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(Class of '69) Sarah 'Sally' Pepall - Lawyer and Ontario Court of Appeal Justice

The Winner of the 2013 Judy Elder Alumna Award is Justice Sarah E. Pepall '69

The Honourable Madam Justice Sarah E. Pepall ’69 (also known as Sally) attended The Study from Lower Third in 1962 to her graduation in 1969.  She was the fourth of five daughters, all of whom went to The Study.  Her father, Ted Pepall, was Chair of the Board of Governors of the school.  After a year at Neuchatel Junior College in Switzerland, she attended Glendon College, York University in Toronto for one year.  When her father died in 1971, she returned to Montreal to study political science and law at McGill University.  In 1978, Sarah was called to the Bar of Ontario and subsequently practiced commercial and civil litigation.  It was during this time that Sarah obtained a Masters of Law in Public Law on a part-time basis from Osgoode Hall Law School, married her husband, Jim Christie, and raised her two wonderful children, Gillian and Fraser.

Sarah became one of the first women in Canada to lead a large commercial law firm when she was elected to management at McMillan Binch and ultimately became its managing partner.  She also volunteered for many years with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, eventually becoming its President in 1997.

In 1999, she accepted a position as Justice of the Superior Court of Ontario.  She became leader of the Commercial List in 2006, administering one of Canada’s most sophisticated courts and presiding over numerous significant Canadian commercial cases. She also served as President of the Ontario Superior Court Judges’ Association for a maximum two-year term.

Sarah was elevated to the Ontario Court of Appeal in April, 2012.

Throughout her career, Sarah has been a frequent lecturer on a wide variety of subjects in Canada.  She has also lectured in the UK and the People’s Republic of China.

In September 2013, Sarah received a Lexpert Zenith Award celebrating leading Canadian Women Lawyers.  Prior to this, Sarah was the recipient of other awards and accolades including the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Turnaround Management Association’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, and one of  “Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women” award in 2006.  

Looking back at her Study years, one of Sarah’s regrets is that she did not thank so many of her teachers who, no doubt unbeknownst to them, were significant influences on her life. They included: Miss Foster, who welcomed her in Lower Third and inspired a life-long love of history and current events (and obliged her to have neat and legible handwriting); Mrs. Wilmott, her English teacher, who supported

Sarah’s independent pursuit and study of North American Literature as a credit course, and gave her and her classmates a well-read student’s list of great works of literature; Miss Lamont, the school’s principal and upper school history teacher, who instructed the class to ‘challenge their sources’ and not to be accepting of everything one read; and Mrs. Greer-Wooten, the gym teacher, who through basketball and volleyball, taught Sarah and others the value of teamwork and the collective power of sharing a unity of purpose.

Sarah also credits The Study for having instilled a sense of civic engagement, a characteristic that governed many of her career choices.  Most importantly, Sarah has shared memories and lasting friendships with many of her classmates, any number of whom she feels would be worthy recipients of the Judy Elder Alumna Award.