The Supreme Court of Canada

Update – March 2017

A Photo Essay by Michel Loiselle

Today, I’d like to take you on a visit of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Art-deco architecture, just west of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street in Ottawa.

Photography by Michel LoiselleThe Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada, the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. Its decisions are the ultimate expression and application of Canadian law and binding upon all lower courts of Canada. It is composed of nine judges: the Chief Justice of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. and eight Puisne Justices.

Canadian Parliament photos by Michel LoiselleCourt Calendar

The court sits for 18 weeks of the year beginning the first Monday of October and usually runs until the end of June and sometimes into July. Hearings only take place in Ottawa, although litigants can present oral arguments from remote locations by means of a video-conference system. The court’s hearings are open to the public. Most hearings are taped for delayed telecast in both of Canada’s official languages. When in session, the court sits Monday to Friday, hearing two appeals a day. A quorum consists of five members for appeals. A panel of nine justices hears most cases.

Law Clerks

Since 1967 the court has hired law clerks to assist in legal research. Law clerks conduct research, draft bench memoranda, and assist in drafting judgments, as well as any other research duties assigned by the law clerk’s judge such as drafting speeches or articles. Currently, each justice has three law clerks.

Supreme Court of Canada photo by Michel Loiselle

The Building

Construction began in 1939, with the cornerstone laid by Queen Elizabeth, consort to King George VI and later Queen Mother. It was designed by Ernest Cormier. The court began hearing cases in the new building by January 1946. The building is renowned for its Art Deco decorative details, including two candelabrum-style fluted metal lamp standards that flank the entrance, and the marble walls and floors of the grand interior lobby contrasting with the châteauesque roof.

Aerial Supreme CourtIn 2000, it was named by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada as one of the top 500 buildings produced in Canada during the last millennium.

Two flagstaffs have been erected in front of the building. A flag on one is flown daily, while the other is hoisted only on those days when the court is in session. Also located on the grounds are several statues, notably:

Supreme Court photos by Michel Loiselle

Ottawa photos by Michel Loiselle

  • Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent by Elek Imredy 1976
  • Two statues by Canadian sculptor Walter S. Allward:
    • Statue of Veritas (Truth)
    • Statue of Justitia (Justice)

Photos by Michel LoiselleOn June 9, 2011 Canada Post issued ‘Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa’ designed by Ivan Novotny (Taylor|Sprules Corporation) and based on a photograph by Philippe Landreville as part of the Art Deco series. The stamps feature a photo of the Supreme Court of Canada, designed by Ernest Cormier in 1939, and were printed by Lowe-Martin Company, Inc.

Ottawa photos by Michel LoiselleSource: Wikipedia, the Supreme Court of Canada Web site.
Photos: Michel Loiselle

I hope you’ve enjoyed this information on the Supreme Court of Canada. The photos are from the Supreme Court collection. You may also want to see the Canadian Parliament photo collection. Images start at $12 and are available for immediate download. Use the images in documents, Web sites and reports. The files are color corrected, noise-free and magazine quality.

Thank you and have an excellent evening.

Michel – Website




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