John N. Conroy
John Newberry Conroy (1894-1985)
John Conroy was born on 28 January 1894 in Charlottetown, PEI and was baptised a week later (Feb.4) in St. Dunstan’s Basilica. He was born to Peter Conroy, M.D., and Emma Newberry. He had at least two brothers, Frederick Boice (b. 1884), and Francis Arthur (b. 1888). John was the youngest of the three children.
John attended St. Dunstan’s College from 1907-1912. In the middle of his studies he traveled to Rockcliffe Range in Ottawa to compete, as a cadet, at the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association Prize Meeting. (Charlottetown Guardian, 20 Aug. 1910). His skill with the rifle was put to the test in WWI.
John served with the 43rd Canadian Field Artillery and the 2nd Heavy Battery from 1916-1919. According to his attestation papers, John was five feet five inches, had light brown hair with blue eyes, and a “fresh” complexion.
After his time in the war, John continued his studies at Dalhousie to earn a law degree. After graduating, he moved to New Battleford, Saskatchewan, and opened a law practice with his brother Fred.
John married Mabel Roberta Burns on 23 December 1927 in Hafford, Saskatchewan.
On 1 June 1935, John was appointed the King’s Counsel. He would continue practicing law until he died on 1 November 1985 at the age of 91. During his time in Saskatchewan, he was described as “colourful” and “legendary”:
John N. Conroy, Q.C. of Saskatoon, ninety-one years young, is a retired lawyer who practised for over fifty years in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. A colourful, legendary figure in legal circles, Mr. Conroy, could always be counted on to say something humourous, in person or in print. Once, representing a client who had allegedly sold an impotent bull, he held up the proceedings for [sic] some time by insisting that his opponent supply particulars which would enable him to assess his client's position - such information as the kind of surroundings provided for the bull's romantic intervals, the kind of food served to the bull and the kind of music played for him. Another time, after skirmishing with a cranky judge, he was asked by His Honour: “Mr. Conroy, are you trying to show your contempt for this court?" “No," he replied, “I'm trying to conceal it." (Court Jesters, p. 77).
Conroy’s cheekiness is evident many years earlier, in his St. Dunstan's days. In the UPEI Provenance collection, the book, Lord Bacon by Lord Macaulay, John “re-wrote" a famous Irish proverb inside the front cover. It reads:
Remember me as you pass by/ As you are now so once was I/ As I am now you soon shall be/ Eat your Bacon and follow me.
John also signed and dated the passage February 1909 S.D. College.
Baptismal Record of John Newberry Conroy. Public Archives and Record Office, Prince Edward Island. Record Book Number: 5. Record Book Page: 64.
Canadian Attestation Papers. RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 1928 - 47.
Census of Canada. Year: 1901; Census Place: Charlottetown (City/Cité), Queen's (west/ouest), Prince Edward Island; Page: 1; Family No: 2
Census of Canada. Year: 1911; Census Place: 59 - Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island; Page: 3; Family No: 25
P. Conroy, “The Descendants of Thomas Conroy and Marie Herron", accessed July 5, 2016.
“Islander Honoured." The Guardian (Charlottetown), June 1, 1935.
“The Latest News, First of All." The Guardian (Charlottetown), August 20, 1910, p.13.
“Lost in the Great War." Dalhousie University. Accessed June 29, 2016.
MacDonald, Peter V. Court Jesters: Canada's Lawyers & Judges Take the Stand to
Relate Their Funniest Stories. Toronto: Methuen, 1985.
“Saskatchewan Obituary Index." Saskatchewan Genealogical Society: Obituary Index. Accessed June 29, 2016.