Honoured by Blake and Rita, Jack and Gwen, Don and Diane.
This is the story of George and Sybil Wallace, offspring of two North Bay pioneer families. It is also the story of 2 families hit hard by the Depression, War, and the loss of their parents at a very young age.
Born in North Bay on Nov. 2nd, 1912, George was the son of “Black Jack” and Lovie Wallace. The Wallaces were a founding family and ran the brickyard for several generations. Sybil Carr was born on Feb 23rd, 1914 in Truro, Nova Scotia. Her father was a Superintendent with the CPR who came here when the railway was being built.
George lost his parents when he was in university. George had five siblings including; Ken, Drs. Harold and Gerald, Bae and Audrey. Sybil lost her father while still in school. She had three siblings; Fred, Isobel Hambley, and Bob. Together, Sybil and George have three children, Blake, Jack and Don, nine grandchildren, and now one great grandchild.
In spite of losing his parents, George pursued his education. With a law degree in hand, George returned to North Bay and started practicing in 1936. He boarded on Main Street and ate at the Chicago Restaurant for $5 a week. He helped many local Chinese people bring their families over here.
In High School Sybil pitched for the Rinky Dinks, a local girl’s baseball team that won the Provincial Championship. She attended the North Bay Normal School and got her teaching degree. She taught in several remote areas including Callander, and Loring. She ended her teaching career in Sudbury.
George and Sybil were married on Valentine’s Day, 1942. George enlisted, and left Sybil and sons, Blake, and Jack while he went off to war to serve as a Captain in England with the PEI Highlanders in Patton’s “shadow army”. He was also posted briefly as a lawyer to the Nuremberg War Trials.
Throughout the years, George established a well-respected law firm. Many local lawyers learned their craft from him. He was appointed a QC in 1951 and a Family Court Judge in 1956. He was awarded the first Law Society medal for excellence in the profession in 1985. He was one of the founders of Legal Aid in Ontario. He served 9 years as a Bencher of the LSUC. He founded Mangouch Lodge, a group home for children; the first in Ontario. He was very involved in the Museum Society. He was the driving force behind the building of the new Court House. He was on the building committee for the YMCA.
In his practice, George was a pre-eminent counsel in Ontario, and appeared in the courts up the Supreme Court of Canada. A number of his cases changed the law in Canada; including a change in the wording on our paper money, and allowing the first adoption of a catholic child by a non-catholic family in Ontario. He also was counsel when our local mayor was removed from office. He was involved in developing Pinewood Park, Marshall Park, and Nosbonsing Park. He handled many murder trials, and high profile civil actions.
Sybil in the meantime was raising the children, and becoming very involved in golf, curling, and politics. The Esperanza Club was a particular favorite, and she and her friends organized many charitable social events. She competed across the north in curling and golf. She was involved in the building of the Curling Club, and won the battle to have women as members. She was a great hostess and they entertained in their home such prominent people as; PM John Diefenbaker, Premier John Robarts, and Gov-Gen. Roland Michener
George practiced law for 55 years and ended his career in partnership with 2 sons and his brother-in-law, Bob. The firm he founded continues to flourish. He was 80 years old and still practicing law and playing tennis when he died in 1992.
Sybil continued to be involved with her grandchildren and to live on her own. She loved to travel to Toronto, and to entertain the family at the annual Christmas party at her condo until her death in 2006 the age of 92.
This is also a love story with a rich history. George and Sybil left their mark on the City of North Bay, and their legacy has been their children and grandchildren; many of whom continue to live in here and contribute to their community.