Duncan, Linton LLP is the oldest independent law firm in Waterloo Region and is one of the oldest law firms in all of Ontario. The firm’s history dates back to 1860 – when Ontario was still “Canada West”, Kitchener was still “Berlin”, and the City of Waterloo was just a small village.

In celebration of Duncan, Linton LLP’s 160th anniversary (and because current circumstances continue to make other forms of celebration impractical), the firm is publishing a series of blog posts that spotlight the biography of partners of the firm who were leaders in Waterloo Region’s business, legal, and political life. Our third and final blog post focuses on Walter J. McGibbon, Q.C.

Walter J. McGibbon, Q.C.

Walter McGibbon graduated from the Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in 1926 and set up his law practice in Kitchener the following year. His first office was at King and Queen Streets, where he worked alone. Less than a year later, McGibbon entered into a partnership with Arthur B. McBride, whom our second biography blog post focused on, under the name McBride & McGibbon.

The firm would go on to bear McGibbon’s name for an astonishing 49 years, being known as McGibbon, Harpey and Haney in 1977. McGibbon also continued as counsel to the firm until his passing in 1979.

The listing for McBride & McGibbon in the Waterloo Business Directory published by Vernon Directories Limited in or around the 1930’s. We note that our office’s phone number has since been updated.

McGibbon represents a key connecting link between the firm’s earliest days, having practiced with Arthur B. McBride, and the present day. McGibbon was a mentor to both Irwin A. Duncan and J. David Linton and oversaw the acquisition of our current location on Erb Street East in Waterloo, where the firm’s office was initially constructed as a single storey building in 1959.

Announcements from the Waterloo Chronicle of Irwin A. Duncan and J. David Linton joining the firm.

The firm continued to be known as McBride & McGibbon for many years after McBride’s death. It appears that McGibbon took on a number of associates over the years, and ultimately in 1948 he took on an associate by the name of Jack Harper, with whom he entered into a partnership in 1952 under the firm name McGibbon & Harper.

McGibbon served as town solicitor for the Town of Waterloo commencing in 1928, and also served as solicitor for the County of Waterloo. In his role as solicitor for the Town of Waterloo, McGibbon played a key role in changing its municipal status from town to city in 1948.

McGibbon served on an impressive number of corporate boards. Notably, in 1945 he began a long association with the Waterloo Mutual Insurance Co., and over time served as director, vice-president, president and chairman. Legend has it that McGibbon turned down a judicial appointment because he could not bear to leave behind his practice and the various boards he served on.

McGibbon was also active in the Conservative party, serving as the president for the Waterloo North riding association for a number of years, and running in that seat for the governing Conservatives in the 1948 provincial election.

Perhaps McGibbon’s most significant and enduring contribution to Waterloo Region was his service as chairman of the Advisory Board for St. Mary’s Hospital, a position he assumed in 1943.

At the time, St. Mary’s was overcrowded and near to capacity. In 1948, McGibbon led a capital grant application for a significant expansion of the hospital. Due in large part to the prior approval for the KW Hospital (now Grand River) expansion project, St. Mary’s grant proposal was effectively postponed. McGibbon would go on to lead successful expansion efforts in 1956, playing a critical role in obtaining approvals from provincial and municipal governments, and helping lead the charge on fundraising campaigns. The long-awaited expansion of St. Mary’s commenced in 1960 and was completed in 1962.

McGibbon continued to serve on the St. Mary’s Board until 1972.

Surrounded by local officials and dignitaries, Kitchener Alderman Albert J. Cundick turned the first sod for the new addition to St. Mary’s in 1960. Standing next to him was Terry McGrath and watching over the event were Colonel Hugh J. Heasley, Bishop Joseph F. Ryan, Walter McGibbon, Kitchener Mayor Harold Warnfold and Waterloo Mayor James Bauer.

For 160 years, and through several name changes, our firm’s focus has been to provide sound legal advice, supported by prompt, effective and responsive service to our clients. Duncan, Linton LLP truly has a history of excellence and a reputation for excellent legal services. The loyalty of our clients is the firm’s proudest asset. To contact a member of our team of experienced lawyers, call us at 273 (519) 886-3340 or contact us online.

Duncan, Linton LLP wishes to thank the Waterloo Historical Society, the Waterloo Public Library, Explore Waterloo Region, the University of Waterloo Library Special Collections, and The Great Canadian Catholic Hospital History Project whose online and archival content was of great assistance in drafting this post.