The Honourable Mr. Justice T. David Marshall

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a man with an extraordinary career which has been untimely cut short and I want to use this platform to draw attention to a true renaissance man. Justice David Marshall of the Ontario Superior Court, MD, LLB passed away unexpectedly a week ago today. While I did not know Justice Marshall well, upon meeting him one could not help but marvel at his career and list of accomplishments; regardless of his list of accomplishments, I was immediately struck by the genuine interest he took in the people he had just met. Over the course of his professional life Justice Marshall carved a career path that, I dare to say, few will follow. Justice Marshall had been a doctor since 1962 and a lawyer since 1972 and during the course of his career practiced medicine and law and was a provincial coroner concurrently. In 1982 he was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories and Yukon, and Judge of the Court of Appeal Northwest Territories and Yukon. In 1992 he was appointed Justice of the Ontario Court, located in his home county and was recently named Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Forces Medical and Dental Branch after being a reservist for over four decades. Justice Marshall was the founding director of the National Judicial Institute and had too many appointments and honours, both medical and legal, to fully cover here (but can be found in some of the links in this post). More recently he was known as the Justice who issued the injunction ordering native protesters to leave a site in Caledonia, what is not as widely reported is that the Six Nations had made him an honorary chief in 1982. A reading of the decisions surrounding the dispute reveals a deep appreciation for all sides and issues.

In addition to all of this Justice Marshall also found time to publish material covering topics which he was uniquely qualified to pen:

Canadian Law of Inquests, 3rd ed. (Toronto: Thomson, 2008).

The Law of Human Experimentation (Toronto: Butterworths, 2000).

Judicial Conduct and Accountability (Scarborough, Ont: Carswell, 1995).

The Physician and Canadian Law, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 1979).

Medical Law Handbook: A Guide for Canadian Health-Care Professionals (Toronto: International Self-Counsel Press Ltd, 1985).

Patients’ Rights: What You Should Know Before Seeing a Doctor (Toronto: International Self-Counsel Press Ltd, 1976).

The Hamilton Spectator called him a Renaissance man and I do not think that I can improve on that description. In perusing the works listed above I thought that something from the introduction of the Medical Law Handbook to be most appropriate and also offers a glimpse of his sense of humour.

“Medicine and law work quite well together; they are not all that different. Consider this epitaph that appears on a tombstone in England”:

Doctors and Lawyers he could not abide;
Because of the first he too soon died;
Because of the second, his muddled affairs;
Assured his estate was eventually theirs.


  1. We are sorry to learn of the passing of Justice David Marshall and thank you for an excellent epitaph.

    Richard Day, Publisher
    International Self-Counsel Press

  2. Thank you for writing that Mark! David was my 2nd cousin and yes, he was a wonderful, and caring man.

  3. Gary P. Rodrigues

    I had the privilege of working over many years with David Marshall on his publishing ventures both at Carswell and at LexisNexis Butterworths. In all of our dealings, he was a gentleman. With my publishing colleagues, he was friendly, courteous and willing to do everything needed to ensure that his publications achieved their full potential.

    Whenever we met, David would be full of stories of his most recent adventures and excited about his next undertaking or challenge . The range of his interests was without limit. I particularly remember visiting him at his manor house on the Grand River after a tour in which he showed me the medical clinic he founded and the farms that he had acquired. Most of all I remember the pride with which he showed me the large family dining room with a chair for every child and grandchild. His memory will be cherished by both family and friends.

  4. I also had the pleasure of meeting and working along side David Marshall at the Cayuga Courthouse during an eight month cooperative placement. I learned more about law in those eight months, then the years I attended school. David Marshall will be sadly missed by all those who have had the pleasure of knowing him.

  5. “the genuine interest he took in the people he had just met”

    I served with David Marshall in the 23 (Hamilton) Medical Company. The statement above is so very true. As an officer he always truly, honestly and genuinely showed an interest in the enlisted men and officers under his command.

    A great loss to the Canadian Forces, the judiciary, the country and his family.