New Judge sworn in at Fort Frances Court

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Justice Terry Waltenbury was sworn in last Thursday giving Fort Frances and the Rainy River District their first resident judge in 11 years.

Ontario Chief Justice Sharon Nicklas was in attendance for the swearing in as were many other guests from the legal community including Regional Senior Justice David Gibson and Justice Chantal Brochu on behalf of Justice Jonathan Brunet, the president of the Association of Ontario Judges. Crown Attorney Ann Pollak represented Attorney General Doug Downey.

Many guests also took in the ceremony online.

In her address Nicklas thanked the Attorney General for seeing fit to appoint a presiding judge to the area.

“As some of you may know, the appointment of Justice Waltenbury is a new addition to the judicial complement in the northwest region. We are grateful to the Attorney General for seeing the need in this community and fortunate that you will be serving as a judge here in Fort Frances,” Nicklas said. “This addition will provide for greater access to justice for the community of Fort Frances and other communities in the northwest region, including our indigenous communities.”

Waltenbury’s background was discussed In a prior release from the office of the Attorney General.

“Justice Terry Peter Waltenbury was called to the Ontario bar in 2001. Between 1999 and 2005 he was with Weaver Simmons LLP in Sudbury, first as an articling student and then as an associate. After this, Justice Waltenbury joined Marcuccio Law to practice criminal law. He began working at Paquette & Paquette in 2010 and expanded his practice to include civil litigation. Justice Waltenbury opened his own firm, Waltenbury Law, in 2019, and joined the Sudbury Crown Attorney’s Office in 2021, where he conducted Sudbury’s first criminal jury trial during the COVID-19 pandemic. While at the Crown attorney’s office, he also mentored new lawyers and articling students.”

In his address to those gathered Senior Justice Gibson told Waltenbury of the role he will play in the reconciliation movement between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.

“There is a consensus growing within our country that the primary focus of our energies as a people needs to be on reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. You will in the course of your work, recognize that can communities like poor Francis are on the forefront of that reconciliation effort.”

Gibson also expressed how happy he was to see a judge appointed to Fort Frances.

“I want to explain to you, especially as a sitting judge in Kenora, traveling three and a quarter hours one way to sit in Fort Frances for the last 10 years, how absolutely delighted we are that you’re here in Fort Frances,” Gibson said.

Douglas Judson president of the Rainy River District Law Association welcomed Waltenbury to the District saying he believes Waltenbury will fulfill many local lawyers’ hopes for a local judge.

“You have to understand,” Judson said to Waltenbury. “We have imagined for quite some time that we have imagined what our new judge might be like, who that person might be, and what qualities they would bring to our court. Your appointment reflects many of the characteristics of the ideal judge. Someone who understands the unique challenges of the north, someone who will put down roots in our community rather than commute, and someone who will administer court with an awareness of the challenges facing those of us in small practices, which is many of the lawyers who will appear before you…”

Addressing those gathered in the courtroom and online, Justice Waltenbury got emotional as he thanked the many people who had assisted him over the course of his legal career including his family and legal colleagues. Waltenbury closed his remarks speaking about community.

“I’m glad to announce that my wife and I’s offer to purchase a home in this beautiful community was accepted. Community is very important,” he said. “It’s a means by which human beings are able to band together to make our collective lives better. There will always be bumps along the road of life. We all have thorny patches through which we are struggling or need a helping hand. Fort Frances is a beautiful place, everyone has been very welcoming to Sarah and I, thank you for the chance to be part of your community.”

Justice Terry Waltenbury has become the first resident judge for Fort Frances in nearly 11 years. Justice Waltenbury was sworn in during a ceremony held last week at the Fort Frances Courthouse. – Allan Bradbury photo