November 23, 1931 – February 15, 2016
Constance Glube was a trailblazer who rose to the highest ranks of the Canadian legal profession, traditionally dominated by men. She was a champion of the rights of minorities and women, and a mentor for women in the law. Glube spent her career committed to overcoming the gender, ethnic and religious barriers of her era.
The daughter of Pearl and Sam Lepofsky, active members of Ottawa’s Jewish community, Glube graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Que., in 1952 and from Dalhousie University’s law school in Halifax, N.S., in 1955. At a time when few women attended law school, no less practised in the profession, she began a journey of many firsts for women and the law. Glube was one of only two women in her graduating class, and after graduation she remained in Nova Scotia, where she married and established her career.
Glube began her career at Kitz Matheson and was later a partner at Fitzgerald and Glube. In 1969, she joined the City of Halifax legal department and became city manager, the first woman to hold that position in any Canadian city. In 1977, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Glube to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, making her the first woman to serve as a justice on that court. In 1982, she was promoted to chief justice of Nova Scotia, becoming the first woman to head a Canadian provincial court. This was a huge feat in an era where men dominated the bench. In 1998, she became the chief justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal—the province’s highest court—and held the position until her retirement in 2004.
Glube, who was awarded both the Order of Nova Scotia in 2005 and the Order of Canada in 2006, is recognized as a pioneer of her time—a leader and role model for women across professional boundaries. Volunteerism and mentorship were at the core of her ethos. She embraced core tenants of the Jewish faith, including her commitment to human dignity and basic rights.
Glube demonstrated profound commitment to the administration of justice as a lawyer and judge, to gender equality as a feminist and leader, to Judaism through involvement in her synagogue and local community, and in her support for the State of Israel, and to her family as a devoted wife, mother and grandmother.
Reflecting on Glube’s legacy, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada said she was a woman of vision, and she had the energy to realize that vision. She left the Canadian justice system richer and more effective than she found it. We are all indebted to her. In 2009, the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Bar Association established the Constance R. Glube CBA Spirit Award to recognize achievement in law by Nova Scotian women lawyers.
Featured Photo: Constance Glube, Courts of Nova Scotia, [ca. 2000] Courtesy of the Office of the Nova Scotia Judiciary