George Miller

George MillerBirthplace
Mount Albert, Ontario

June 30, 1890

September 25, 1977

Photo Credit
Miller Maki, LLP.

George Merle Miller, Q.C. was born in Mount Albert, Ontario on June 30, 1890. George was one of seven children, two boys and five girls. George’s father started a tannery factory making leather goods and harnesses. Eventually George’s father and brother established a store making and selling shoes, until his family moved to New Liskeard in 1904. His father began a lumber business. At 14 years of age George would finish his grade eight in New Liskeard, but there was no secondary school in the area and so at fifteen he secured a job delivering oats, flour, materials and such on horse and wagon. Then in 1906 a friend of his, Jim White had staked a claim in Gowganda and later upon selling his interests, was paid a handsome sum of $10,000. With money in the bank, Jim took George Miller and a handful of friends on a grand trip down through Temiskaming, to Mattawa and to Ottawa. Returning home to New Liskeard, Jim White opened a grocery store and hired George to manage the establishment. George was only 16 at the time.

In 1907, New Liskeard established a continuation school in which George Miller was able to complete his entire high school in just under two years! George took on a summer job in 1908 working for a surveyor. In the fall George joined a law firm in New Liskeard, “Hartman and Smiley” working as a clerk. With ambitions of making law a career, George then headed to Toronto in 1910 where he became a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, as an articling clerk, and completed his studies earning honours. University was not compulsory in those days. George needed to work in the Osgoode Hall Law School Library at night to earn his way through his studies. He graduated in 1913. He was enrolled as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ontario and called with Honours to the Degree of Barrister-at-Law. Miller was admitted to practice at the Bar of his Majesty’s Courts in Ontario by the Benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1913.

Directly after graduating, George Miller just happened to be walking by a bulletin board to which a ‘help wanted’ notice was pinned. The note was from R.R. McKessock, a Sudbury area Crown Attorney and as well, a practicing Barrister and Solicitor looking for a lawyer to join his firm. George wrote Mr. McKessock who agreed to travel to Toronto where he stayed at the Prince George Hotel. He interviewed George who was known to be very engaging and very bright. He obviously made a great impression on Mr. McKessock who hired him on the spot! So it was that George would make his way to Sudbury and on June 13, 1913 began practicing along with R.R. McKessock. It wasn’t long after George arrived that McKessock would be turning his attention to military matters with talk of war pending. McKessock belonged to the 97th Regiment “Algonquin Rifles” and McKessock and his troop would head down to the Niagara region for training and exercises in preparation for battle. This left George Miller behind to run the firm, and with only some experience in division court work collecting bad debts and such in Toronto, he was left with a huge undertaking managing the firm and serving as Acting Crown Attorney. With World War I breaking out, McKessock and his men traveled to Valcartier in September of 1914 and were then sent overseas. George Miller continued to look after the office acting privately as defense council but also serving as a Crown Attorney prosecuting criminal cases. Revenue from the firm would support McKessock’s family, while George would make enough for himself. Overseas, McKessock and his group sustained overwhelming casualties in the Second Battle of Ypres as a result of a gas attack and McKessock would be taken prisoner of war. He would not return home to Sudbury until after the war ended.

George was married in 1916 to Dorothy and by roughly 1920 Miller would be on his own having established himself. In that length of time Miller had won all but one murder defense trial. Now on his own, criminal law would be Miller’s specialty.

George Miller also had a taste for politics and found himself elected to Sudbury Town Council in 1926. He chaired the Property Committee introducing a number of changes leading to greater efficiency in civic administration. He was made King’s Council in 1931 and he began to bring partners into his firm. The first was K.E. Maki Q.C., followed by W.A. Inch and D.H. Mulligan. George Miller was the chair of the W.E. Mason Foundation. W.E. Mason died in 1948.

George Miller was also a member of the first Board of Regents of Sudbury’s first university, The University of Sudbury, in 1958.

It was back in 1951 George became a part owner and president of the Sudbury Star Newspaper and CKSO Radio Ltd. Now bitten by the media bug, Mr. Miller and his colleagues would turn their sights to television, which of course was just in its infancy. The CBC Board of Governors approved an application by CKSO Sudbury Limited in March 1953. The approval was pivotal as Sudbury would be introduced to a whole new means of entertainment and advertising.

It would come to be then that the first privately owned television station in Canada would be founded by the partnership of George Miller, W.B. Plaunt and Judge J.M. Cooper. George served as the company’s president.

Miller had been doing his homework on the new television industry researching its functionality in the United States, even while there were those who tried to discourage him by warning of its very risky nature. George was convinced that if they were going to do it, they wanted to be first.

George and his partners would prove the naysayers wrong setting a precedent for launching the first privately owned television station in Canada.

When launched the first studio was located on Ash Street. The studio was packed with people, singers and an orchestra when the first television show was broadcast. That was October 25, 1953. Colour broadcasting would come in 1966.

George Miller passed away on September 25, 1977. CKSO FM would see a change in its call letters by 1978. The new letters were CIGM FM, with the ‘GM’ honouring George Miller. Both AM and FM would become disaffiliated from CBC Radio in ’78 and a morning country music format was introduced on the FM side.

(With notes from Thomas E. Maki, Miller Maki, LLP, Sudbury, Ontario)

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