HNATYSHYN email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-11-13 published
Edward James HOUSTON
By Jim HOUSTON, Thursday, November 13, 2003 - Page A28
Lawyer, judge, war veteran, "sports nut," father, friend to many. Born September 15, 1918, in Arnprior, Ontario Died May 27 in Ottawa, of colon cancer, aged 84.
Ed HOUSTON accomplished much in his life: He was a bomb aimer in Lancaster bombers in the Second World War, a prominent lawyer and judge in Ottawa for almost 50 years, and the National Hockey League's first arbitrator. But it was his family and Friends, not his accomplishments, which mattered most to him. Speaking at Ed's funeral in Ottawa on a sunny Friday in late May, the Honourable Patrick GALLIGAN (Ed's former law partner and long-time friend) said there are "legions of people" whose lives have been affected for the better by Ed HOUSTON.
Ed was a product of his generation -- the people that came of age in the "dirty thirties," served their country in wartime, and then made their contributions (and let off some steam) as civilians in a more prosperous post-war Canada. Born and raised in modest circumstances in the Ottawa Valley town of Arnprior, Ed left home in the Depression to find work. He ended up working in a drug store in Schumacher, Ontario, near Timmins. There he met a Torontonian, Joe GREENE, who was to become his best friend and my godfather. Like thousands of other young Canadians, Ed volunteered for military service in the Second World War. His air force days changed his life. In January, 1944, he was shot down over Berlin, with five of seven aboard perishing, and became a prisoner of war for 15 months (he escaped in April, 1945). The veteran's benefits he earned through his wartime service gave him the opportunity to attend the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School, which opened the door to a successful career and countless Friendships in the legal fraternity. While at university, Ed met and married Mary McKAY of Galt, Ontario, and the first of their two sons, Bill, was born. In 1950 they moved to Ottawa where Ed began his legal career as an assistant Crown attorney. Later -- as a lawyer in private practice and then as a judge -- Ed became known for helping younger lawyers learn the ropes.
Ed was, by his own admission, a "sports nut." As a participant, golf was his passion -- and on the course he was known as Steady Eddie for his straight drives and sure putting. As a spectator, he was an avid fan of almost every sport. Even in the final days of his life, when you handed him a newspaper -- another benign addiction of his -- he would still dive for the sports section, and be lost in it for hours. On the day before his death, he rejoiced in the Blue Jays having just swept the Yankees in a four-game series.
As a judge, Ed had to make lots of tough decisions. However, the decisions that got him the most publicity took place outside the courtroom, in his capacity as arbitrator for the National Hockey League. In 1991, Brendan SHANAHAN became a free agent and jumped from the New Jersey Devils to the St. Louis Blues. Under the free-agency compensation regime then in effect, Ed had to decide which player the Blues would have to give to the Devils as compensation for signing SHANAHAN. When Ed chose defenseman Scott STEVENS (who captained the Devils to the Stanley Cup earlier this year), his decision was greeted with a storm of media criticism. But Ed never second-guessed himself, and moved on.
In a letter Ed received a couple of years ago, another friend of his, the late Ray HNATYSHYN, former Governor-General of Canada, summed up how he will be remembered by family, Friends and acquaintances alike: "Ed, you have served your community, province and country with great distinction, and I am privileged to call you my friend." My sentiments exactly.
Jim HOUSTON is Ed's son.
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