Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law
by Beverley McLachlin
The first woman to ever hold the role of Chief Justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin shares her life’s story — from growing up in the foothills of Alberta, to her career on the Supreme Court.
As a young woman, McLachlin moved to Edmonton to pursue a degree in philosophy. But when a loved one suggested she try the law, she realized that her passion lay in solving real-world problems — and the legal system was a place where she could make true change.
With a world that struggled to accept females in the workforce, let alone the law, Beverley strived to be perfect in all that she set her mind to. And her hard work paid off. McLachlin rose through the courts at an incredible rate to eventually be named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Over the next eighteen years, she presided over some of the most prominent cases in the country.
Reflecting on her time both in the Canadian courts and at home, McLachlin invites readers into her stories of triumph and tragedy. From the death of family members, to working-motherhood, and her pursuit of justice, this memoir is a brilliant glimpse at the complexities of our legal system and the life of one of Canada’s most recognized jurists.
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Truth Be Told is largely a memoir-style recounting of McLachlin’s life — from her childhood in Pincher Creek to her love story and motherhood. Through it all is the overarching narrative of a woman who is passionate about justice and loves the law.
McLachlin writes in a way that feels warm and familiar. Rather than being a dry, legal recounting, her stories are enjoyable and personable. She writes with wisdom and grace, sharing both humorous and lighthearted anecdotes, along with the gritty, real-life moments that define so much of us.
The second half of the book focuses more closely on her time as Chief Justice for the Supreme Court. It’s here that we begin to hear about some of the cases McLachlin presided over — and the effects that those decisions had upon Canadian citizens. While this section of the book felt slower and more carefully curated, the insider glimpse into the Canadian courts and legal system was nonetheless intriguing.
The courts belong to the people and should reflect the people. No one should be obliged to go before a court that seems distant and alien. This truth applies not only to women as judges but also to minorities. For too long, Indigenous peoples have felt that the courts are not theirs — that they don’t represent them or understand them.Beverley McLachlin, Truth Be Told
What we now need is diverse representation on the bench. It may take time. But we should do all we can to get there.
Although some readers may find it “light on the law,” I appreciated that this autobiography was a non-intimidating read for those of us without legal backgrounds. The bits about life as a judge demonstrated her passion for equality, fairness, and constitutional rights, while still feeling down-to-earth.
An engaging look into one of Canada’s most influential women.
(On a side note, I have now added her novel, Full Disclosure, to my ever-expanding TBR pile!)