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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

New from McGill-Queen's: Cahill, Professional Autonomy and the Public Interest The Barristers' Society and Nova Scotia's Lawyers, 1825–2005

Publisher's blurb: In this institutional history of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society from its inception to the Legal Profession Act of 2005, Barry Cahill provides a chronological exploration of the profession's regulation in Nova Scotia and the critical role of the 
society. Based on extensive research conducted on internal documents, legislative records, and legal and general-interest periodicals and newspapers, Professional Autonomy and the Public Interest demonstrates that the inauguration of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society was the first giant step on the long road to self-regulation. Highlighting the inherent tensions between protection of professional self-interest and protection of the larger public interest, Cahill explains that while this radical innovation was opposed by both lawyers and judges, it was ultimately imposed by the Liberal government in 1899. In light of emerging models of regulation in the twenty-first century, Professional Autonomy and the Public Interest is a timely look back at the origins of professional regulatory bodies and the evolution of law affecting the legal profession in Atlantic Canada.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Reminder: Book Launch today (November 7, 2019) at Osgoode Hall

Join us for the Osgoode Society’s Annual Book Launch on November 7 from 5:00 to 7:30 in Convocation Hall at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West.
We are celebrating the publication of two fine works of legal history:
Please RSVP to Amanda Campbell via email or by telephone at 416-947-3321.
We look forward to seeing you there.

Final legal history for legal professionals evening for 2019, Monday November 25th

Our final legal history for legal professionals evening will take place on Monday, November 25th at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen St. West, Toronto.

Come to hear our R. Roy McMurtry Fellows discuss the fascinating research in the history of Canadian law and the legal profession that won them this award! Please RSVP to Amanda Campbell at

This event is free to members of the society. Visit our membership page for details on becoming a member or renewing your membership.

Anna Jarvis,, PHD candidate in history at York University will speak on Patronage and the Canadian Colonial Judiciary: Edward Jarvis of Prince Edward Island."
This presentation will look at the role patronage played in the life and career of Edward James Jarvis, who was Chief Justice of Prince Edward Island from 1828-1852. Jarvis was part of a second generation of Loyalist families whose fathers sought to further their son's careers by drawing on professional, community, and family ties, networks those sons in turn drew on for their own sons. Jarvis sought the patronage of fellow attorneys, judges, colonial officials, and other prominent figures to further his legal career, illustrating the ways in which the patronage system functioned to maintain social, economic, and political divisions and hierarchies within colonial society.

Filippo Sposini, PHD candidate at the Institute of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, will speak on 'Just the Basic Facts: The Certification of Insanity in Ontario (1870s-1890s)"
The certification of insanity was a medico-legal procedure regulating admission into psychiatric institutions. My presentation will focus on the certification procedure developed during the second half of the nineteenth-century in Ontario. Taking the Toronto Lunatic Asylum as a case study, I will explore the introduction of certificates of insanity, examination practices, and people involved in the process. I will show that certification in Ontario was a consensus-based procedure shielding medical practitioners from potential legal actions.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Friday, October 18--Justice Sharpe on the Persons Case

On the 90th anniversary of the Persons case decision, Justice Robert Sharpe will present a lecture based on his book, The Persons Case, which he co-authored with Patricia McMahon

The 1929 Persons Case, declaring women to be legal "persons" and thus eligible for appointment to Canada's Senate, is one of the most important constitutional decisions in Canadian history.

This lecture will consider the case in its political and social context and examines the lives and views of the people behind it - Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung and the other members of the "famous five," the politicians who barred women from the Senate, the lawyers who argued the case, and the judges who decided it.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and presented by Yorkminster Speaker Series. Please visit the speaker series website for more information.        

Friday, October 4, 2019

McNeil, Flawed Precedent: The St. Catharine's Case and Aboriginal Title

Via the Legal History Blog (which always gets notifications before I do :(
Kent McNeil (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University) has published Flawed Precedent: The St. Catherine's Case and Aboriginal Title in UBC Press' Landmark Cases in Canadian Law series. From the publisher:
Flawed Precedent
In 1888, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London ruled in St. Catherine’s Milling and Lumber Company v. The Queen, a case involving the Saulteaux people’s land rights in Ontario. This precedent-setting case would define the legal contours of Aboriginal title in Canada for almost a hundred years, despite the racist assumptions about Indigenous peoples at the heart of the case.
In Flawed Precedent, preeminent legal scholar Kent McNeil thoroughly investigates this contentious case. He begins by delving into the historical and ideological context of the 1880s. He then examines the trial in detail, demonstrating how prejudicial attitudes towards Indigenous peoples and their use of the land influenced the decision. He also discusses the effects that St. Catherine’s had on Canadian law and policy until the 1970s when its authority was finally questioned by the Supreme Court in Calder, then in Delgamuukw, Marshall/Bernard, Tsilhqot’in, and other key rulings.
McNeil has written a compelling and illuminating account of a landmark case that influenced law and policy on Indigenous land rights for almost a century. He also provides an informative analysis of the current judicial understanding of Aboriginal title in Canada, now driven by evidence of Indigenous law and land use rather than by the discarded prejudicial assumptions of a bygone era.

Legal History Evening 28 October now accredited for 1 hour professionalism AND EDI

Really good news--the Law Society has accredited our October 28, 2019 legal history evening programme for one hour professionalism and EDI!
This evening is open to, and free for, Osgoode Society members. Join today!

The LSO says:

Professionalism Hours Accredited

Your “No Thought of Reconciliation: The New Dominion and the Indian Acts, 1867-1914” program to be held on October 28, 2019 has been accredited for 1 hour of Professionalism Content.

The Professionalism Hours have been allocated as follows:

Session Title

Approved Professionalism Hours

Approved EDI Professionalism Hours
Prof. Phillips’ Lecture followed by Audience Question and Answer Period
1 hour

Substantive Hours

Only Professionalism Hours must be accredited by the Law Society. Lawyers and paralegals must determine for themselves whether an activity is an eligible educational activity for CPD and qualifies for Substantive Hours. For more information about Substantive Hours, please see CPD Requirement<>.

Advertising Guidelines

The accreditation of Professionalism Hours may be advertised or indicated as follows:

This program contains 1 hour of EDI Professionalism Content.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Letter from Jim Phillips to legal history workshop distribution list

Osgoode Society editor-in-chief Jim Phillips sent this email this morning to people on the Osgoode Society legal history workshop distribution list--reproduced here for those not on the list (in order to be added to the list to get info on our workshop and copies of papers being presented please email Jim at It's true--Osgoode Society membership is a good deal, especially for students.

Dear Friends. I know that many of you on this list are members of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. For those of you who are not, or who were in the past but forgot to renew your membership this year, I urge you to consider joining the Society. It is Canada’s leading legal historical organization, and one of the preeminent such societies in the world. We are a membership organization, with lawyers, judges, academics, students in law and history, and others who think history matters. Since 1981 we have published over 100 books on Canadian legal history, and there are many more in the pipeline. We publish mainly with the University of Toronto Press, although we also work with McGill-Queen’s, UBC Press, and others.

The Society also runs one of the largest oral history programmes in the legal historical world, amassing an archive of current participants in legal developments that will be of great utility to future historians.

And – what a bargain membership is! Regular memberships are just $60,  and with membership you receive the annual members book. Student memberships are $25, and with membership you also receive the annual members book. We put out regular newsletters, hold legal history events, and run a small research grants programme. Not the least important, the Society pays the expenses associated with running this workshop.

To find out more about us, and to join, please go to Happy to answer any questions you have.