George Carter, the first Canadian-born black judge in the country, worked as a train porter to pay his tuition
As we get older and wiser, we tend to pay more attention to the stories our parents tell. Linda Carter took things further, dedicating four years to making a documentary about her father, George Carter (BA 1945 TRIN), the first Canadian-born black judge in the country.
In The Making of a Judge, Carter highlights her father’s accomplishments, including his studies at U of T’s Trinity College and at Osgoode Hall. The oldest of 14 children, Judge Carter worked as a train porter to help pay his tuition; his own father had aspired to a career in law but was sidetracked while supporting his large family. In 1945, Judge Carter articled with the only black lawyer practising in Ontario (B.J. Spencer Pitt), then opened his own Bay Street practice – which covered real estate, family and criminal law. He was appointed to the bench in 1979. Carter says she wanted to highlight how “perseverance, intelligence and confidence in oneself can really make a difference.”
OMNI will broadcast the documentary in April. The Royal Ontario Museum screened it during Black History Month (February), and Carter also hopes that schools will show it. At the film’s first screening at Osgoode Hall, 89-year-old Judge Carter was surprised so many people were in attendance. He appears to be adjusting, however: the day after that first showing, he answered his phone with “It’s the king.”