The Honourable Stanley Roy Kurisko
June 24, 1928 – October 10, 2019
Stanley Kurisko spent 65 years in The Law. He was called to The Bar of Ontario on June 24, 1954, and designated a Queen’s Counsel in 1967. He was federally appointed a judge of the District Court of the Judicial District of Thunder Bay on September 21, 1979. In 1984, District and County Court judges were translated to the new District Court of Ontario. In 1991, the District Court merged with the Supreme Court of Ontario, Trial Division, into what eventually became known as the Superior Court of Ontario. When Stan ceased to hold office as a Superior Court Justice on June 24, 2003, he continued his life in The Law as a member of ADR Chambers. He died October 10, 2019.
As a judge, Stan was known for his capacity to make decisions and for his innovation.
Long before civil and criminal pre-trials became established in Ontario, Stan was a driving judicial force behind a civil and criminal pre-trial system in Northwestern Ontario. The result was that backlogs were eliminated and Stan was invited to sit throughout Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. The evidence of his success can be seen in his hundreds of written decisions on a broad variety of subjects which are reported in Quick Law, Ontario Reports, Family Law Reporter and other law reports.
The quality of Stan’s intellect and his willingness to work appeared at an early age. He spent his early years with his parents in logging camps northwest of Sault Ste. Marie where he was home-schooled by his mother. At the age of seven, Stan was enrolled in Grade 2 in King Edward Public School in the Sault. He was quickly moved to Grade 5. Stan is a graduate of Sault Collegiate, Victoria College, University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School (with Honours).
Stan’s ability to make correct decisions showed itself in his youth. As an executive of the Victoria College Union hosting a frosh/freshie night, he knew immediately he met first year student, Joan Skelton, he wanted to marry her. And he did. They would have celebrated their sixty-eighth wedding anniversary on October 19.
Following his call to the Bar, Stan began practice in his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. Realizing the in-depth experience to be gained in the development of the pre-planned “model town” of Elliot Lake to service the burgeoning uranium mine, he practiced first in nearby Blind River and then moved to Elliot Lake to eventually become the resident lawyer for 20,000 people. Joan and two children joined him to reside in their uncompleted bungalow. With only two years of settled living, they soon realized the U.S. contracts for uranium would not be renewed. Consequently, Stan began building a practice in the Sault while winding up a lucrative foreclosure practice in Elliot Lake. Joan, with their four children stayed in Elliot Lake to sell their recently completed bungalow and supervise the move to the Sault.
Stan practiced in partnerships with Jim Kelleher, Terry Murphy, John Culina, Pat Fitzgerald, John Walker, and Thornley Virene. He was involved in all areas of criminal, civil and municipal litigation (jury and non-jury) representing plaintiffs, defendants, insurers, husbands, wives, the wealthy and the impecunious, regularly attending motions, taxations and Courts of Appeal in Toronto.
As a member of the Williston Committee in the late 1970’s and then the Rules Committee, he participated in formulating recommendations subsequently incorporated in Rules of Practice. He was one of two counsel, (the other being John de Pencier Wright, as he then was) in August, 1978, to argue a demonstration motion by telephone conference from Sault Ste. Marie heard by the Senior Master sitting in Toronto.
Active in community service, Stan held the office of president of both the Elliot Lake and Sault Ste. Marie Chambers of Commerce, president of the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA, and president of Ontario Association for Community Living (as it is now called). For his service to Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay, he was designated an Honorary Lifetime Board Member.
The hub of his recreation and physical well-being was the year-round family cottage on the rugged shore of Lake Superior. There, he fired-up saunas, chopped wood, barbecued, played bridge, cross-country skied, swam, napped, hiked, worked, and interacted with family and friends while immersed in the many moods of the Lake. Winter weekends were spent downhill skiing with the family. Ever appreciative was he of the scenic drive from his home at Amethyst Harbor to the District Court House in Thunder Bay and his judicial chambers overlooking Lake Superior.
In their later years, Stan and Joan moved to Guelph to be near family.
Central in Stan’s life were his wife, Joan, and their children, Dr. Kathryn Hunt (Kurisko), late Blake Kurisko, wife Jane; Dr. Lee Kurisko; Andrea Kurisko; eleven grandchildren, Carla Hunt, Bryce Hunt, Brett Hunt, Cayli Hunt, Jeffrey Wiebe, Samantha Connolly, Daniel Kurisko, Carolyn Kurisko, Diana Kurisko; Cameron Kurisko, Danika Kurisko; his mother, the late Mary Chekman; and five great grandchildren, Oscar, Jack, and Milo Wiebe; Max and Keira Ellis; a succession of five dogs. And The Law.
Services for Stan will be held at the Gilbert MacIntyre and Son Funeral Home, Hart Chapel, 1099 Gordon Street, Guelph, Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 1p.m. Donations to The Myositis Organization, Hospice Wellington or Magnus Theatre would be appreciated.