In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


Murray James (Rick) Ryan




Born: 01 Feb 1919          Died: 18 Sep 2022


RYAN, Murray James (Rick), Honourable Justice, Q.C. - North Sydney. The Honorable Murray J. ‘Rick’ Ryan, retired Justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, September 18, 2022. He was 103 and the last surviving member of his immediate family.


The second youngest of nine children of the late Captain Matthew Ryan and Mary MacLeod, he was born in North Sydney on February 1, 1919. He graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1944. Upon graduation, he immediately entered active service in the Royal Canadian Navy serving on the Corvette HMCS Pictou, doing convoy duty in the North Atlantic. Upon the end of World War II, he entered Dalhousie Law School in the fall of 1945 and graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1948.


After completing his six months of articling in Sydney, he was admitted to the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in November 1948, at which time he opened a law office on Commercial Street in North Sydney. In 1971, his nephew David joined his practice and he renamed it, Ryan and Ryan. In 1975 David’s brother, Matthew, also joined the firm.


During Rick’s long legal career, he developed a reputation as an exceptional legal mind of great integrity and was highly respected by his clients, community, and fellow legal colleagues. In 1971, he was appointed to the Queen’s Counsel (the now King’s Counsel). Aside from his private law practice, he also served for many years as the Solicitor for the Town of North Sydney, Solicitor for the Town of Sydney Mines, as a Federal Crown Prosecutor, as well as sitting on many local boards and organizations. As a Veteran of WWII, he was a life-long member of Branch 19, Royal Canadian Legion, North Sydney, where he served as President from 1954-55. He was also a lifetime member of the Fr. William Kiely Council of the Knights of Columbus, North Sydney, a long-time member of the Rotary Club of North Sydney, of which he was President in 1972-73, member of the Board of Directors of St. Elizabeth Hospital in North Sydney, and past President of the Cape Breton Barristers’ Society


On August 5th, 1982, Rick was appointed as a Judge of the County Court of Nova Scotia where he served judiciously. In January 1993 he was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, where he served until his retirement at age 75.


Rick was always very active in sports in his younger years. While attending St. F.X., he was a member of the Varsity X-Men team and won the Atlantic Intercollegiate Hockey Championship in 1941. A founding member of the Seaview Golf Club in the 1950s, Rick’s summer passion was surpassed only by his love for curling in the winter. A long-time member of the North Sydney Curling Club, Rick and his curling partners were well known for curling a mean game on the ice in the 1960s and early 70s and won many tournaments over the years.


My dad’s faith was very much a cornerstone of who he was, being a lifelong member of St. Joseph Parish in North Sydney. When health prevented him from attending Mass, he faithfully watched Mass on television from his home. Rick’s energy, love of life, and joy which greeted every morning with was matched only by Mabel’s less than enthusiastic appreciation for his early morning happiness. I always suspected a touch of mischievousness in his motives, as my mother was not a morning person. He met my mother at the Seaview Golf Club and they enjoyed over 50 years together. For many years they would spend summers in Mira, where my mother grew up. They enjoyed travelling together, with trips to Florida, the United Kingdom, Hawaii, and across Canada.


Throughout the years I have heard a common story, again and again from individuals around the Northside and beyond. A story of my father’s generosity, his kindness, his humbleness. Stories of how he helped people, provided free legal work and so on. Those within the legal community speak of my dad’s integrity, knowledge, kindness, and willingness to take young lawyers under his wing and provide them with tips, assistance, guidance and encouragement. I know I will continue to hear these stories in the future and look forward to hearing how he touched others’ lives.


Rick was predeceased by his wife Mabel (Ferguson). He is survived by his pride and joy, son Murray (Joanne), grandson Andrew, and many nephews and nieces. Besides Mabel and his parents, Rick was predeceased by brothers; Terrence, James (Mena), Captain David (Mary), Robert (Patsy) and sisters; Cecilia R.N., Ethel R.N. (John) Milne, Kathleen, and Nora (Captain Michael) Tobin.


I would like to personally thank all those individuals, without whose care, compassion, and attention it would not have been possible to keep my father at home in his closing years. Dr. Paul Hickey, who continually went above and beyond the call of duty, was always quick to answer the phone and come to the house. The many nurses of the Victorian Order of Nurses, who provided weekly visits and care. Over the past five years, my father was blessed with many wonderful caregivers to whom I will be eternally grateful; Madeline, Diane, Marlene, Donna, Barb, and Diana. My thanks and gratefulness to the late Leonard ‘Sonny’ Guy who faithfully brought Communion to my Dad for many years after he became housebound, and to my cousin, Kevin McCormack, who took up these weekly visits with Communion and conversation. My thanks to both Sonny and Kevin for their kindness. I also must mention and thank my father’s niece Sally and nephew Jimmy who were always there when the need arose, as were nephews Terry and David. There are many others whose kindness, support, and assistance along my father’s journey helped him to reach 103. Joanne, Andrew, and I will be forever grateful to each and every person who helped my Dad on his journey. My dad never failed to ensure that each and every person knew how thankful he was and how much he truly appreciated everything they did for him.


Visitation for Rick will be held from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, in the W.J. Dooley Funeral Home, 107 Pleasant Street, North Sydney. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday at St. Joseph’s Church, North Sydney with Rev. Doug MacDonald officiating and interment to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Sydney. Reception to follow at Branch 19, Royal Canadian Legion, Archibald Avenue, North Sydney.


Memorial donations may be made to the North Sydney Food Bank or a charity of choice.


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