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A descendent of former Dean Donald MacRae and Clan MacRae members enjoyed a visit to our law school

Posted by Jane Doucet on June 20, 2017 in News
(Photos: Rachael Kelly)
(Photos: Rachael Kelly)

On June 14, Daniel MacRae Boudreau brought seven members of the Canadian and North American Clan MacRae societies to the Weldon Law Building to look at the portrait of former Dean Donald MacRae (1914–24) that’s hanging in Room 104, which was unveiled in October 1958 during the law school’s 75th anniversary. The MacRae contingent was in Halifax attending the annual Clan MacRae gathering.

Boudreau is a first cousin four times removed of the former Dean and the only direct descendent of the visiting MacRaes. In addition to receiving his paralegal diploma, the Dartmouth resident has worked for Nova Scotia Legal Aid – Criminal Division and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (he still volunteers at the latter). 

The family’s historical legal connections are strong. Dean MacRae’s daughter, Jean, married into the prominent Borden family of Halifax when she wed Henry Borden, nephew of Sir Robert Laird Borden. Sir Robert Borden was an area lawyer and the president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society from 1896 to 1903.

The Clan MacRae members pictured above are: (Back row, from left) Daniel MacRae Boudreau; Allen McRae (Nanaimo, British Columbia); Larry McRae (Winston-Salem, North Carolina); Owen MacRae (White Rock, British Columbia); Bruce McRae (Wheat Ridge, Colorado). (Front row, from left) Ebby Darden (Dallas, Texas); Mary Ruth McRae (Winston-Salem); Gaylle McRae (Nanaimo).

Imparting his own sense of legal scholarship

Dean MacRae left a lasting yet quiet legacy. In the introduction of A History of Dalhousie Law School by John Willis, the author writes “it is plainly incorrect to give to [founding law school Dean Richard Chapman] Weldon a credit which rightly belongs to MacRae. It was Donald MacRae, the much under-praised successor to Weldon, who made the School academically notable by raising admission standards, bringing the curriculum into the twentieth century, and inspiring his students and young colleagues (Sidney Smith, Vincent MacDonald, and Horace Read among them) with his own sense of legal scholarship.”

Dean MacRae was also a trailblazer in the women’s rights movement. In 1915 he opened the law school to its first female law student, Frances Fish. This paved the way for equality and the many women to follow in her footsteps.

Boudreau’s visit to Weldon has made a lasting impression. “When I finished my paralegal studies, I was searching for someone to look up to in the legal world, someone to take example from,” he says. “Coming to the Weldon Law Building with Clan MacRae and seeing this portrait of Dean MacRae is a high honour for me. Two MacRae men, both with roots in Canoe Cove, P.E.I., and both with a passion for the law finally meet over a century apart – it was meant to be.”