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Estey, James Wilfred (1889–1956)

James Estey was born in Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick, on December 1, 1889. After graduating from the University of New Brunswick in 1910 he studied at Harvard, earning a law degree. Estey came to Saskatchewan in 1915 to lecture in law and economics at the University of Saskatchewan, a position he held for ten years. In 1917 he helped establish a law practice until he was appointed Crown Prosecutor in Saskatoon from 1921 until 1929. In 1929, Estey first ran for the Liberals in the constituency of Saskatoon City but was defeated by Conservative leader J.T.M. Anderson. Estey was successful in 1934 as the Conservatives were swept out of office. He was appointed Minister of Education and over his term, which ended in 1941, the issues of school grants, collection of property taxes, and payment of teachers were gradually dealt with as the economy rebounded and government revenue increased. Estey took on the responsibility of Attorney-General in 1938. He redrafted the Debt Adjustment Act to give greater protection to debtors who faced seizure of property, particularly farm land, as a result of the effects of the Depression. Estey was defeated in the CCF electoral sweep in June 1944. In October he was appointed to the Supreme Court and served for eleven years until his death on January 22, 1956. Estey’s son, Clarence Estey, would follow in his father’s footsteps, also becoming a Cabinet Minister and judge.

Brett Quiring

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