In the first session of the first Legislature of Manitoba, An Act Authorizing the Appointment of Magistrates and Coroners was passed. This legislation authorized the Lieutenant Governor in Council to appoint justices of the peace, coroners and police magistrates. In 1936, The Manitoba Magistrates Act underwent a major overhaul. In the mid-1960s, all references in the Act to “police magistrates” were changed to “magistrates”. In 1967, the Act was amended to provide for the appointment of a Chief Magistrate. The Chief Magistrate was the senior magistrate for the province and had supervisory powers in respect of arranging the sittings of magistrates and justices of the peace and assigning magistrates and justices of the peace for hearings.
In 1972, the judicialization of provincial magistrates was complete. The Magistrates Act was repealed and replaced by The Provincial Judges Act. It created a new office, that of provincial judge of the Province of Manitoba. Individuals could only be appointed judges of the court if they were members in good standing of the Law Society of Manitoba and entitled to practice law in Manitoba. This introduced the requirement of legal education for provincial judges in Manitoba. The legislation also provided greater security of tenure for the judges and established a Judicial Council, which could adjudicate complaints against provincial judges.
The Provincial Court of Manitoba, as it is known today, came into being on January 1, 1973. Most of the judges appointed to sit on the court at its inception were previously provincial police magistrates. The first Chief Judge was Harold Gyles, who was formerly the Chief Provincial Magistrate. In 1973, there were 20 provincial court judges. The Provincial Judges Act was subsequently repealed and replaced by The Provincial Court Act.
Provincial Court Chief Judges and Magistrates
Source: Manitoba Law Reform Commission, Report on the Independence of Provincial Judges (1989), ch. 2