Gérard Vincent La Forest was born in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, on April 1, 1926. He is the son of J. Alfred La Forest and Philomène Lajoie. After studying at St. Francis Xavier University, he studied law at the University of New Brunswick. In 1949 he obtained a B.C.L. and was called to the bar of New Brunswick. Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, he continued his studies at Oxford University, earning a B.A. in 1951. He also completed an LL.M. in 1965 and a J.S.D. in 1966, both at Yale University. Following a short period in private practice, he served in the federal Department of Justice from 1952 to 1955 and then as a legal advisor for a private corporation before embarking on a teaching career. From 1956 to 1968, he taught at the University of New Brunswick, and from 1968 to 1970 he was Dean of Law at the University of Alberta. He returned to government in 1970, serving as Assistant Deputy Attorney General of Canada until 1974. He then became a member of the Law Reform Commission of Canada for five years. In 1981, after teaching for two years at the University of Ottawa, he was appointed to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal. On January 16, 1985, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice La Forest served on the Supreme Court for 12 years and retired on September 30, 1997.