of school to accompany him on his trips in the car in summer, the wagon in early spring, and the sleigh in winter. This was to make sure he did not fall asleep, which had happened twice, once in the sleigh (the horse came home without him) and once in the car (which went off the road).

    This was really the beginning of my...

  8. CHAPTER THREE At the Bar
    (pp. 27-55)

    At the end of second year in April 1928 I had planned to bellhop again, but Stewart insisted I spend the summer working in the law office under my articles. He said I would be paid $11.50 per week and that that was the first time an articled clerk had ever been paid. So, of course, I articled. There was a political campaign in progress,¹ the lawyers were busy politicking and, consequently, left all kinds of work for me to do. I searched titles, drew wills, incorporated companies, drafted leases, and generally was very busy. Best of all, Mersey Paper...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Munitions and Supply
    (pp. 56-77)

    In August 1940 I had a phone call from Henry Borden kc (in Ottawa), who was general counsel in the Department of Munitions and Supply.¹ Borden wanted me to come to Ottawa and work as a solicitor in the legal branch. He told me it would be a real contribution to the war effort and that I should report by 2 September. On the 21st I started preparing to hand over my files; I worked night and day for four days, getting the files in shape and dictating memoranda for each file. Mollie and I relaxed at White Point Beach...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE On Active Service
    (pp. 78-100)

    On 29 September 1942 I was sworn in to the rcaf as Aircraftsman A/C 2 No. R188884 and left for Toronto. I sat up all night – there were no sleepers – and arrived the following day at the Manning Depot on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.¹ There were over 8,000 of us. At lunch the first day we passed by hatches through which we handed in our plates. As I got to the one opposite the gravy I said, “No gravy please”; the fellow looked at me and shot back, “Oh, à la carte, eh?” while dumping two ladles...

  11. CHAPTER SIX The Forties
    (pp. 101-118)

    On 3 June 1945 we arrived in Halifax to be met by all the family. The next day it was over to the firm to see everyone in the office, except Roland Ritchie,¹ who had left the Stewart firm and joined the Daley firm.² I spent the 5th to the 7th visiting people; the 8th I went to Canning to see Mother. The federal election campaign was in progress, so I spoke on the 9th at Kentville with J.L. Ilsley, the local mp; two days later, the Liberals under Mackenzie King won another big victory. The 14th to the 19th...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The Fifties
    (pp. 119-143)

    On board the great shipTitanic, when it sank in 1912, was a Halifax man, George Wright, who in his will left $20,000 to an organization that “would attract young people from the lure of the streets.” As the years rolled by, the bequest grew through accumulated and compound interest. Numerous charities applied for it, but all proposals failed, including an early one by the ymca. In 1950 I was retained by the Y, which was going to build a new headquarters on South Park Street in downtown Halifax. I read the applications that had failed and then proceeded to...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT The Sixties
    (pp. 144-159)

    In 1960 I was retained twice by the Canadian Manufacturers Association to prepare and present briefs on trade union matters – once before the Legislature’s law amendments committee to oppose the unions’ request for legislation making union shops compulsory.¹ This led directly to the appointment in July 1960 of A.H. McKinnon² as a “fact-finding body” to study the Trade Union Act and labour legislation generally; the Nova Scotia branch of the cma retained me to present a brief. In February 1962 Judge McKinnon filed his report, in which he suggested that labour and management should consult together and work out...

  14. CHAPTER NINE The Seventies
    (pp. 160-171)

    In January 1970 Archbishop James Hayes of Halifax, chair of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation (rcec), consulted me about problems at Saint Mary’s University, which was owned and really run by the archdiocese.¹ It seemed there was a desire on the part of the students and faculty not to be run by the archdiocese; not to be a religious institution but to be masters of their own destiny. The corporation was going to have to pay off a bond issue and, of course, the property² was very valuable. Every parish in the archdiocese had contributed towards the building of the...

  15. EPILOGUE “A Colossus in the Profession”
    (pp. 172-174)

    In 1981 Louis Dubinsky, a supernumerary justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, Trial Division, published in book form a selection of legal anecdotes which had appeared as a weekly series in the HalifaxChronicle-Heraldin 1977–78.¹ He concluded the work with a moving tribute to Frank Covert, a “giant in the profession of law.”²

    Though nominally retired as of 1978 Covert continued to practise, giving up, very reluctantly, only those directorships, such as Molson’s and Royal Bank, from which age compelled him to retire. In February 1980 the jubilee of his call to the bar was lavishly...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 175-220)
  17. Index
    (pp. 221-228)