George Frederick Curtis has devoted his life to legal education. During his long and illustrious career, he has made significant and lasting contributions to his country, to university education, to the law and to legal education.
He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1927 and was named a Rhodes Scholar. He earned a BA in Jurisprudence in 1930 and a BCL at Oxford in 1931 – achieving first class honours in each.
After a number of years spent in private practice in Halifax and teaching at Dalhousie University, it was British Columbia’s good fortune that he was appointed the first Dean of the fledgling Law Faculty at the University of British Columbia in 1945. He arrived at a time when there was little money, no facility to house its first class, and no library. Undaunted by these challenges he took the initiative and recruited judges and practitioners as voluntary lecturers, to supplement himself and one other professor.
The faculty he created was pluralistic and tolerant, enriched by teachers from differing backgrounds contributing different points of view.
No stranger to honours, Dean Emeritus George Curtis as granted honorary degrees by the universities of Dalhousie, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and British Columbia. He was named Queen’s Counsel in 1957 and a member of the Order of the Coif in 1964. The Law Society made him the first recipient of the Law Society Award in 1986.
On this 50th anniversary of the law school, it is appropriate that we now honour the esteemed Dean Emeritus with the Province’s highest award.