Acalus Palmer was born in Sackville to Philip Palmer and Sarah Ayer. He was educated in Sackville, studied law with Edward Barron Chandler and was admitted to the bar in 1846. In 1850, he married Martha Ann Welden.
His former home at 29 Queen Square North in Saint John is designated a Local Historic Place for its architecture and for its association with its former occupants.
The Acalus Palmer Residence is recognized as one of a collection of residential and commercial Italianate and Second Empire buildings that were built between 1877 and 1881 after two thirds of the City of Saint John were destroyed by fire in 1877.
Built about 1878, this residence is a good example of Italianate residential architecture form the city’s rebuilding period following the fire. The elements and design of Judge Palmer’s Residence demonstrate that the city was going to be rebuilt as well or better than the city that was lost.
Palmer practiced law in Dorchester until 1867 when he moved to Saint John. In the same year, he became a Queen’s Counsel. He ran unsuccessfully in Northumberland County for a seat in the provincial assembly before Confederation and again unsuccessfully for the City of Saint John in 1870. Palmer was elected to the House of Commons of Canada as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada on October 12, 1872, to represent the riding of the City and County of Saint John and he was re-elected in 1874. He was defeated on September 17, 1878.
In 1879, he was named a Judge of equity. For several years, Palmer was president of the Barrister’s Society of New Brunswick. Palmer’s chambers on Princess Street, containing law offices, were erected for him in 1878. His brothers Rufus and Martin served in the New Brunswick assembly.
Palmer became a Judge of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick in 1879 at about the time he had this home on Queen Square North constructed. He quickly became one of the most respected judges in Canada.
He retired from the bench in 1894 and moved to the United States where he died in 1899. His daughter, Fannie, remained in this home until 1908.
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