top of page

Scotch- Canadian 

Colonel Oliver Mowat BIGGAR, CMG, a Canadian lawyer and civil servant. He was the second judge advocate general for the Canadian Militia and the first chief electoral officer of Canada

Oliver Mowat Biggar. Esq

October 11, 1876 – September 4, 1948


2nd judge advocate general of Canada

Occupation:  Lawyer, civil servant

A descendant of Herbert Biggar of Barbouie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland




Oliver Mowat Biggar He was the eldest son of lawyer Charles Robert Webster Biggar and Jane Helen Mowat daughter of Sir Oliver Mowat, a former Premier of Ontario. 

                                                    Biggar was educated at Upper Canada College, graduating in 1894. He attended University College at the                                                          University of Toronto and graduated with a B.A. in 1898. In 1901 Biggar graduated from Osgoode Hall Law                                                        School and began practicing as a lawyer with Biggar & Burton. By 1903, he moved to Edmonton, Alberta,                                                          and was called to the bar there. On April 30, 1908, he married Muriel Elizabeth Whitney (daughter of J.G.                                                          Whitney). Together they had one daughter, Sally Vernon Biggar


                                                    After practicing law in Edmonton for twelve years, he joined the Canadian Army in 1915 and became the                                                           Judge Advocate General for Canada in 1918. He was a member of the Canadian delegation to the Versailles                                                        Peace Conference in 1918-19. In derogation to standard practice, Colonel Biggar, then Parliamentary                                                                  Counsel of the House of Commons, was designated in the Elections Act as the first holder of the office, a                                                          feature that suggests that his appointment may have been part and parcel of an all-party package. His                                                                salary was made equal to that of a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, a position that at that time                                                                commanded a salary of $12,000. Ironically, Biggar quit in 1927 after having supervised three general elections, because he expected to make even more money by moving to the lucrative practice of patent law. To this day, he remains the only Chief Electoral Officer having a legal background.

Biggar suffered heart failure in the spring of 1944 and was forced to reduce his responsibilities. With his health deteriorating, Biggar relinquished his duties to General Andrew McNaughton in 1945.

Biggar died in Ottawa in 1948, at the age of 71.

S.3 O M Biggar.jpg
bottom of page