W.D. (Rusty) Russell, Q.C., B.A., LL.B.
September 16, 1925 – February 28, 2019
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rusty Russell.
Rusty was called to the bar in 1953 and established the law firm of Russell, Christie, LLP in April of 1960.
Throughout his legal career, Rusty specialized in Municipal law with a particular emphasis on road issues. He lectured throughout the Province of Ontario to the Municipal Clerks Association, Road Superintendents, the Ontario Land Surveyors Association and the Good Roads/ROMA Annual Convention. In 2005, he was the first recipient of the Award of Excellence in Municipal Law presented by the Municipal Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association. He was an honorary life member of the Ontario Good Roads Association and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association.
After fielding questions for years about roads, including colonization roads and forced roads, Rusty decided to put his knowledge on paper when he authored the book Russell on Roads. Keeping with his motto “keep it simple”, Russell on Roads is full of information to assist lawyers, judges and the public on road questions, all put together with Rusty’s innate sense of entertaining writing. Russell on Roads is in its 3rd Edition and is considered a “must have” for municipal lawyers and staff.
Rusty was a member of the local Rotary Club for more than 50 years, participating in many public service events with the Club. He was honoured by the Rotary Club for 56 years of “service above self.” Rusty was also a member of the local YMCA, where he was named a Life Member after 58 consecutive years of active membership.
Rusty was well known to many local youth over the years for teaching them to water ski. He had a safety first attitude and all of the students were given a set of rules and instructions to follow. He had a great interest in local sporting events and often attended hockey or basketball games where children of our staff were participating.
After his “early retirement at age 89” Rusty continued to contribute to the firm by writing articles for our website, organizing municipal seminars and public speaking engagements. He will be greatly missed by the lawyers and staff at Russell, Christie, LLP.
As Rusty would say “keep your stick on the ice.”
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Douglas Christie was called to the bar and joined the firm in 1973. He practices primarily municipal, real estate, corporate/commercial and estate law. Douglas has lectured for the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of Upper Canada on real estate matters, and has been a guest lecturer at the Bar Admission Course regarding “Cottage Properties”. He has also delivered a paper on tax sales to the A.M.C.T.O, and has been involved in a number of municipal seminars relating to zoning, legal non-conforming uses and regulatory by-laws.
Douglas has been active supporting community projects including Big Brothers, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, Couchiching Jubilee House, the Couchiching Conservancy and was named to the Order of Orillia in 2011.
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Michael Miller was called to the bar in 1975 and joined the firm the following year in the litigation department. Michael’s practice focuses on municipal litigation (including zoning, property standards and building code matters) and road access disputes, estate and wrongful dismissal litigation.
During his years at the firm, Michael has handled municipal defence work for various insurance companies. He regularly appears before the Superior Court of Justice, the Divisional Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal and has also handled cases before the Ontario Drainage Referee and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
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William (Bill) Koughan was called to the bar in 1987 and joined the firm the same year. Bill’s principal areas of practice include residential and commercial real estate, corporate/commercial law, wills and estates. Bill’s corporate/commercial practice involves corporate acquisitions and mergers, corporate financing and commercial leasing. His municipal law practice focuses primarily on land use planning and development under the Planning Act, development charges and the law as it applies to municipalities in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001. Bill has previously delivered papers and participated in municipal seminars involving a wide range of municipal law matters. He’s also a past president of the Orillia & District Big Brothers Association.
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Edward B. Veldboom was called to the bar in 2000, and joined the firm in the same year. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto and was a practising planner prior to entering law school.
Edward practices in the areas of municipal and land use planning law. He regularly provides advice to over 20 municipalities and routinely appears before the Ontario Municipal Board.
Edward has presented seminars on the new Municipal Act, has been an instructor for the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Law Course and a guest speaker for the Ontario Association of Committees of Adjustment.
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Michael Sirdevan was called to the bar in 2000 and returned to his home town to join our firm in 2005. He practices primarily in the field of family law, including all aspects of divorce and separation, child custody, child and spousal support, property division, separation agreements, cohabitation agreements and marriage contracts. Michael’s practice also includes general civil litigation, including municipal litigation, estate litigation, employment matters, property disputes and construction litigation. Michael has appeared before all levels of court in the Province of Ontario, including the Court of Appeal for Ontario. He has been the Treasurer of the Orillia Law Association since 2006.
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Jennifer E. Biggar practices mainly in the areas of family law, municipal law, real estate and civil litigation. She graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2012 and was awarded the Robert W. Macaulay Prize in Land Use Planning in 2011. Jennifer also obtained a Certificate of Completion with First Class Honours in International Business Law in 2011 from the Bader International Study Centre, Queen’s University, which is located at Herstmonceux Castle in England. After being called to the bar in 2013, Jennifer returned to her home town of Orillia and joined the firm in the same year. She is a dedicated advocate for her clients both at Court and other administrative tribunals (such as the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal), as well as through the use of negotiation, agreements and other dispute resolution mechanisms.
As of April 1st, 2019 Jennifer is on maternity leave with the birth of her new child.
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James Morse was called to the bar in 2013, and moved to Orillia to join our firm in 2016. Previously a sole practitioner specializing in criminal law, family law, and child welfare matters, he now practises primarily in the area of family law and civil litigation. James received the Maritime Law Book Prize in Professional Conduct from the UNB Faculty of Law in 2011, where he obtained his LLB. He also studied at Acadia University, McMaster University, and the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific. In addition to his regular court appearances representing both Legal Aid and private clients, James has worked at legal advice clinics and volunteered with pro bono programs that support access to justice.