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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Campbell, "Race, Upper Canadian Constitutionalism and 'British Justice'"

In the February 2015 issue of the Law & History Review, Lyndsay Campbell of the University of Calgary has an article "Race, Upper Canadian Constitutionalism and 'British Justice.'"

Here's the abstract: 

This article explores a puzzle in Canadian legal historiography: the meaning of “British justice” and its relationship to race. Scholars have noted the use of this term in the interwar years of the twentieth century, to object to demonstrations of racial bias in the legal system. The puzzle is why. From the mid-1850s onward, statutes aimed at circumscribing the rights and opportunities of aboriginal people multiplied. British Columbia passed anti-Chinese, anti-Japanese, and anti-Indian legislation. Saskatchewan prohibited Chinese and Japanese employers from hiring white women. At least some officials supposed that legislation targeting African Canadians would be permissible. In 1924, the Toronto Telegram called for a poll tax against Jews. It is clear that between 1880 and 1920 or thereabouts, federal and provincial law was deeply involved in creating and reifying legal categories that rested explicitly on physical distinctions perceived to exist among people, which were assumed to signal morally and legally relevant characteristics. Why, then, would anyone have thought that “British justice” should be a shield against racism?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Roundtable Discussion on Criminal Justice History at U of T, March 6th

The Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto is hosting a roundtable discussion on Criminal Justice History on Friday, March 6th.

Here's the notice:

Roundtable discussion:

Criminal Justice History

Speakers: Prof. Li Chen (Historical & Cultural Studies, University of Toronto),
Prof. Paul Craven (Social Science, York University) and
Prof. Jim Phillips (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto)
Moderator: Prof. Doug Hay (Osgoode & History Dept., York University)

Friday March 6th, 2015
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Ericson Seminar Room
2nd Floor, Canadiana Gallery Building
14 Queen’s Park Crescent West
The discussion will be followed by a wine and cheese in the Centre’s lounge from 5:00pm-6:00pm
If you are a person with a disability and require accommodation, please contact Lori Wells at 416-978-3722 x226 or email and we will do our best to make appropriate arrangements.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Watch Ian Kyer speak on the history of legal education in Ontario

Recently legal historian Ian Kyer spoke to the Osgoode Hall Law School first year class on the development of legal education in Ontario through the stories of six lawyers.

Here's the video:

For further reading: 

The Fiercest Debate: Cecil A. Wright, The Benchers And Legal Education In Ontario, C. Ian Kyer and Jerome Bickenbach. Published by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History with the University of Toronto Press, 1987

Lawyers, Families, and Businesses: The Shaping of a Bay Street Law Firm, Faskens 1863-1963 by C. Ian Kyer, published by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History with Irwin Law, 2013

Friday, January 30, 2015

New from University of Calgary Press: Smith, A Historical and Legal Study of Sovereignty in the Canadian North: Terrestrial Sovereignty, 1870-1939

Via the Legal History Blog:

New Release: Smith, "A Historical and Legal Study of Sovereignty in the Canadian North: Terrestrial Sovereignty, 1870-1939"

New from the University of Calgary Press: A Historical and Legal Study of Sovereignty in the Canadian North: Terrestrial Sovereignty, 1870-1939 (Nov. 2014), by the late Gordon W. Smith, edited by P. Whitney Lackenbauer (St. Jerome's University). The Press explains:
Gordon W. Smith, PhD, dedicated much of his life to researching Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic. A historian by training, his 1952 dissertation from Columbia University on "The Historical and Legal Background of Canada's Arctic Claims" remains a foundational work on the topic, as does his 1966 chapter "Sovereignty in the North: The Canadian Aspect of an International Problem," in R. St. J. Macdonald's The Arctic Frontier. This work is the first in a project to edit and publish Smith's unpublished opus a manuscript on "A Historical and Legal Study of Sovereignty in the Canadian North and Related Law of the Sea Problems." Written over three decades (yet incomplete at the time of his death in 2000), this work may well be the most comprehensive study on the nature and importance of the Canadian North in existence.
Volume 1: Terrestrial Sovereignty provides the most comprehensive documentation yet available on the post-Confederation history of Canadian sovereignty in the north. As Arctic sovereignty and security issues return to the forefront of public debate, this invaluable resource provides the foundation upon which we may expand our understanding of Canada's claims from the original transfers of the northern territories in 1870 and 1880 through to the late twentieth century. The book provides a wealth of detail, ranging from administrative formation and delineation of the northern territories through to other activities including government expeditions to northern waters, foreign whaling, the Alaska boundary dispute, northern exploration between 1870 and 1918, the background of Canada's sector claim, the question concerning Danish sovereignty over Greenland and its relation to Canadian interests, the Ellesmere Island affair, the activities of American explorers in the Canadian North, and the Eastern Arctic Patrol. The final chapter examines the Eastern Greenland case and its implications for Canada.
Free PDFs of individual chapters are available for download here, at the Press's website.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Promislow, "Treaties in History and Law"

Janna Promislow of Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law has published an insightful reflection on competing legal historical perspectives in aboriginal treaty narratives in her article "Treaties in History and Law,", published in the October 2014 issue of the University of British Columbia Law Review.

Here's the abstract:

Negotiated solutions – and in particular, treaties – have long been touted by scholars, policy-makers and political leaders as the best way to resolve outstanding issues between the Crown and aboriginal peoples and to move towards post-colonial relationships. Canadian treaty jurisprudence, however, does not adequately support these ambitions. Part of the problem lies in the historical narrative of treaties that emerges from the law.
This paper explores the relationship between the disciplines of law and history in relation to Canadian treaties and treaty jurisprudence, including indigenous approaches within both fields. It aims to identify points of tension between the disciplines to highlight how treaty narratives are differently constructed – one emphasizing tentative and evolving working relationships (history) and one emphasizing historical completion and resolutions (law). This exploration underpins an argument that to serve the post-colonial “promise” of treaties, treaty jurisprudence must be more coherent with historicist narratives and provide remedies that support the work-in-progress nature of treaty relationships.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ACDS-CLSA Graduate Student Essay Prize

ACDS-CLSA Graduate Student Essay Prize
The Canadian Law and Society Association / Association Canadienne Droit et Société invites submissions for the ACDS-CLSA Graduate Student Essay Prize. Graduate students at Canadian universities are cordially invited to submit papers on socio-legal issues, past, present, and future. Papers should be approximately 6,000-8,000 words long and should be submitted in .doc or .docx format. The winning essay will be announced at the ACDS-CLSA Annual Meeting in the Summer of 2015.
Papers must be submitted by March 31, 2015 to Robert Diab ( and Sophie Thériault (, members of the ACDS-CLSA Graduate Student Essay Prize Committee. 

L’Association Canadienne Droit et Société sollicite par la présente des manuscrits aux fins de son concours destiné aux étudiant.e.s aux études supérieures. Les étudiant.e.s aux études supérieures incrit.e.s à un programme d’étude au sein d’une université canadienne sont cordialement invité.e.s à soumettre leurs essais portant sur des enjeux socio-juridiques. Les essais doivent comporter entre 6000 et 8000 mots, et être soumis en format .doc ou .docx. Le ou la récipiendaire sera annoncé.e lors de la rencontre annuelle de l’ACDS-CLSA, qui aura lieu durant l’été 2015. 
Les essais doivent être soumis au plus tard le 31 mars 2015 à Robert Diab (<>) et Sophie Thériault (<>), membres du Comité des prix de l’ACDS-CLSA pour le meilleur essai étudiant.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Corrected :Daum Shanks, "A Story of Marguerite: A Tale About Panis, Case Comment, and Social History" on SSRN

*Signa Daum Shanks of Osgoode Hall Law School has posted  "A Story of Marguerite: A Tale About Panis, Case Comment, and Social History" on SSRN.  The article is published in Native Studies Review, 22(1-2). 


Those interested in social history contend that social norms deserve attention due to how they impact and are affected by historical events. This subfield has contributed significantly to how larger historical mosaics are understood, and how themes specific to marginalized groups are appreciated today. By presenting the story of an Indigenous woman in New France, and focusing on her representation in the colonial legal system, a number of themes emerge. Canada’s history of slavery becomes better understood, and in so doing, a challenge to social historians is presented. By examining the legal procedure applied to an Indigenous litigant’s circumstances, and then dissecting the events that followed, the strength of social norms during her time is appreciated more fully. Integrating an era’s legal doctrine into historical analysis augments the social historian’s search for society influence on the individual in history.

* Professor Daum Shanks provided a correction to my original post, which said the article was published in 2013. In fact, it was published a few months ago, but the volume is dated 2013.