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John Edward Gibben (1894-1958)

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery

The Whitehorse Star - Thursday, January 30, 1958

Death of Judge Gibben Saddens Community, Many Years In North - 1958

    Shock and sympathy swept through Whitehorse this week when residents learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Mr. Justice J. E. Gibben. Judge Gibben died at 10 am Tuesday morning following a heart attack which struck some time Sunday night.

    A courteous and gentlmanly figure, the Yukon Judge was well liked and respected by citizens in all walks of life. Although not an old man he was of "the old school" which enabled him to remain politely above much of the day to day hurly-burly of smalltown life.

    As well as leaving a gap in the lives of his friends, his death will upset the regular process of the assizes which were scheduled here for early in February.

    It is expected Northwest Territories Judge Sissons will be asked to handle cases now awaiting trial. He is coming from Yellowkpife either February 3 or 17, according to legal circles here. One of his duties will be to swear in the new City Council, a duty which the late Judge Gibben had been looking forward to eagerly. He had planned a ceremony in the courtroom similar to the practice followed Outside.

Born In England

    John Edward Gibben was born June 19, 1895 in Middlesborough, Yorkshire, England. The family came to Canada in 1896 and settled in Winnipeg where the late Judge received his education. He went overseas with the infantry in 1914 and was invalided home in 1917. After the war he attended University of Manitoba, where he graduated with a law degree and was called to the Manitoba bar in 1921.

    He practised law in Winnipeg. From 1930 until 1938 he was a member of the firm of Coleman, Swail and Gibben. He left the firm to become stipendiary magistrate for Northwest Territories in 1938. During these years he lived in Yellowknife. About 1941 he and Mrs. Gibben came to Dawson, where the Judge acted as stipendiary magistrate for Yukon as well as Indian agent. In 1946 he was appointed Commissioner of the Territory. He resigned from this position in 1950. In September that year, he was appointed Judge of the Territorial Court.

    His first wife, Ina, died in January 1950. The Judge married the former Rhoda MacDonald in the summer of 1941. Besides his wife, the Judge leaves one daughter, Barbara, 14. A brother, Paul, lives in Murillo, Ontario and two sisters, Mrs. Crystal Barber and Mrs. Robert Beath in Toronto.

    The Judge was a past disttrict deputy grand master in the Masonic Lodge. Funeral services for the late Judge will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, at the First Presbyterian Church. Rev. J. Brown-Milne will conduct the service, assisted by Army Padre A. J. Alfred.

    Pall bearers will be Commissioner F. H. Collins, Inspector J. Parsons, Mayor G. R. Armstrong, Stewart Enderton, Bert Boyd and Allan Bate.