John Evans and the Stephen Leacock connection

  • September 19, 2013

Lawyer recognized with prestigious award has link to famous author

John Evans and Stephan Leacock

Photo: Stephen Leacock and John Evans circa early 1940s, photo courtesy of John Evans

TORONTO – John Evans, who was honoured by the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) with a prestigious award, is best known as a Hamilton lawyer, but has a strong connection to Orillia and famed author Stephen Leacock.

Evans, senior partner of Evans Sweeny Bordin LLP in Hamilton, was recognized September 17 at a gala dinner for his more than 40 years of practice with the OBA Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation.

The award recognizes exceptional contributions and achievements in civil litigation in areas such as outstanding advocacy skills; professionalism, integrity and civility.

Evans’s family is originally from Orillia and comes from a long line of Orillia lawyers.

His great grandfather, a lawyer, and his grandfather, a crown attorney, were from Orillia. His father, John Evans Senior, was born and grew up in Orillia but re-located to Hamilton after law school.

John Evans spent his summers in Orillia and his parents were friends of the humourist Stephen Leacock, author of the famous book Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.

In her remarks at the gala dinner, OBA President Pascale Daigneault noted that a character in that book, a lawyer called Nivens, was based on John’s father, called Evans.

“There is a very funny passage in the book where court is adjourned so that the Nivens/Evans character, the defendant, and the judge can all go fishing together,” Daigneault said.

Daigneault said there is a “remarkable” photo taken in the early 1940s of Leacock and John Evans at age five or six playing in a garden with a balsa wood airplane.

“Given this background, it is very interesting that John, as a lawyer, defines himself as a story teller, whose job it is to tell a client’s story,” Daigneault said, adding the tables have now been turned on Evans as stories were being told about him at the award gala.

The OBA, a branch of the Canadian Bar Association, is the voice of the legal profession in Ontario, representing more than 17,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students throughout the province.


John EvansJohn F. Evans, Q.C., LSM
Evans Sweeny Bordin LLP


Pascale Daigneault
President, Ontario Bar Association



Greg Crone
(416) 869-1047 ext. 364
Cell: (416) 728-0784