The founder of Davidson & Williams, Charles Conybeare, was a major figure in the economic and cultural development of Lethbridge and Alberta. He became the City’s first lawyer and handled a wide range of civil and criminal matters for the people of Lethbridge and their families, including a steady flow of wills and inheritances.
Charles Conybeare was born on May 19th, 1860 in Chiswick (London) England. After attending Westminster School in London and Christ Church, Oxford, he joined the British Merchant Marine. He came to Canada in 1880 where he articled at a law firm in Winnipeg. In December 1885 he founded his own practice, “C.F.P. Conybeare, K.C.,” in the bustling settlement of Lethbridge. He was admitted to the bar of the North-West Territories that year and appointed a notary in 1886. He served as a crown prosecutor from 1888 to 1897. Appointed Q.C. (Queen’s Council) in 1894, he was elected a bencher of the Law Society of the North-West Territories in 1899 and, when Alberta became a province in 1905, was founding vice-president of the Law Society of Alberta in 1907. His commercial clients included the Canadian Pacific Railway, North-Western Coal and Navigation, Canadian North-West Irrigation, and numerous Cattle Companies.
As well as belonging to a number of prominent local clubs, he helped found the Chinook Club and Pemmican Club in Lethbridge. He helped establish Lethbridge Brewing and Malting, British Canadian Trust and Lethbridge Brick and Terra Cotta. Conybeare was chairman of the public school board, president of the Lethbridge Board of Trade and Civic Committee (now the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce) and founding president of the Southern Alberta Boards of Trade.
Conybeare’s original partners, William Alfred Galliher and William Carlos Ives, both became politicians and judges, Ives being named Chief Justice of Alberta in 1906. Conybeare received honorary degrees from Bishop’s College in Lennoxville, Quebec in 1907, and the University of Alberta in 1908. A stalwart of the Church of England, he had paid half the cost of building St Augustine’s Church in Lethbridge in 1886-87. He died in Lethbridge on July 30th, 1927 at the age of 67.
Richard Roy Davidson was born July 7, 1883 and was awarded his LL.B from the University of Alberta in 1913. He articled under Conybeare, Church & McArthur, became a name partner in 1914, and was made Queen’s Counsel June 23, 1936. Davidson was very active in the Lethbridge community throughout his life; he was a school trustee and chairman of the school board for three years, in which he introduced a policy of free textbooks. He also served a term as the president of the Alberta School Trustee Association and served as President of the Rotary Club of Lethbridge from 1924 to 1925. He ran as a Conservative candidate in Lethbridge in 1926. United Way credits him with helping to lay the foundation for the “United Way concept” in Lethbridge and South Western Alberta when he headed the first Community Chest fundraising campaign in 1941, which raised over $56,000 for war relief efforts.
William “Bill” P. Davidson was the second of three generations of Davidsons at the firm. The name was changed to Davidson & Davidson in 1939 while Bill Davidson was articling there under his father. Admitted to the bar in 1940, Davidson followed in his father’s footsteps and began practicing law. After joining and training with the Royal Canadian Navy from 1943-1945 Davidson became very active in the local community. He was President of the Rotary club of Lethbridge from 1950-1951, first vice-president of the Community Chest in 1951, and later became a director of the Lethbridge Bar Association in 1966.
The Davidson legacy continues today with the third generation W.C. Richard Davidson, Q.C. who also articled at the firm. He continues to practice law at Davidson & Williams today.
Richard “Dick” Williams obtained his Bachelor’s and Law degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and articled under Fred M. Pritchard in Taber before moving to Lethbridge in 1954 where he joined the firm of Davidson & Davidson. In 1957, the firm took the name of Davidson, Davidson & Williams. Dick was an active member of the community, serving as the first chairman of the Lethbridge Community College Foundation and participating in many leadership roles in the Rotary Club of Lethbridge, including President from 1971-1972. Williams was a dedicated lawyer who was honoured to be of service to others.
Today Davidson & Wiliiams LLP is the same firm that started in 1885, so we are proud to call ourselves Western Canada’s longest-running firm. We have grown to be a diverse full service law firm that is deeply rooted within the Lethbridge community. Each of our lawyers serves and engages with the community through various clubs, committees, organizations, and volunteer work. The firm also invests in the future with the Richard Davidson, Q.C. Scholarship and the Honourable Lawrence David MacLean, Q.C. Memorial Award for Service which are given to students at the University of Lethbridge who are active in the community and show academic achievement. We are proud of the long-standing tradition of community service at Davidson & Williams LLP, and the experience we have gained by serving Southern Alberta for over 130 years. Conybeare understood the issues and found solutions to help the people and businesses of Lethbridge succeed, a tradition of understanding and service which continues today at Davidson & Williams.