About This Book

The book provides a glimpse behind the actions and decisions of a man whose professional life has affected all Canadians; a look at his origins, family life and the forces that shaped the man who in turn helped shape our lives.

This biography began through an ongoing curiosity about my maternal grandfather, Patrick Grandcourt Kerwin. From my perspective as a child, he was a kind and attentive grandparent with a warm smile and gentle demeanour.

My grandfather died at the age of 73, when I was only eight years old, but my memories, affection and interest in him continue.

This is his story.

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

is as true today as it ever was.
Chief Justice Patrick Kerwin speaking at the opening of the Superior Court of Québec Montreal, Québec, 1957.

Canada Today Has a Legal System

in which its people could take great satisfaction. Law is not an exact science, but no stone would be left unturned that could possibly interfere with the best possible determination of the rights of man.
Chief Justice Patrick Kerwin as quoted by the Sarnia Daily Observer, October 25, 1957

Courts are Established to Settle Disputes.

Justice Patrick Kerwin in an address to graduating students, Osgoode Hall, Toronto, 1950.

Students of Law Must be Taught

not merely what the professor knows, but they must be trained to think for themselves.

Address by the Chief Justice at the University of New Brunswick – Honourary Degree of Laws, Saint John, October 15, 1954



The Canadian Law Library Review
Feature Article, May 2019
Volume 44, no.2

The Sarnia Journal May 2019

Supreme Advocacy
Feb.20, 2019

Sarnia &Lambton County
This Week:

Ottawa Citizen Dec.2016


Book submitted to the Library and Archives Canada (#41)

Previous Events

Wellington Law Association (Guelph) book launch, 'Guelph and Wellington County's Legal Past' - provided chapter about
 JC Kerwin and attended the event.

Historical Society of Ottawa
Indigo Barrhaven  
Coles Billing Bridge 
Chapters South Keys 
Byward Market
Coles Carlingwood Mall 
Sarnia Historical Society 
Guelph Historical Society 


Books are available on this website and at the following bookstores:

Octopus Books
Perfect Books
The Book Keeper (Sarnia)
Old Niagara Book Shop (Niagara-on-the-Lake)
The Bookshelf (Guelph)
Wordsworth Book (Waterloo)


Send review to

Canadian Law Library Review 
PAGE 23 - Vol.45, No.1
February 2020

November 2018

Ottawa Radio: CBC program
In Town and Out
October 2018

Other Articles
Ottawa South Community Voice (p.2)
November 2018 (see below)

Guelph Mercury October 2015


Sarnia Journal - p.8

Guelph Mercury



SLAW - Canada's online legal magazine



Stephen G. McKenna

The author of this biography undertook the task ensuring his grandfather’s story was captured for posterity.

Having contributed articles to the media about his grandfather, Stephen continues to tell the story of a great Canadian in this book: Chief Justice Patrick Kerwin, a person who dedicated much of his life to the service of all Canadians.

The tale is told about his maternal grandfather’s career and the life he lived with his family as he climbed to the pinnacle of his profession. Stephen has also brought the personal side of his storied life by including family anecdotes and pictures never before seen in public.
As an author, musician and producer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Stephen will be publishing a collection of short stories and other works in the near future.



Grace & Wisdom in the media

Additional Reviews:
A truly enjoyable read for the general public and law students alike. As an immigrant to Canada, Stephen perked my interest with the family history of Great Lakes Ship Captains' and the importance of the St. Lawrence in commerce in the building of this country.  
The story of a man of humble beginnings who in his early family days played piano (secretly) at 'silent movie' shows in order to make ends meet.
Deals with the essential creation of Canada’s legal system and the large role Patrick Kerwin played in it.  At just 23 he was a full-named Partner and at 55 Chief Justice of Canada.  
"...it must be remembered that the law is a jealous mistress and demands of you, and all her devotees, an assiduous devotion to her cause. The common law is not static but develops from era to era...but that changing circumstances require you to seek to apply those principals to altered conditions...." Address to Students, Osgood Hall, Toronto, June 29, 1950. 
R. Britton, Ottawa

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It carried me along and I looked forward to picking it up each time. I learned a lot about the times...and  also enjoyed learning about the court system and legal cases/issues (e.g., I found your grandfather’s role in the Jehovah Witnesses case so forward thinking). I recognize how you skillfully covered topics that could have been covered in a way that was wildly tough/obscure/dull, and instead you presented things clearly and in a way that engaged the reader. You illustrated why Mr. Justice Taschereau said on your grandfather’s passing: “…..it was my privilege to fully appreciate his great qualities of heart and mind”.Yes, your grandfather’s great heart and mind shone through.

E. Donahue, Ottawa