Walkem, George Anthony (1834–1908), judge and premier of British Columbia, Canada, was born 14 November 1834 at Newry, Co. Down, eldest of at least two sons of Charles Walkem, surveyor; nothing is known of his mother. His family moved to Quebec in 1847 when his father was appointed to the Royal Engineer staff in Canada, and he was educated at McGill College, where he studied law and was called to the bar of Lower Canada (1855). His admission was initially opposed by Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie, who preferred British-trained barristers but relented after the intervention of the governor. After practising in Kingston, Walkem moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1862 and was elected to the legislative council (1864–70). An influential politician, he argued in favour of union with Vancouver Island and supported the adoption of decimal currency. He was a successful barrister, built a large practice on the back of his defence of the Cariboo miners, and became a QC in 1873.
Confederation took place in 1871 and Walkem was elected a member of the legislative assembly of British Columbia, serving as chief commissioner of lands and works. He was appointed attorney general in 1873. Various scandals threatened to destabilise the government a year later, and he accepted the invitation to replace the premier, Amor de Cosmos, on 11 February 1874. He visited London and had discussions with Lord Carnarvon about leaving the confederation; when he returned to Victoria, the slogan of ‘Carnarvon or separation’ (meaning immediate Canadian support for the transcontinental railway or independence) became a rallying cry in British Columbia. Despite being linked to the scandals, Walkem and his government were returned to office in 1875. His administration was soon criticised, however, for passing a racist statute denying the vote to Chinese immigrants and Native Canadian peoples. Walkem also delayed a settlement on the Native land question, possibly in retaliation for the Ottawa government's enforcing unfavourable terms on the construction of the transcontinental railway. After losing a no-confidence motion he resigned as premier on 27 January 1876. Leader of the opposition for two years, he returned as premier in 1878, but his new administration was much less conciliatory and was noted for its anti-dominion position. He was the only premier in the history of British Columbia to serve two non-consecutive terms. After four abrasive years in government, he was defeated in a second no-confidence motion and resigned on 12 June 1882. Retiring from politics, he was appointed a puisne judge of the supreme court of British Columbia. A freemason, Walkem was a member of King Solomon's Lodge number 22 in Toronto.
He died 13 January 1908 at Victoria, British Columbia. His brother, Richard Thomas Walkem (1840–c.1910) was born in Co. Waterford and had a successful career as a barrister in British Columbia. He was professor of equity at Queen's University, Kingston, and the author of two works on legal matters, Wills (1874) and The married women's property acts (1875).