Romain W. M. Pitt, Judge / Co-Founder of Caribana, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board
Romain Pitt was born in 1935 in Grenada and was the nephew of the first black lawyer in Ontario: B.J. Pitt. He would eventually follow in his uncle’s footsteps by making legal history in Ontario.
Like many people from the Caribbean, Romain came to Canada to study and obtained an Honours BA in Economics from the University of Toronto. He decided to attend law school and graduated with an LLB in 1963. He was called to the Ontario bar in 1965 and got a job practising law with the firm Blaney, Pasternak. He remained there for two years.
Romain was one of the original organizers of the first Caribana and attended the planning meeting in 1966 and became the Deputy Chair of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC).
At the time, Romain really held to the idea that the CCC was to be an apolitical organization and that there were 21 board members that made up its structure. This large number was to enable the committee to have an ample supply of volunteers, and its abstinence from politics, ensured that there would be as little political conflict between members as possible. Politics was on people’s minds as Caribbean and African countries were gaining independence and Blacks in the United States were carrying out their Civil Rights Movement.
From Blaney, Pasternak, Romain moved on to make history by starting the first Black law partnership in Ontario with partner, Eric Lindsay. Eric was a lawyer who was also involved in organizing the first Caribana, Their firm was called the Law Firm of Lindsay & Pitt. The partnership dissolved in 1976 and Pitt maintained sole proprietorship until 1992.
Since one of Romain’s close friends was Denham Jolly, owner of the first Black-owned radio station in Canada FLOW 93.5FM, in October 1982, Denham convened a meeting of 25 prominent Blacks in the community at the Underground Railroad restaurant and Roman was present giving the introductory remarks at the meeting. The result was the creation of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA), which still exists today and culminates in the annual Harry Jerome Awards.
After Romain gave up his firm, he began working with Victor Burke. He stayed there until 1994 when he was appointed as an Ontario Superior Court judge. He was the first Black lawyer from a private practice in Ontario to do so.
Romain was the Director of the Canadian Institute for Administration of Justice from 1996-2000 and was previously on the board of the Urban Race Relations Alliance. He has also been a trustee of the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Romain has mentored high school students interested in attending law school at the University of Toronto and won the Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding contributions to his community and the making of Canada. Romain is currently retired and is married to his wife Anabelle.
Education: Honours BA, Economics, University of Toronto (1959); LLB, University of Toronto (1963)
Awards: Golden Jubilee Medal