Law degree from the University of Edinburgh, Master's from McGill, further Law degree from the University of Ottawa, and a Doctorate of Civil Law from McGill.
I was born in Baillieston, Scotland in 1952. My christened name, Eugene, is an uncommon one in Scotland. You can imagine the hazing I took growing up in a country where most everyone seemed to be called Jamie, Archie, Caitlin or Megan. My grandmother, Madeleine Thorel was French from Normandy. She married a Scottish soldier named John Doig at the end of World War I. Although they settled in Scotland and raised their family there, my grandmother was never really able to blend in because she really didn't speak English (or Scottish). She insisted on only two conditions to her new husband: that the children be raised Catholic and that their names be French. As it turned out, whenever she spoke English, I learned French. My mother was Bernadette, and consequently "je m'appelle Eugène".
I'm no. 2 in a family of five boys. I had to stand on my own two feet at an early age, and I was sent off to school in England "to learn to speak English proper". Like my grandmother, it didn't work either. My fondest memory of my grandmother was making toast over the coal fire in her house in winter — hot toast, cold butter, steaming tea. It was one of the few occasions she'd open up and tell me of her youth in France — a foreign exotic world on another planet to me. She spoke of the war, and what my grandfather was like as a young man. They both died in their late 70's less than a year apart. I miss her still. I now live in an old house in Ottawa — with a coal fire — and make toast with my own children. Tell them of my grandmother, and a wee bit about me.
After graduating from the University of Edinburgh (LL.B., 1975), I was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue an LL.M. (1977) at McGill University. In the Québec milieu, I (mis)treated Montréalers to French spoken with a Celtic accent. People thought I was from northern Québec ... way north (some figured I came from Abitibi Temiscamingue). I did a second LL.B. (1978) at the University of Ottawa, and then a Doctorate in Law (1984) back at McGill.
A teaching opportunity drew me to Edmonton where I was a Law Professor at the University of Alberta. During eight years in western Canada, I articled and practised law in Edmonton and hiked and kayaked in the Rockies. I also gained insight into life in northern Canada. I later dog-sledded at -30°C in Yellowknife. On another occasion, I was one of two white people invited to a large Indian ceremony at the Capilano Longhouse in North Vancouver. The beauty of the aboriginal masked dancing, food, and spiritual customs is a continuing strong memory. So are the husky dog bite marks on my right knee. Back in Ottawa, where I'm a litigation lawyer at Supreme Advocacy, I cycle to work in the morning and, children permitting, whitewater kayak.
My spouse Giovanna was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice, sitting in Ottawa, on April 11, 2003. Our blended family includes four children (or wee bairns): Marc, Mélanie, Morgan and Naomi. That doesn't include Howie the hedgehog, Frankie the finch, or Hick the hamster (recently deceased). The children are involved in all the usual childhood activities, such as piano, swimming, Tai Kwon Do, and or course, homework — but so far, none of them have shown an interest in either highland dancing, whitewater kayaking, or haggis for that matter. Actually Morgan (the youngest) just now wants to take highland dancing lessons, and I am making arrangements for him to take a summer camp to do this as I pen this. Marc, Mélanie and Morgan speak French. Naomi (and Giovanna) speak Italian. And I'm taking night courses (from Giovanna) in Italian.