A New Beginning, 1953-63

AuthorC. Ian Kyer
M C hapter N
A slow economic growth, “Canada was . . . embarked
onthegreatestperiodofdevelopmentinallherhistorya ndtradepro
duction, income and real wealth all continued a spect acular, if sometimes
jagged, rise.” Luckilyther msbusinesslaw practicewas in apositionto
grow alongside the economy, having been freed from t he personal limita
tions of Alex Fasken. Economic expansion meant that business lawyers were
much in demand. People were starting new businesses that needed to be
whichoften meant mergersand acquisitions All these activitiesca lledfor
the special skil ls that business lawyers possessed, esp ecially now that gov
ernment had grown accustomed to having a large say in t he economy.
Therewashoweveronemajorhurdletoovercomethermhad only
a few business lawyers. At the time of J.W. Pickup’s departure the on ly law
yersin therm ofeight partnerswho hadany claimto sucha designation
were Calvin, MacKenzie, and Menzel. Two partners, Aitchison and Rob
inson were aging gri nderswho conducted the rms real estate practice
JDPickupwasa litigatorof lilevalue tot herm JFRobertsonwas not
the lawyer his father had been; he had his own practice i n estates. It soon
became clear to Calvin th at he needed more business lawyers.
New, talented people began to be recruited in numbers not seen since
theturn ofthecenturyFortherstti mesincethenthe rmreachedfte en
lawyers, and then surpassed th at number by the end of the decade with
seventeen Signicantly none oft he seventeen was a member of the old
guard; Aitchison, Robinson, J.D. Pickup, and J.F. Robertson would all leave
ingthermasastrongcorporatecommercia lpracticeandtrainingt henext
generationoflawyerstoleaditinthelastquarterofthetwentiethcent ury
As this period of growth b egan, Calvin and MacKenzie, two of the t hree
membersofthemanagementcommieeweret hemosthighlycompensated
Theonlyotherbrightlightsont hermsimmediatehorizonwereWilliston
andMen zelI nt heSeptemb erallocation of protsCa lvin wasalone
atthe top with perc entMacKenzie was a distant second at percent
followedbythe moreseniorA itchisonat percentJDPickupWilliston
andMenzel wereallatp ercentJBRobinsongot percentandJFRob
ertsonpercentTh eremaining percentwasunalloc atedandavailablefor
bonuses or new hires.
partners tried Gordon V. Armstrong, who had articled at Mason Foulds.
HelastedonlyoneyearThentheybroughtinJohnMGu nninbuthe
lastedonly until  They were more fortunate with Fraser Fell and Bill
SwackhamerwhojoinedinandwithDavidTaylorin Bob Suth
Fell was called to the bar in In his qu iet softspokenmeas ured
way, he would prove to be one of the great business lawyers of his era. He
was a tireless worker who commanded instant respect and “never made a
dum b stat ement .”Hearactedmuchworktothermandhelpedcontinue
Calvinseortstorebuilditspositionasa corporatelawrmHehisuncle
and his brother Tonywerelater said to have a bluebloodfamily air for
n an ce
JamesWilliam BillSwackhamer joinedt herm asa lawyerthe same
yearasFellbuthehadta kenadierentroadthere andwastoservea very
dierentroleHewas borni ninBarton Ontario His father, Edward
Swackhamer, was a house painter. As a young man Bill started at McMaster
University but with the war raging in Europe he then enl isted in the Royal
Canadian Navy, serving with Canada’s naval escort operations in the North
Atlanticand aaining theran kofl ieutenantcommanderAftert hewar he
nished his BAat McMastergraduating in  Hesta rtedh isar ticlesi n
LawSchool where he rstmet WalterWil liston InTorontohe completed
his articles with John A rnup, then returned to Hamilton to start his legal

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