Sir Louis Henry Davies KCMG PC (May 4, 1845 – May 1, 1924) was a Canadian lawyer, businessman and politician, and judge from the province of Prince Edward Island. In a public career spanning six decades, he served as the third premier of Prince Edward Island, a federal Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister, and as both a Puisne Justice and the sixth Chief Justice of Canada.

Sir Louis Henry Davies
Hon. Sir Davies, c. 1903
3rd Premier of Prince Edward Island
In office
August 15, 1876 – April 25, 1879
Lieutenant GovernorRobert Hodgson
Preceded byLemuel Owen
Succeeded byWilliam Wilfred Sullivan
Leader of the Prince Edward Island Liberal Party
In office
1876 – June 20, 1882
Preceded byRobert Haythorne
Succeeded byJohn Yeo
Member of the General Assembly of Prince Edward Island for 4th Kings
In office
1872 – August 10, 1876
Preceded byNone
Succeeded byJames Robertson
Member of the General Assembly of Prince Edward Island for 5th Queens
In office
August 10, 1876 – April 2, 1879
Serving with George W. Deblois
Preceded byFrederick Brecken
Succeeded byNeil McLeod
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Queen's County
In office
June 20, 1882 – February 27, 1883
Preceded byJames Colledge Pope
Frederick de Sainte-Croix Brecken
In office
February 27, 1883 – August 19, 1884
In office
August 19, 1884 – February 22, 1887
In office
February 22, 1887 – June 23, 1896
Serving with William Welsh
Succeeded byabolished 1892
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for West Queen's
In office
June 23, 1896 – September 25, 1901
Preceded bycreated 1892
Succeeded byDonald Farquharson
6th Chief Justice of Canada
In office
October 23, 1918 – May 1, 1924
Nominated byRobert Borden
Preceded byCharles Fitzpatrick
Succeeded byFrancis Alexander Anglin
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
In office
September 25, 1901 – October 23, 1918
Nominated byWilfrid Laurier
Preceded byGeorge Edwin King
Succeeded byPierre-Basile Mignault
Personal details
Born(1845-05-04)May 4, 1845
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Colony
DiedMay 1, 1924(1924-05-01) (aged 78)
Ottawa, Ontario, Dominion of Canada
Political partyLiberal
Other political
Prince Edward Island Liberal Party
Susan Wiggins
(m. 1872)
RelationsBenjamin Davies
ResidenceCharlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Alma materPrince of Wales College (now part of the University of Prince Edward Island)
Occupationlawyer, judge, business person, and publisher
CabinetAttorney General (1876–1879)
Solicitor General (1869)
Minister of Marine and Fisheries (1896–1901)

Early life and family


Davies was born in Charlottetown, the son of Benjamin Davies and Kezia Attwood Watts. He attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown.[1]

In July, 1872, he married Susan Wiggins, a daughter of Dr. A. V. G. Wiggins. She was a member of the Humane Society, the Women's Canadian Historical Society, and similar organizations. The couple had two sons and three daughters.[2]


Davies read law at the Inner Temple in London. He was called to bar in England in 1866, and to the bar of Prince Edward Island a year later. He served as lead counsel for the Prince Edward Island Land Commission, which was established in 1875 to settle the problem of absentee land ownership and to provide tenants of the Island with clear title to their lands.[citation needed]

In 1877, Davies was one of the Canadian counsel who appeared on behalf of the British Government before the Halifax Fisheries Commission, appointed under the Treaty of Washington (1871) to resolve outstanding issues, including fishing rights.[1] The Commission gave an award directing the United States to pay $5,500,000 to the British Government.[3]

Davies was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1880, and knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897.[4][1]

Political career


Davies was first elected to the House of Assembly as a Liberal in 1872 just prior to Prince Edward Island entering Canadian confederation.[1] With the issue of Confederation resolved and the land question settled as a result of Canada's promise to fund land reform and the passage of the Land Purchase Act, the major issue remaining on the island was that of school funding and whether the school system should be entirely secular and public or whether separate schools for Catholics should be permitted. The issue divided both parties, and had led to the collapse of one government.[citation needed]

Following the defeat of the Conservative government of Lemuel Cambridge Owen in 1876, Davies established a coalition government of Protestant Liberals and Conservatives with himself as Premier and Attorney-General.[citation needed] The Davies government was formed to enact a Public Schools Act which made school attendance compulsory, and created a non-sectarian public school system.[citation needed] The act was passed in 1877 and, with the issue around which the coalition had been formed having been resolved, the coalition itself began to unravel.[citation needed] Davies' government reformed the civil service and brought in financial reforms before being defeated by the Conservatives in a Motion of No Confidence in 1879.[citation needed]

Davies won a seat in the House of Commons of Canada in the 1882 federal election as a Liberal.[citation needed] When the Liberals formed government after the 1896 election under Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Davies became minister of marine and fisheries, and during 1898–1899 he was a member of the Anglo-American joint high commission at Quebec.[5]

Supreme Court of Canada


In 1901, Davies was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. He was appointed Chief Justice in 1918. He was the oldest person to be appointed Chief Justice, at the age of 73 years, 172 days. Davies held the position until his death in Ottawa in 1924.[citation needed]

As of 2020, he is the last Chief Justice of Canada to have previously served in elected office. He is also, as of 2020, the only Prince Edward Islander to have served on the Supreme Court.[citation needed] The Prince Edward Island Supreme Court building in Charlottetown is named in his honour.[citation needed] Also named for him is Davies Point, at the meeting of Hastings and Alice Arms on Observatory Inlet in British Columbia; the naming was done at the time of his appointment to the Supreme Court,[6] as was also Davies Bay, at the head of Work Channel just east of Prince Rupert.[7]

Electoral record

1887 Canadian federal election: Queen's County
Party Candidate Votes Elected
Liberal Louis Henry Davies 4,382 X
Independent Liberal William Welsh 4,314 X
Conservative Donald Ferguson 3,599
Conservative William Campbell 3,430
1891 Canadian federal election: Queen's County
Party Candidate Votes Elected
Liberal Louis Henry Davies 4,006 X
Independent Liberal William Welsh 3,854 X
Conservative Patrick Blake 3,669
Conservative Donald Ferguson 3,521


  1. ^ a b c d Bumsted, J. M. "DAVIES, Sir LOUIS HENRY". Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 15. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Archived from the original on 23 April 2021. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  2. ^ Morgan, Henry James, ed. (1903). Types of Canadian Women and of Women who are or have been Connected with Canada. Toronto: Williams Briggs. p. 74.
  3. ^ Record of the Proceedings of the Halifax Fisheries Commission, pp. 53-54.
  4. ^ The International Year-book: A Compendium of the World's Progress During the Year. Vol. 1. Dodd, Mead. 1899. p. 258. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  5. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Davies, Sir Louis Henry" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 865.
  6. ^ "Davies Point". BC Geographical Names.
  7. ^ "Davies Bay". BC Geographical Names.