Laura K. Stevens
On January 3, 2023, the Edmonton Provincial Court flags flew at half mast to honour the life of Judge Laura K. Stevens. Judge Stevens passed away on January 1st, 2023, at the age of 61.
She is survived by her husband of 37 years, Bill Abercrombie; her eldest son Malcolm and his partner Sarah and their beloved grandchildren Olyve and Atticus, youngest son Duncan and fiancé Alex. Laura’s parents, who both reside in Calgary, Greg Stevens and Patricia Stevens. Siblings include her sister Linda Charlton, brother-in-law Tom Charlton, nieces Reka and Nicole, brother Tom Stevens, sister-in-law Linda Stevens and nephews Eric, Jared, and Clayton and Sister-in-law Nora Abercrombie, nephew Joseph, niece Alexandra and sister-in-law Kelley Abercrombie.
Laura was born in North Bay, Ontario, on April 18, 1961. Laura’s early life involved travelling from base to base across the country. Her father, Greg served as an officer and fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force and post-military as a community planner.
As a child, Laura resided with her parents in Winnipeg, Burnaby, Kelowna, Fort McMurray, Calgary, and Banff. While attending school in her teens, Laura fulfilled her childhood dream of working as a horse packer and wrangler for Brewster Kananaskis Guest Ranch in the Rocky Mountains. Her disposition and work ethic impressed the cowboys, and she was mentored by legendary characters such as Bud Brewster and Bill Bagley. Laura made lifelong friends at the ranch, particularly Bud and Annette’s daughter Janet and her husband, Kevin. At Laura’s wedding, Bud presented Laura with a Winchester carbine to carry to Alaska in case she had to deal with any unruly types, including bears, politicians, or husbands…
In 1977 Laura was accepted to Camrose Lutheran College in Camrose, AB (now Augustana UofA Campus). There, she met Bill, her future husband. Bill is the big brother of Nora Abercrombie, Laura’s roommate in college and future sister-in-law. They both enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities in college together, including cross-country skiing, canoeing, and outdoor survival trips. Their joint passion for adventure in the wild outdoors led to their marriage in Edmonton in 1986 and a year-long honeymoon in Alaska, USA.
Laura and Bill lived out their dream of a wilderness homestead in the Alaska Range 100 miles south of Fairbanks. The newlyweds built a cabin by hand, raising and using sled dogs for travel, trapping and hunting for food. It was during this wild adventure life on the land that they became pregnant with their eldest son, Malcolm. Laura and Bill returned home to Edmonton at 8 ½ months pregnant in the spring of 1987. They and their young son soon moved to Crescent Island in North Cooking Lake, where they had their second son Duncan in 1989. They raised their family on this historic property and eventually built a grand log home.
Before venturing to Alaska, Laura completed a Law degree at the University of Alberta in 1983 and completed her articles with a criminal law firm in Edmonton. Upon her return to Edmonton, she pursued a career in criminal law, transitioning into practice by co-founding the Alberta Criminal Trial Research Center, which allowed her to split her time between a criminal law practice and raising two young children. She went on to help build a criminal law firm and became a highly respected and renowned criminal defence lawyer, practising for close to 30 years with the Edmonton firm of Anderson, Dawson, Stevens and Shaigec.
Laura began her legal career practicing in Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. She represented clients at all levels of court, including as counsel on precedent-setting cases in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Laura taught for years at the U of A law school, and she was a mentor and criminal law advisor to hundreds of students through Student Legal Services of Edmonton, served on Law Society and Legal Aid committees, was a frequent speaker and presenter at seminars and conferences, was president of the Alberta Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, and was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers. Laura travelled to Afghanistan and Lebanon to assist in setting up a post-war democratic legal system. In 2004, Laura was named Queens Counsel and, in 2013, was awarded the Harradence Prize to honour a career devoted to protecting human rights and justice. Laura dedicated her career to helping the most vulnerable members of our society.
Laura had many passions, including theatre and the arts. In 2006, Laura was instrumental in bringing together the legal and the arts communities to jointly fundraise for the arts by collaborating with a theatre group to stage a play, the Mousetrap. This collaboration became the Players de Novo, through which law students, lawyers, judges, and theatre professionals continue to come together once a year to stage a production for charity.
Of all the passions Laura pursued, paddling down river and kayaking in the pacific gave her the most peace. Laura paddled most of the rivers in Alberta multiple times. The family’s love of canoeing and kayaking has been passed down through the generations, with her grandkids now joining in on trips across the province.
In 2014, Laura was appointed a Judge of the Criminal Division of the Provincial Court of Alberta, where she served until her death. Laura’s devotion to mentoring continued into her judicial career, where she oversaw the student articling program for the Court at the time of her passing.
Celebration of Laura's Life
3:00 PM Sunday, January 22, 2023 (doors open at 2:00 PM
Empire Ballroom at Fairmont Hotel MacDonald
10065 100 St NW, Edmonton, AB
To RSVP, please visit the following link: https://www.eventcreate.com/e/laurastevens
Those unable to attend the Celebration of Laura's Life can view the service via ZOOM by accessing the following link: https://encoreglobal.zoom.us/j/93458888491?pwd=Y2lDTTZWdCtpMUZ6UVRYbVdpVnp2Zz09
Meeting ID: 934 5888 8491
Meeting Password: 197536
My best wishes to the family. Judge Steven’s taught me in law school 2003/4 and adjudicated many of my cases. She will be missed.
My condolences for your loss a great one has left pain, love and passion in our hearts. As a judicial clerk I was honoured to witness Laura advocate for vulnerable citizens, in a learned, professional, respectful and passionate manner. Fierce!
Philipia Bates Renouf
To Bill & Family
We would like to express our deepest condolences. Our thoughts & prayers are with you at this time.
Hello Bill, we are saddened to hear of your loss. Although we did not know her, it seems Laura lived a short, but, extraordinary life with you by her side. We send our sincere sympathy to you and your family.
Ron and Lois Maloney
My deepest condolences to Laura’s Family. Our paths crossed through my work with the Law Society of the Northwest Territories and she sat at the table in our home like a member of the family on more than one occasion. Her passing will be felt on many levels.
My sincerest condolences to Bill and family. After reading this notice, I am in awe of the life that Laura lived. She certainly did not back down from a challenge and her priorities were selfless. She will be sorely missed by family, friends and colleagues of that I am positive.
On behalf of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, our deepest condolences to Laura’s family. Judge Stevens was a frequent and popular contributor to CBA professional development and she was very generous in her mentoring of young lawyers. Her warm and positive energy will be missed.
Heartfelt condolences to Bill, Malcolm and your family on your sudden loss of Laura.
Greg, Pat, Linda and Tom…..I have no words that can express the shock and sadness over Laura’s passing. She was my dearest best friend as a kid in Banff and I cherish all the memories I have of playing in your wonderful home and being part of your family. I can’t believe she has left our world. My heartfelt condolences to the whole extended family.
Bill, Malcolm and Duncan – Karl and I want to express our deep condolences for your loss. We are still in complete shock at Laura’s sudden passing. She was such an amazing woman and I was fortunate to know her and work with her. She will be sadly missed.
Our deepest condolences to Judge Stevens’ family. She was a brilliant jurist and a wonderful person. We had the honour of learning from her as law students, appearing before her as lawyers, and taking part in Players de Novo. We will miss her.
Reading this made me realize even more how much of a remarkable woman Laura was. So glad to be able to hear some of these stories first hand and be able to call her a friend. She will be missed by many.
Dear Pat and Greg, I’ve known you for almost 26 years and through the times past we have shared many challenging and wonderfully memorable times. You have overcome so much and you will overcome Laura’s terrible loss. Bless you both. Brownie
To Bill, Malcolm, Duncan, Linda and Tom and families
Dear Bill, Malcolm, Duncan, Tom, Linda and families
Doug and I are still reeling from the tragic news of Laura’s death. I want to express our deepest sympathy to you and your children. There are no words left to say regarding Laura’s extraordinary passion for life and to say how much she will be missed. With you all being part of our lives through Tricia and Greg, our best friends for over 80 years, I am hoping you know how much you have meant to our family. We love you always.
Diane and Doug Lindblom and families.
My deepest condolences to Laura’s family. I know all of us who knew her from the lawyers’ curling league will miss seeing her at Wednesday night curling. She will also be sorely missed by the Edmonton Bench and Bar.
Laura was one of the graduates of this Law School whom I admired the most. I was fascinated by the stories of her outdoor adventures and thoroughly impressed by her reputation as a counsel in criminal matters. This is such a sad and untimely loss.
To: Bill, Malcolm, Duncan families and countless friends and fans of Laura.
Let the record show:
If we were asked to make a list of the most remarkable and honorable people we have ever encountered, Laura and Bill would be very high up on that list, if not the top!
We were always made to feel worthy and appreciated when ever we had time with Laura and/or Bill…..doin’ New Years eve “Empire Style” at the Mac – delicious roast moose at their wonderful cabin on the island – then barbequed wildebeast steaks (?!) at our house. Laura said she “could smell the veldt”.
Laughter, laughter – sprinkled amid the extraordinary multi-discipline, kind and caring minds of Bill and Laura.
Bill – we know you have blazed many trails professionally and personally. We trust that Laura’s amazing spirit will continue to reside in your heart, mind and soul as you now encounter new and unimagined paths.
With enormous respect, praise and affection for Laura,
Peggy & Steve Shuman
She was a giant of the defence bar when I started my career, and went on to be a scrupulously fair judge who never lost sight of the accused as a human being, rather than just as a party to the action before her. She ensured that the accused understood exactly what was happening at all times, and never, ever sacrificed this exigency for expediency. She also gave generously of her time and expertise, including to the U of A MacIntyre/Sopinka trial moot team that I coach, several iterations of which benefited from her assistance. Her premature passing is a tragedy.
Laura was a tireless advocate and trusted colleague. She contributed a great deal to our justice system as a judge, lawyer and educator. She will be missed.
Laura was an amazing lawyer, judge and person who will be sorely missed
May you find the strength to endure the sorrow in the comfort of family, friends and endearing memories of Judge Stevens.
My deepest condolences to the family of Judge Stevens. Her untimely passing has robbed them of so much. She will be missed.
Laura was my mentor as a young lawyer, not by assignment but because I consider her that. I have lived out east for some time now, but have mentioned her many times as someone I look up to so much.
She was dynamic, funny, engaging, kind, a great human being….all of these also made her a close friend. This all aside from her being such a phenomenal lawyer (I knew her before the swerving appointment to the Bench). As I type this, my mind floods with fond memories of meals with her in Yellowknife, her great laugh, her unique way of becoming heavily invested in an important conversation or a person in need. I haven’t seen Laura in years. I miss her.
Bill, Malcolm, Duncan: my thoughts are with you. If ever in Nova Scotia, and you need anything at all, please reach out to me without hesitation. I’m in Kentville. Your wife/mother meant a lot to me, and my heart is heavy for your tremendous loss.
We are deeply saddened by this news.
Laura was a talented counsel and valued colleague.
I was very shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Laura Stevens. She made many contributions to the legal profession and will be remembered and missed by all who knew her, worked on the opposite side of a case with her; or appeared before her, after she became the Honourable Judge Stevens. I extend my sincerest condolences to the family of Judge Stevens and thank them for sharing her with the legal profession in Alberta.
To Laura’s Family…
Laura was a classmate of mine in Banff and then a coworker with the Brewster family for several summers in “the bush”. She was a hard working, extremely intelligent friend with a keen sense of humour. She went on to accomplish so much in her life. My sincerest condolences are sent to each of you for your loss of a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and sister. May the memories that you made together carry you through these most difficult times.
We are all so deeply saddened by the news of Laura’s death, and so stunned. She was such a fine person, and from the obituary, and the comments of others, it is clear that she was even more impressive than we had imagined. She did so much good for so many people. Our deepest sympathies to Bill and the family. Laura’s passing is truly a great loss.
I knew Judge Stevens only a little, but was always impressed by her legal skill and personal kindness. She always had time to teach young counsel, either overtly or by example. She was what we should all aspire to be in our practice and our lives. I am deeply saddened to learn she has left us far too soon. My deepest condolences to all her family, friends, and colleagues.
On behalf of my wife Patricia who is Laura’s mother, and myself, her father, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to those friends and colleagues of hers who take the time to reflect on their interaction with her during her lifetime. She was very dedicated to her work and her extended family and friends who embraced with her and her husband Bill
our wonderful outdoors and wildlife.
We are not meant to outlive our children
Greg and Pat Stevens
To Bill and Family,
please accept our sincere condolences as we were taken aback by the sad news of Laura s departure.
Fred & Helga Sedmak
Deepest sympathy to all of you, Bill, Malcolm and Duncan and to Laura’s whole family,
It’s hard to imagine how one copes with such an untimely and unexpected loss of an extraordinary person like Laura. We hope you are comforted to know how many people she helped and that you see her lasting presence in each other. Warmly, Colleen Cassady St. Clair and JC Cahill
How should I react, whithout using “bad words”? I met Bill (and then of course Laura) when I visited Canada for my work in the nineties of the last century.
Afterwards, many years I (and also my Marie) went back to visit them and to feel their friendship.
I still can remember that the boys wanted to visite the mall in Edmonton (ice hocky interest?): I should drive them.
Laura took me aside and said “you Europeans drive like …, show me how you drive”. She put me in a car. Probably her old yellowwisch Toyota, with which she went from the island to the shore (on the other side she put on “decent” clothes!).
I proved the exam. And the boys and I went to Edmonton.
Everybody expected a Dutchman to be a good skater, but over here we had not had a real winter since 30? years. So everybody skated around me, out at the lake. I felt like a fool.
What can I say? Marie and me remember all this, and especcially Laura, in friendship, FB.