Fonds F1399 - Nolan family fonds

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Nolan family fonds


  • [ca. 1862-2004] (Creation)

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Extent and medium

50 cm of textual records.
ca. 1400 photographs

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Patrick James “Paddy” Nolan, 1862-1913, was born in Limerick, Ireland and trained as a lawyer at Trinity College, Dublin. He came to Calgary, Alberta in 1889 and served for a short time as editor of the Calgary Herald. He established a legal practice and continued to supply news to the paper. Nolan specialized in criminal defence work and was noted for his courtroom abilities. In 1892 he married Mary Elizabeth Lee, 1868-1964, daughter of Thomas, 1842-1912, and Margaret Lee, 1844-1917, and sister of Florence Rosetta “Flora” Lee, 1873-1967, all of whom had moved to Calgary in 1884. Paddy and Mary had one son, Henry Grattan "Harry" Nolan, 1893-1957 who also became a lawyer.

Harry received a BA from the University of Alberta in 1914 and was awarded a Rhodes scholarship in 1915. However, he joined the armed forces and received the Military Cross for service in France. Harry then attended Oxford and received his legal degree in 1921. He returned to Calgary and was associated with the firm of Bennett, Hannah & Sanford [now Bennett Jones]. During World War II he served with the Canadian Army, becoming a Vice-Judge Advocate General. After the war Harry was a prosecutor before the International Military Tribunal in Tokyo. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1956.

In 1928 Harry married Doris Margery McCarter, 1898-1993, daughter of Calgary/Revelstoke lawyer George Smith McCarter, 1867-1942, and his wife Katherine Clothilde “Katie”, 1873-1967. Katie was the daughter of Banff Park official Howard Douglas, 1850-1929, and his wife Alice Maud Johnston. Harry and Doris had two daughters, Shelagh (Lester), 1931-, and Moira Douglas “Tree” Nolan, 1934-2015. Moira was educated at St. Hilda’s School for Girls in Calgary.

For further information see He Left Them Laughing When He Said Goodbye : The Life and Times of Frontier Lawyer Paddy Nolan / Grant MacEwan. - Saskatoon : Western Producer Prairie Books, 1987; Louis A. Knafla's entry "Patrick James Nolan" in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, volume XIV. -- Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1998, p. 782-784; Shelagh Nolan [Lester]'s article, "A Young Girl in the Old West" in Beaver. -- (August/September 1986), p. 49-55; and "Henry Grattan Nolan" in The Supreme Court of Canada and its Justices / Toronto: Dundurn, 2000, p. 136.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gifts of Shelagh Lester, Alison Lester, Brian Lester, and David Lester, 1964-2016.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of a legal certificates, correspondence and other items regarding Paddy; speeches and correspondence by Henry Nolan about legal matters and his work in Japan; small files of documents and photographs of the Douglas, McCarter, Nolan and Lee families in Banff and Calgary; and Henry’s service in Japan.

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Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access.

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Language of material

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      Language and script notes

      The material is in English.

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      Notes area


      Title based on contents of records.


      Sheilagh Lester is granddaughter of Paddy & Mary and Alison Lester, David Lester and Brian Lester are his great-grandchildren.

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      Level of detail

      Dates of creation revision deletion

      Thursday, November 29, 2018




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