The Honourable David Ritchie Chipman, K.C. was born in Halifax on May 2, 1930, the son of H. Ritchie Chipman and E. Freda (Bissett) Chipman. He grew up mainly in Halifax and Hubbards, and attended Tower Road School, Devonshire School in Ottawa, and Queen Elizabeth High School.
David grew up during World War II, and his youth was marked by interesting events, including the Coronation of King George VI in May, 1937. As a teenager, he witnessed the famous V.E. Day riots in Halifax in May, 1945.
David attended Dalhousie University, graduating with a BA in 1951 and an LLB in 1953. He was awarded the Smith Shield for proficiency in the law school moot court. He received a number of academic awards, including the University Medal in Law for the highest standing in the Law Class of 1953.
Following graduation, David articled with C.W. Burchell, Q.C. and H.P. MacKeen, Q.C. and was called to the Bar in 1953. Days later he married Carolyn Christie and was thereafter dependent on her love and support in everything he did.
David practiced law with Stewart McKelvey and its predecessor firms until his appointment to the Appeal Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia (later Nova Scotia Court of Appeal). His elevation to the Bench represented the fifth generation of Ritchie family judges. He sat on the Court for nearly 18 years until his mandatory retirement at the age of 75. He served on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Judges Conference and chaired the Independence of the Judiciary Committee for several years.
As a lawyer, David specialized in civil litigation and appeared regularly before Nova Scotia courts and tribunals and on numerous occasions before the Supreme Court of Canada. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1968. His clientele varied from humble people, many of whom he served without fee, to large and powerful organizations. He believed that a lawyer should always listen carefully to what the client had to say, and he believed a lawyer could learn much from his client. David was renowned as a powerful litigator and highly regarded for his honesty, integrity and as noted by one author, his “straight arrow nature.”
During his legal career David participated extensively in professional education programs, delivering papers before legal and other professional societies, and was actively involved in many moot court programs. He was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Federation of Insurance Counsel. He was a member of the Canadian Bar Association Special Committee on the Independence of the Judiciary in Canada. He was a Life Fellow of the Foundation for Legal Research. He loved practicing law and being a judge, and was a raconteur who revelled in trading old war stories with other lawyers and judges.
He was a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society’s Council and served on numerous committees. David was elected President of the Society in 1982 – 83. He was chosen Honorary President of the Society for 2006 – 2007.
Justice J.W.S. Saunders, in paying tribute to his colleague on his retirement, said of Justice Chipman; “The breadth of his knowledge, his experience, his keen sense of justice, and his ability to practically and incisively apply these qualities were obvious from the moment he joined the Court. He sat on 1,209 panels in cases where written decisions are reported …To gain an appreciation for the breadth of David’s knowledge of the law one need only sample a few leading cases he authored….”
Over the years, David was active in the community, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the IWK Hospital, Chairman of the Halifax School Board, a member of the Halifax Infirmary and Chairman of the Committee of Consultation and Advice of the Cathedral Church of All Saints. He took pride in the fact that he and his law partner William Mingo, Q.C. sponsored the first woman to become a member of The Halifax Club.
David firmly believed that service in a political party was one of the highest forms of public service. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served the Progressive Conservative Party in numerous capacities, from poll worker in elections to Director of the PC Canada Fund. In the course of this service, he made many life-long friends whose association he valued highly.
David was devoted to his family and spent every summer in Hubbards from 1933 up to and including 2022. He was a founding member of the Hubbards Yacht Club, and along with other early members helped build the first club house. He was a former member of Ashburn Golf Club, The Halifax Club, Halifax Curling Club and Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. He had an inexhaustible supply of stories and trivia he would share at the drop of a hat, over a drink or otherwise. He was formerly a Chevalier of the Confrerie de Chevaliers du Tastevin. In 1992 he received the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
In their retirement years, David and Carolyn travelled extensively, mostly by ship, to many places, including the Caribbean, South America, South Africa, the Far East, the Middle East, Europe the Black Sea, the Baltic, Bermuda and the United States.
David volunteered with the Nova Scotia Barristers Society, presiding at moot court trials and appearing as a guest lecturer at Dalhousie Law School, well into his 80’s. He took up duplicate bridge after retirement, became a Life Master at age 80 and ultimately reached the rank of Silver Life Master. David took delight in the fact that so late in life and separated from the camaraderie of the workplace, he found a pursuit where he made interesting new friends. He liked long walks and could be seen (with his walking stick) strolling briskly along the sidewalks of the city or the back roads of Hubbards.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, his three sons, Peter Ritchie Chipman, Jamie (Honourable Justice James L. Chipman) his wife Carol, their daughter Christie and her husband Mitchell DuTrizac, Bob (Robert D. Chipman, K.C.) his wife Stephanie, their daughters, Charlotte, and Haley (Brent MacAdam), and their daughters, Stella and Lucia. He was predeceased by his older brother, Dr. C. Donaldson Chipman and survived by his younger sister, Mary (Dr. Norman Layton). He is also survived by his two sisters-in-law, Mary Lou Payzant and Janet Hopkins, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will take place at JA Snow Funeral Home, 339 Lacewood Drive, Halifax on Wednesday, May 3 from 6 – 8 p.m. A funeral service and internment will be held in the Cathedral Church of All Saints, 1340 Cathedral Lane, Halifax on Thursday, May 4 at 11 a.m. with a reception to follow in the church hall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Victorian Order of Nurses or Prescott Group.