New regional judge serving Island has strong family ties to Manitoulin

Justice Dana Peterson

SAULT STE. MARIE—Justice Dana Peterson, who has family ties to Manitoulin Island, is the third member of her family to sit on the bench as a judge, having been appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice by Attorney General Doug Downey on April 7. She is following in the footsteps of her grandfather and great-grandfather

“Dana has been a fantastic assistant Crown Attorney and she will be an exceptional provincial court judge,” her former boss, Kelly Weeks, director of Crown operations (for Algoma) in Sault Ste. Marie told The Expositor. “I have known her for her entire career.” She told Soo Toda on April 29 that Ms. Peterson was a fantastic prosecutor, who showed fairness, justice and dignity and “always demonstrated empathy and respect for all participants in the justice system. Our loss is a gain for the entire system of justice.”

During a swearing-in ceremony on April 28 at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse, the former Crown  prosecutor became a judge in the Ontario Court of Justice. She is assigned to Elliot Lake and will also sit in satellite courts in Blind River, in Espanola in the Sudbury District and she indicated she could be asked to preside anywhere in the Northeastern region, including Manitoulin Island.

Ms. Peterson told The Expositor she is looking forward to her new position.

Justice Peterson is the daughter of Sault-area lawyer Larry Peterson and retired lawyer Patricia Tossell.

Patricia Boyd Tossell is a fourth generation Haweater. “I was born and raised in Gore Bay,” Ms. Tossell told The Expositor, noting she went on to practice law in Sault Ste. Marie. She is the sister of the late Judge Clifford Boyd of Kagawong. “I know Dana is very honoured and grateful to be appointed as a judge.”

“Dana was born in Sault Ste. Marie, and she visits Kagawong in the summer with my brother Mike Boyd and his wife Sharon and the family at their camp in Kagawong in the summer,” said Ms. Tossell, who for many years also had a cottage in Kagawong, and brought her daughter.

Justice Peterson followed the footsteps of her father and mother, in graduating from Queen’s University Law School.

Justice Peterson’s great-grandfather, Nolton H. Peterson founded a law firm in Bruce Mines in 1899 and travelled the North Shore servicing clients across Algoma. 

Nolton Peterson’s son Harold D. Peterson joined the practice with his father in 1945, forming the law partnership of Peterson and Peterson. The former was appointed magistrate for the Algoma District of Algoma and, in 1947, Harold Peterson took on the role of magistrate serving Blind River and Elliot Lake.

In 1967, Mr. Peterson was appointed provincial judge in the Criminal Division.

Ms. Tossell, whose brother is Mike Boyd of Edmonton, is originally from Kagawong. Their older brother and Dana’s uncle, Clifford Boyd was also raised in Gore Bay and began his law career in 1951, becoming a lawyer and practicing law in Gore Bay. He served as a Judge of the provincial court criminal division in Sault Ste. Marie from his appointment in 1965, retiring in 1989.

Justice Peterson’s great-grandfather, William Boyd, was a justice of the peace in Kagawong.

Justice Peterson was called to the bar in 2002. She has been an assistant Crown attorney since 2002. In 2017, she became the designated bilingual assistant Crown Attorney for the district of Algoma.

She was most recently the North regional sexual violence Crown and a member of the Sexual Violence Advisory Group.

Judge Peterson’s daughter Ella has been accepted at Dalhousie Law School and aspires to carry on the family tradition.