James MacIntyre’s family has a distinguished pedigree in law. His grandfather, James Murray MacIntyre, was a judge in New Brunswick; and his father, Malcolm MacIntyre, was a professor of law at UBC from 1948-1964. After graduating from UBC Law in 1957, MacIntyre followed his father into academia, completing his LLM from Harvard in 1958, and teaching at Queen’s University from 1959-1964 before returning to UBC Law in 1965.
Born in 1933 in Alberta, MacIntyre first came to Vancouver in 1948 before entering UBC in 1952, intending to take a combined B.Com-LL.B, an option offered by the university. “A lot of people did a double degree back then,” MacIntyre says.
MacIntyre’s class, the class of 1957, was the smallest that UBC Law had yet seen. “It was the first class after the vet-boom,” he recalls. Nonetheless, MacIntyre remembers that a significant portion of the students were older. Among his colleagues were Bill Esson, Alec Robertson, Don Patterson and George Fujisawa - the first Japanese-Canadian called to the bar in British Columbia.
At UBC Law, students attended lectures from 8:30 in the morning until lunch; the rest of the day was left for them to study. All classes took place in the first permanent law building on UBC Campus—it replaced the old army huts which had housed the faculty from 1945-1951.
MacIntyre has fond memories of his time at UBC Law. Several of his colleagues included Bertie McClean, Ray Herbert and Charles Bourne who had been professors of his during his education.
MacIntyre was still a student when he decided that he wanted to go into teaching. His first few years as an academic were spent at the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University, which was only two years old at the time he began his tenure. He taught a mixed bag of studies, which included family law, mortgages, and landlord-tenant law. While at Queen’s, MacIntyre maintained his connection to British Columbia, often spending his summers in Vancouver.
In 1964, already with a job offer from the University of Toronto in his hands, MacIntyre received a call from Dean George Curtis inviting him to teach at UBC. He ultimately chose UBC.
Talking to the Law History Project, MacIntyre remembers an odd twist of fate during his sabbatical of 1972. He had travelled to the London School of Economics to research the estate tax. Shortly after his arrival back in Canada, the Federal government abolished the tax.
In addition to his teaching and research duties, MacIntyre twice served as Associate Dean from 1985-1988 and again from 1995-1996. He was named Queen’s Counsel and was recognized as a Life Bench of the Law Society of British Columbia since 1996.