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Norris, Thomas Grantham
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Dates of existence
Thomas Grantham Norris was born in Victoria on September 14, 1893. His father, a newspaper man, died when he was five and he was raised by his mother. Norris was educated in Victoria and graduated from McGill University, Victoria in 1909. In 1911 Norris enrolled as a student-at-law with Barnard, Robertson and Heisterman.
World War I interrupted Norris' studies when he joined the 3rd Battery Canadian Field Artillery in France and Belgium and received the military bar and cross for his efforts. Norris later re-enlisted during World War II to serve as deputy Judge Advocate General.
In 1911 Norris was called and admitted to the B.C. Bar. He began practicing in Kelowna as a solicitor for the soldier Settlement Board. He later joined a private practice where he gained considerable knowledge of agricultural problems, irrigation law, marketing law and constitutional law while representing groups such as the B.C. Fruit Growers Association and participating on the Kelowna Board of Trade. He was appointed as Queen's Counsel in 1932. Norris left Kelowna in 1935 to begin practicing in Vancouver.
Between 1945 and 1959 Norris practiced in Vancouver with Norris, Cumming and Bird. Viewed as a fierce courtroom fighter, Norris was also regarded as an affable man who enjoyed his 25-acre home and extensive rose garden, located in Pitt Meadows. In 1959, the Diefenbaker government appointed Norris to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
In 1961 Norris was elevated to the Appeal Court of British Columbia. Norris was also appointed as Deputy District Judge in Admiralty in 1960 and as District Judge in Admiralty in 1961. Norris was also appointed to the Court of Appeal, Yukon Territories.
On July 17, 1962, Norris was recalled from vacation and placed in charge of the "Industrial Commission as to Shipping in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River System," also known as the Hal Banks Inquiry, over which he presided for 108 days. Widely respected for his independent thinking and dedication to the law, Norris retired from practice on the eve of his seventy-fifth birthday in 1968.
In addition to his long legal career, Norris was involved in a variety of other interests: the Kelowna Board of Trade, the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Conservative Party Association, the Law Society of British Columbia, the Vancouver Bar Association and the B.C. Borstal Association. In 1948, he was elected as president of Vancouver Bar Association. Between 1947 and 1957 Norris was a Bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia and Treasurer from 1957 and 1959. In 1969, the society recognized him as a life Bencher. Norris was also a founder and president of the B.C. Borstal Association.
Thomas Norris passed away 7 October 1976.