Remembering Gordon Turriff Q.C.
June 16, 2020
BY Kathleen Cunningham
BCLI is saddened to learn of the passing of Gordon Turriff Q.C. on June 3, 2020. As a founding member and director of the BCLI, Gordon has always been a part of the extended BCLI family. Many have written, and will undoubtedly continue to write, about Gordon’s numerous contributions to the profession as a lawyer, academic, Bencher and President of the Law Society of BC and more.
BCLI remembers Gordon for his contributions to the BCLI and his dedication to ensuring its success.
Gordon’s association with the BCLI predates the establishment of the BCLI as the functional successor to the BC Law Reform Commission (BC LRC) in January 1997. In the early 1980s Gordon had written an article in the Advocate that touched on the history and characteristics of the Sheriff’s office. Arthur Close Q.C., a former commissioner and Chairman of the BC LRC, and a member emeritus on the board of the BCLI, recalls that “it left the impression there was much more to be said.” The Chair of the BC LRC at the time was the Hon. Mr. Justice John Aikins who knew Gordon through his Clerkship at the Court of Appeal. A proposal was developed for the BC LRC to engage Gordon to write a Study Paper devoted to the Office of the Sheriff. The Law Foundation of BC agreed to fund the project and the result was what may still be the definitive work on this topic – a study paper on “The Office of the Sheriff”. The nearly 250-page report included a chapter on Execution by Allard Hall Professor Elizabeth Edinger. It was the first study paper issued by the BC LRC. The main aim of the study was to produce a compendium of sheriff law which would prove useful both in British Columbia and, incidentally, in other jurisdictions. The authors of the study paper also made some suggestions for legislative reform. But, given the times, the report made it clear that the recommendations were made by the authors, not the BC LRC. Copies of the study paper were shared with the ministry and made available to Court Services and other interested persons and bodies.
Gordon continued to follow the work of the BC LRC and when the BC LRC lost its funding from government in 1996 Gordon was there to support the incorporation of the BC Law Institute (BCLI) in January 1997. As a founding member of the BCLI, Gordon continued to serve on the board until 2005. He served as treasurer from 1997-2000 and secretary from 2000-2002.
In 2001 BCLI struck a committee to study the legal issues affecting seniors. Gordon was a member of the committee which went on to publish two important reports: “Private Care Agreements Between Older Adults and Friends or Family Members” (2002) and “Report on Financial Arrangements Between Older Adults and Family Members: Loans and Guarantees” (2004). This work was the catalyst that led to BCLI establishing the Canadian Centre for Elder Law Studies as a division of the BCLI, now the Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL). The CCEL is a vital part of the BCLI and celebrated its 15th Anniversary in 2018.
On a personal note I recall answering a call from Gordon in 2007 in his capacity as a Bencher of the Law Society of BC. He asked me if I would consider being the society’s appointee to the board of the BCLI. How does one refuse a request from Gordon? Having completed seven years on the BCLI project to modernize the Trustee Act, I was honoured to accept the appointment, and for the opportunity to continue my relationship with BCLI. I am forever indebted for his support and encouragement.
On behalf of myself, BCLI staff and our Board of directors, our thoughts are with Gordon’s family and friends at this time.
 See also The Advocate Vol 67 Part 1 January 2009, issued in the year Gordon began his term as President of the Law Society of BC.