The Smith/Jarvis Trial

AuthorC. Ian Kyer
The Smith/Jarvis Trial
O  16 October, Jarvis and the other defendants
assembled at the court with their counsel to petition Chief
Justice Meredith for more time to prepare and for particu-
lars of the case they would have to meet.1
It is hard to imagine, but just the day before Jarvis had led a fox
hunt.2 As master of the hunt for the Toronto and North York Hunt
Club and as a member of both the Toronto Hunt Club and the Eglin-
ton Hunt Club, he regularly rode to the hounds. It was a challenging
hunt, lasting two hours and covering twelve miles. But more import-
antly, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) was visiting
and was the guest of honour for the hunt.3 It had started at the farm
of Sir William Mulock, just south of Newmarket, and had ranged over
several adjacent farms and wooded areas. At one point, the prince, a
skilled rider but unfamiliar with the terrain, was thrown from his
horse at a jump. One of Jarvis’s grooms was riding behind the prince
and quickly came to his aid. The prince was unhurt and undeterred
and resumed the hunt, promptly rejoining Jarvis and the other lead-
ers and participating in the kill.
The hunt on Thursday was not nearly as enjoyable and very dif-
ferently focused. It was a hunt for more time and more information.
The person who would decide whether the defence got these was again
The OnTariO BOnd Scandal Of 1924 re-examined
Chief Justice Meredith. In one sense, it is not surprising that as chief
justice Meredith would choose himself to preside over this high-prof‌ile
case. Nevertheless, he was not the right choice in the circumstances.
His older brother William had been the leader of the Conservative
Party for f‌ifteen years, and even after he had gone to the bench, Wil-
liam had continued as a political adviser to the Conservative govern-
ment.4 Premier Ferguson, who was a key player in the process that had
resulted in the prosecution, had been an important member of that
Conservative government and was a family friend.5 In fact, Ferguson
had articled with William Meredith, who had been both a legal and
a political mentor.6 In a case that many saw as politically motivated,
one would have expected the choice of a judge who was not so closely
tied to the party and the premier responsible for bringing the charges.
There were other reasons why Meredith was not the best choice.
His younger brother Vincent was the president of the Bank of Mont-
real, which acted as the province’s agent for bond purchases in Eng-
land.7 At the committee hearings, Price had used purchases made by
the Bank of Montreal to establish the “market price” for the bonds
and suggested that the bank, not Jarvis, should have conducted the
bond purchases.
These potential conf‌licts of interest would have been well known
to the defence counsel, but no motion for recusal, asking Meredith to
step aside and appoint another judge, was brought.8 This deference to
Meredith and acceptance of his rulings would be a theme in the trial.
Meredith suf‌fered from another disability. He had never had
much experience with commercial contracting or the bond markets.
He was a seventy-seven-year-old judge with twenty-four years on the
bench following a practice as a barrister in the equity courts.9
As previously noted, Meredith came to the trial with good know-
ledge of the Crown’s case, having personally presided over the grand
jury proceedings that had determined that Smith, Jarvis, and the
others should stand trial.10 It was also clear that he accepted the
Crown’s theory of the case and believed the accused to be guilty. His
behaviour suggests that he saw his role as securing a conviction and
preventing the four very able defence counsel from playing lawyerly
tricks to the detriment of justice. He would later blame the length of

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