Search This Blog

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More kind words for Sharpe's The Last Day,The Last Hour: The Currie Libel Trial

From Gary P. Rodrigues at Slaw.

Says Gary:

"My suggestion, if you haven’t already done so, is to check it out. The Last Day, The Last Hour is a good read and a valuable contribution to Canada’s legal, political and military history. You will like it."

Mr. Justice Sharpe's new book, The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884, the Osgoode Society's  book of the year for 2011, is just as good a read. Either of these books would make a good Christmas present....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Philip Girard new legal history columnist at Law Times

Astute readers of the Law Times will have noticed that Philip Girard has succeeded Christopher Moore as the legal history columnist.

Here's the link to the November 21st issue. Philip's column is on page 6.

Chris did a great job with this gig--accessible yet scholarly--and fans of legal history will no doubt find Philip's efforts excellent as well. Caveat lector: the digital version of the Law Times is not easy to navigate. But the print version is fine--just turn the pages.

MacLaren to speak on Comparative Turn at Griffith Legal History Seminar

Readers in the vicinity of Griffith Law School (South Bank Campus, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) may be interested in hearing John MacLaren at the Legal History Seminar Series on Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 5:30 for 6 pm. Registration required (classy, I guess?) Professor MacLaren will speak and answer questions about the 'Comparative Turn in Legal History,'  for which task no-one is more qualified. More information here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Schneiderman review of Vaughan biography of Haldane

We get requests!

David Schneiderman of the U of T Faculty of Law and Department of Political Science has sent along a note about his review of Frederick Vaughan's biography, Viscount Haldane: 'The Wicked Stepfather of the Canadian Constitution.'  'Haldane unrevealed' will appear in the McGill Law Journal and is currently available on SSRN.

Suffice it to say Schneiderman is not a fan of the book. Here's the abstract:

When historians proffer historical truths they "must not merely tell truths," they must "demonstrate their truthfulness as well," observes Hackett Fisher. As against this standard, Frederick Vaughan's intellectual biography of Richard Burdon Haldane does not fare so well. Vaughan argues that Viscount Haldane's jurisprudential tilt, which favoured the provinces in Canadian federalism cases before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), was rooted in Haldane's philosophizing about Hegel. He does so, however, without much reference to the political and legal currents within which Haldane thought, wrote, and thrived. More remarkably, Vaughan does not derive from his reading of Haldane and Hegel any clear preference for the local over the national. We are left to look elsewhere for an explanation for Haldane's favouring of the provincial side in division-of-powers cases. Vaughan additionally speculates about why Haldane's predecessor Lord Watson took a similar judicial path, yet offers only tired and unconvincing rationales. Vaughan, lastly, rips Haldane out of historical context for the purpose of condemning contemporary Supreme Court of Canada decision-making under the Charter. Under the guise of purposive interpretation, Vaughan claims that the justices are guilty of constitutionalizing a "historical relativism" that Vaughan wrongly alleges Hegel to have propounded. While passing judgment on the book's merits, the purpose of this review essay is to evaluate the book by situating it in the historiographic record, a record that Vaughan ignores at his peril.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Constance Backhouse wins SSHRCC Gold Medal

Breaking news from IFLS: Constance Backhouse has been awarded a Gold Medal from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her achievement in interdisciplinary research in law.

Congratulations yet again, Constance!

From the press release:

Since Backhouse began her career in the study of law more than 30 years ago, her chosen topics have been issues of major importance in Canada’s legal history: the legal status of women, the role of women in the legal profession, and racism in the legal system. Her research and analysis of these topics have highlighted an important part of our legal and societal history, which, in turn, has helped enrich our understanding of our current legal framework.
Throughout her career, Backhouse has received high acclaim for her research from both academic and non-academic communities. Among her many awards and honours are the Killam Prize (2008), a Trudeau Fellowship (2006-09), the Order of Canada (2008), and the Order of Ontario (2010). In 2007, she became the first non-American historian to be elected president of the American Society for Legal History.
Backhouse has authored numerous critically acclaimed books, including Legal history of Racism in Canada, which was awarded the 2002 Joseph Brant award by the Ontario Historical Society as the “best book in multicultural history published within the past three years.” Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975, published in 2009, was lauded as one of the most important texts ever published on sexual assault law. In honour of her distinguished contribution to law and letters in Canada, Backhouse was awarded the David W. Mundell Medal by the attorney general of Ontario this past spring
.Not least of her many achievements is putting Canadian Legal History on the map (and keeping it there) and her encourgement and support for legal historians, for which there is no reward but our continued thanks and appreciation.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Call for Legal History papers for Congress 2012

And other socio-legal subjects...

The important thing: Lyndsay Campbell is to be commended for reaching out to the Canadian Historical Association to co-ordinate Canadian legal history panels with the Canadian Law and Society Association, and I hope lots of us take her up on this initiative.

Here's the CFP: (It's long, so I didn't include the French version which is, or will be shortly, available at the CLSA/ACDS website. Information on Congress 2012 is here.)

The program committee of the Canadian Law and Society Association invites submissions for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences to be held at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. The theme of Congress 2012, Crossroads: Scholarship for an Uncertain World is an opportunity for socio-legal scholars to explore law’s place in the contingencies of world events, past, present and future. We welcome proposals for papers in any area of law and society scholarship. We encourage participants to submit suggestions for complete panels and roundtables but also welcome individual submissions. Graduate student events and workshops will be an integral part of CLSA 2012.
We are open to having a number of panels that focus on particular themes, such as critical criminology, gender & sexuality and indigenous legal knowledge. As well, we are attempting some measure of coordination between our meeting and those of the Canadian Sociological Association and the Canadian Historical Association, so if you are planning to participate in or even just attend either of those meetings, please do feel free indicate that on your submission.

Where: Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
When: 27-29 May 2012
Deadline: January 27, 2012 (early expressions of interest are encouraged and appreciated)
Submission information: Please forward panel and paper proposals by email attachment to Lyndsay Campbell, Chair, CLSA Programme Committee, Presenters must be members of the CLSA. They must also pay the Congress’s fees, including the society fee for the CLSA.
Please supply the following information in a Word file (.docx, .doc, or .rtf) attached to your email:

Position (if you are a graduate student, please specify)
Other presenters, their institutional affiliations and their contact information

Panel theme (if you are submitting a proposal for a full panel)

Paper title (or titles, if a full panel is being submitted)

Abstract(s) (150-250 words each)

Keywords describing your topic (to be used in coordinating papers on panels)

Technological needs (PowerPoint/projector, accessibility requirements etc.)
                 Are you willing to act as a Chair for another panel?
Information on registration, accommodation and other Congress activities will be available through the websites of the Federation, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University. A registration guide should be available in January 2012.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

M.A. Thesis on Legal Practice in New France

A thesis by Alexandra Havrylyshyn of the Department of History at McGill (available on Proquest Theses & Dissertations ) focusses on ancien regime low law. The title is "Troublesome Trials in New France: The Itinerary of an Ancien Regime Legal Practitioner, 1740--1743."

Here's the abstract:

This microhistory on one legal practitioner seeks to begin to fill the lacunae in the understanding of legal practice in New France by relying on the richness of Québec's archives. Jacques Nouette de la Poufellerie originated in France but practiced in the colony of Canada between the years 1740-1743. In this short time span, over 100 parties hired him as their legal proxy. A collective biography of Nouette's professional network of practitioners, as well as his clientèle, is first performed. The more socially controversial among Nouette's cases, including the only freedom suit to take place in the Ancien Régime period in early Canada, are then examined in detail. Finally, Nouette's precarious social standing and his eventual expulsion from the colony are investigated. By focusing on the itinerary of one of the agents who shuttled between people and the courts of New France, this thesis also contributes to a re-conceptualization of black-letter legal history as "legality" contingent on its socio-historical context.

Nouette's story sounds fascinating. But legality contingent on its socio-historical context? Who knew? :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Symposium on Law and the French Atlantic

Allan Greer of McGill University is one of the organizers of the Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History, to be held at the Newberry Library in Chicago from 9-5 on Friday, October 5, 2012 entitled Law and the French Atlantic.

The announcement:

The French Atlantic has not yet received the sustained attention given to the British and Spanish Atlantic, particularly where the topic of law is concerned. This conference will explore the legal dimension (broadly conceived) of the French Atlantic empire in the early modern period. The variegated and rapidly evolving juridical order of ancien régime France was deeply implicated in the expansion of overseas commerce, the founding of colonies, and the creation of imperial administrations. Participants may explore topics such as: legal discourse and imperial ideologies; the establishment of colonial jurisdictions in Canada, Louisiana, and the French West Indies; the regulation of slavery; indigenous peoples and the law; the emergence of colonial land tenures; and the legal framework for trade and business enterprise. The organizers wish particularly to encourage comparative approaches that consider more than one French colony and that examine contrasts and convergences with the British, Spanish and Portuguese empires. In according due attention to the distinctive features of French law and the French New World empire, we hope to enrich understandings of Atlantic history generally.

Chen on Legal Specialists and Judicial Administration in Late Imperial China, 1651-1911

Li Chen of the University of Toronto has posted "Legal Specialists and Judicial Administration in Late Imperial China, 1651-1911" on SSRN.  The article will appear in the journal Late Imperial China, Vol. 33, No. 2, June 2012.

Here's the abstract:

This article studies the historical origin, legal training, career patterns, professional identity and ethics, judicial philosophy, and scale of professionalization of thousands of legal specialists in late imperial China from about 1651 to 1911. It is the first serious, extensive study in English of these early modern Chinese jurists and legal professionals who were the de facto judges in probably most of the 1650 Chinese local governments/courts for more than two centuries. For the first time, it uses archival sources to offer an estimate of about 3,000 such trained legal specialists working in local Chinese governments in any given year from roughly 1711 to 1911, which means an estimated total of 30,000 for that period as a whole, assuming an average tenure of 20 years of full employment for them. This study calls for a rethinking of much of the received wisdom on late imperial Chinese law and society, judicial administration, culture and politics, as well as their legacy on modern China's drive for the rule of law. It will also be of value to scholars of comparative law, legal philosophy, professionalism, and Asian legal cultures

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Archivists plead to keep records of gun registry

Three cheers for the Association of Canadian Archivists, and former national chief archivist Ian Wilson, pointing out the ways in which the Conservative Government's intent to destroy the registry records is short-sighted (at best) since the current LAC staff are unable to protest by reason of bureaucratic confidentiality and neutrality.

As the National Post article (!) points out, not only will future Blake Browns be deprived of valuable information, but it sets a very bad precedent for the maintenance of public data (although the change in the census law kind of did that already.)

Join the CLSA/ACDS!

While the Osgoode Society is a great book club and virtual meeting place for Canadian legal history buffs from all walks of life (and everyone who reads this blog should be a member), legal historians from the Canadian academy (current and retired faculty and graduate students) have no real dedicated associational home. Many of us are members of the American Society for Legal History, an organization which is dominated by Americans but is not confined to that breed. And joining the ASLH is a great idea.

So is joining the Canadian Law and Society Association. As the name suggests, this is a group for scholars whose interests can broadly be described as socio-legal. Many teach in law schools, others hail from the disciplines of criminology, sociology, anthropology and political science. The society is a big tent; the association's board has traditionally included legal historians and their conference programmers ensure that legal history panels are included in conference agendas. The CLSA is also consciously grad student friendly. It is true that the association's journal, the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, has not been over-burdened with legal history pieces, but this is not editorial policy--there are several historians on the current editorial board (including me). This lacuna is probably due to the practice of legal historians submitting to history or legal journals in a kind of path dependence.

All of which is to say: join or renew your membership, attend the annual conferences and consider submitting your articles to the CJLS!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Osgoode Society launches four books

Yesterday evening the Osgoode Society launched its four books for 2011.  The reception was addressed by R. Roy McMurtry, the society's founder and current president, Jim Phillips, society editor-in-chief and the four authors.

The 2011 'member's book' (included with the $45 annual membership) is "The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884" by Mr. Justice Robert J. Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal.  The book is a case study of a notorious but legally insigificant murder trial in rural Ontario, the impact of the murder on the community, the impact of the community on the investigation and judicial process, and the lasting effects of these events on local culture.

The 'optional extras' for the year are:
"Lawyers and Legal Culture in British North America: Beamish Murdoch of Halifax" by Professor Philip Girard of the Schulich Law School, Dalhousie University;

Westward Bound: Sex Violence, the Law and the Making of a Settler Society by Professor Lesley Erickson of the Department of History, University of Calgary;

and hot off the presses, "Dewigged, Bothered & Bewildered: British Colonial Judges on Trial, 1800-1900", a collection of case studies of Judges whose behaviour and activites landed them in hot water across the British Empire, by John McLaren, Emeritus Professor, University of Victoria Faculty of Law.

For more information on membership in the Osgoode Society or to inquire about purchasing any or all of these books, please contact Marilyn MacFarlane, society administrator at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Legal History Panels for CLSA 2012

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST: Legal History Panels for CLSA 2012 / DÉCLARATIONS D’INTÉRÊT: Sessions de l’histoire et du droit 2012

The 2012 Canadian Law and Society Association meeting, to be held on 27-29 May, will overlap with the meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, to be held 28-30 May. Both meetings will be part of Congress 2012, to be hosted by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. Although the theme for the general CLSA program has not been set and the call for papers has not yet been issued, it seems like a good opportunity to create some bridges between these two associations. There may be a possibility of arranging the CLSA programme on 27 May so as to make it easier for those planning to attend the CHA meeting to participate in the CLSA meeting as well. It also might be possible to offer sessions co-hosted by the two associations.
The CHA recently called for papers with a deadline of 19 October. It has been CLSA’s practice not to require paper proposals until the end of January, when the CHA’s program will already be fixed. Given this situation, it would be very helpful if those who are contemplating submitting legal history proposals to the CLSA meeting were to send early expressions of interest, so that we can try to coordinate the two programmes. Therefore, if you are interested in a) submitting a legal history paper or a full panel to the CLSA meeting; or b) participating in a session co-hosted by CLSA and CHA (which might occur any time between 27 and 30 May), would you please advise the CLSA’s programme coordinator of your intentions before 31 October. Please do indicate as well whether you plan to attend the CLSA meeting, the CHA meeting, or both.
Again, to be clear, this is a call for expressions of interest in finding some points for connection between the CLSA annual meeting program and the CHA's annual meeting.  The call for papers for the CLSA annual meeting will appear in November.
The CLSA’s programme coordinator for 2012 is [legal historian] Lyndsay Campbell (University of Calgary), who may be reached at or 403.220.8889.


La conférence annuelle de l’Association canadienne droit et société (ACDS) aura lieu à l’Université de Waterloo et l’Université Wilfred Laurier les 27 au 29 mai  2012.  Cette année, il y aura un chevauchement entre cette conférence et celle de la Société historique du Canada (SHC).   Le thème du programme n’ayant pas encore été déterminé et l’appel à communication n’a pas encore été circuler.  Nous le considérons donc cette conférence comme un moment propice de créer des liens entre ces deux organismes.  Ce serait possible, par exemple, d’organiser une journée ou une série de sessions consacrée au ‘droit et histoire.’ Ceci permettrait aux participants et participantes des deux organisations d’assister toutes les sessions qui s’adressent aux chercheur-E-s qui travaillent à l’intersection du droit et de l’histoire.
Noter, svp, que ce n’est qu’une demande de déclaration d’intérêt pour forger des ponts entre l’ACDS et la SHC durant leurs réunions annuelles respectives.
L’appel à communication générale pour l’ACDS sera circulé d’ici la mi-novembre.
En bref (1) si vous croyez soumettre à l’ACDS une proposition individuelle ou un panel entier, qui se situe aux points de rencontre de l’histoire et du droit, ou (2) si vous aimeriez participer aux sessions de l’ACDS et de la SHC comme hôtes conjoints (qui se dérouleront entre le 27 et le 30 mai), veuillez, svp, aviser Lyndsay Campbell  (University of Calgary) au < ou au 403.220.8889.   En effet, pour toutes questions concernant les réunions de l’ACDS, veuillez contacter Lyndsay, qui est la coordonnatrice du programme cette année.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Toronto Legal History Group Winter/Spring Schedule

The schedule for next term's legal history group presentations was sent out today:
January 11 - Paul Craven, York University: "Low Crimes and Misdemeanours."
January 25 - Marisha Caswell, Queen's University: "Married Women and the Criminal Law in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century England"
February 1- Douglas Hay, York University: "The Misdemeanour/Felony Distinction in the 18th and 19th centuries."
February 15 - Jed Shugerman, Harvard University: "The Origins of the US Department of Justice"
February 29 - Li Chen, University of Toronto: "Legal Knowledge and Justice in Late Imperial China, 1651-1911
March 14 - Coel Kirkby, Cambridge University: "The Imperial Origins of the Canadian Constitution."
March 28 - Michael Kogan, University of Toronto: "Soviet Legal Professionals and the Administration of Justice, 1945-1953".
April 11 - Jeff McNairn, Queen's University: "A Just and Obvious Distinction: The Meaning of Imprisonment for Debt and the Criminal Law in Upper Canada's Age of Reform"
Meetings take place in Flavelle House, U of T (Museum subway stop), at 6:30 p.m. If you aren't on the distribution list and would like to be, please email

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Canada Gazette (1841-1997) searchable online

Catching up with Slaw (Canada's award winning online legal magazine) today, I noticed this blog post of interest to legal (and other) historians who may have missed the LAC announcement. Thanks, Simon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Smith on North-West Transportation Co. v. Beatty (1887)

McGill/Oxford Equity guru Lionel Smith has posted "A Selfish Loyalty: North-West Transportation Co. Ltd v. Beatty" on SSRN. The essay will be published in Landmark Cases in Equity, C. Mitchell and P. Mitchell, eds., Oxford: Hart, 2012.

Here's the abstract:

North-West Transportation Co. Ltd. v. Beatty (1887), 12 App. Cas. 589 (P.C.) is well known throughout the Commonwealth as a foundational decision regarding the ability of corporate directors to contract with their own corporation, and in particular their ability to vote as shareholders for the approval of such conflict-affected contracts. The background to the case reveals a young nation in which enormous numbers of immigrants were seeking to start new lives on the western prairies. Before the trans-Canada railroad was completed in 1885, and long before a full road network was in place, shipping lines on the Great Lakes provided the only feasible way to reach the continental interior (the “North-West”).
The dispute in Beatty was about a contract by which one of the directors of a company, who was also its majority shareholder, sold a steamship to the company over the objections of minority shareholders. In giving its advice, the Privy Council arguably misunderstood the nature of the corporate entity involved in the case, and produced a solution that has puzzled and divided commentators and legislators ever since.
This paper traces the story of the Beattys and their influence in late-19th century Canada, and examines how the dispute arose and how it was resolved by four levels of courts. It goes on to assess the decision against the principles of corporate and fiduciary law, and to show how Canadian legislators have reacted against the Privy Council's decision with the result that in modern Canadian law, shareholder approval is often necessary for certain corporate decisions, but it is never sufficient to insulate such decisions from judicial review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Foster on Appeals and the B.C. Court of Appeal

Hamar Foster of the University of Victoria Faculty of Law has posted "Appeals and the British Columbia Court of Appeal" on SSRN. This "short essay on the history and procedures of the British Columbia Court of Appeal on the occasion of its 100th anniversary" appears in print in volume 68 of The Advocate (2010) at pp. 821-839.

Osgoode Society Announcement

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History is pleased to announce the appointment of Philip Girard of the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University as associate editor, a new position with the Society. Professor Girard, who is currently a visiting professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, will work with editor-in-chief Jim Phillips in the production of Osgoode Society publications.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fadel posts review essay on Hallaq on Islamic Law

In the latest edition of the Legal History E-Journal, links to a review essay by Mohammad Fadel of the U of T Faculty of Law. The essay will also appear in the Journal of the American Oriental Society (also available online at, but you can also download it from SSRN. The abstract does not make the historical aspect of the piece explicit, but I would think that calling something 'anti-modernist' probably includes 'non-historicized' (as a lesser included offence.)

Here's the abstract:

It has been almost 50 years since Joseph Schacht and Noel Coulson published their respective introductions to Islamic law. Both works have served as standard introductions to Islamic law to countless students ever since. The last generation of Islamic law scholarship, however, beginning in the 1980s, has produced a body of research that systematically surpassed the contents of both these books without, however, producing a new introductory survey to the topic. This gap in scholarship left the teacher of Islamic law in somewhat of a bind: the most accessible introductions to his subject did not reflect the current state of research, but current scholarship had not produced a suitable work that could replace either Coulson or Schacht. Wael Hallaq, in his work, "Shari'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations," attempts to fill this gap in the literature. This review essay argues that Shari'a does its job admirably, and will undoubtedly succeed as a worthy replacement for the earlier, but now largely superseded, works of Schacht and Coulson. Nevertheless, this review essay also argues that the book will also prove to be very controversial, given what appears to be its polemical, and in many cases, overtly anti-modernist tone. In particular, this review essays argues that Hallaq's work suffers from a systematic failure to provide a normative account of the political from an Islamic perspective and the normative relationship of Islamic law to politics. As a result of this absence, the case he presents for his principal thesis, that modern Islamic law is essentially illegitimate if not an outright oxymoron, is ultimately unpersuasive, and risks reinforcing already well-entrenched western stereotypes about Islam, Muslims and Islamic law

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blaine Baker corrects the record/Toronto Legal History Group

At a Toronto Legal History Group meeting this evening* (an excellent, well-attended presentation by Philip Girard on the legal history of women's citizenship in interwar Canada), Blaine Baker pointed out to me some errors in my earlier post on the project to establish a scholarship in his name at McGill. My post refers to Blaine as being retired, which is true only in a very technical sense. He is an emeritus professor at the McGill Faculty of Law, and teaches there three days a week. In addition, he did not teach at Osgoode and U of T prior to his appointment at McGill--rather, he was a visiting professor at those schools during his tenure at McGill, which was his first and only appointment. Hey, these things are important!

Actually, Blaine was very nice about it, which is always his way, and one of the reasons his former students want to fund the scholarship in the first place.  But I guess his reputation as an internetphobe is greatly exaggerated (although he did wait for the chance to see me, rather than setting me to rights by email, so some parts of the Baker legend are still true.) Once again, for more information or to pledge, email

*For info on the Toronto Legal History Group, which meets at 6:30 pm in Flavelle House in the U of T Faculty of Law on alternate Wednesdays (usually), to receive the schedule of presentations or to be put on the mailing list to receive the draft papers--which are not for quotation or citation unless otherwise stated--please email Jim Phillips ( The group includes faculty from universities in the GTA and beyond, graduate and undergraduate students, lawyers and anyone with an interest in legal history (often, but not always Canadian) as an academic subdiscipline of law and history. Every session has a different mix of attendees, depending on the subject and speaker, so feel free to email Jim and drop in as your interests and schedule allow.

Deadline to register for conference on patriation of the constitition looms

Eric Adams of the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta has asked me to notify/remind readers about the Centre for Constitutional Studies' upcoming Patriation Negotiations Conference.

Eric writes:

The conference will include extensive historical reflections on a key moment in Canadian constitutional history.

The date to take advantage of the early registration fee is about to pass. Students interested in attending should contact Patricia Paradis, Executive Director of the Centre for Constitutional Studies at asap regarding a special student conference rate.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Student Research Assistants sought for History of Ontario Court of Appeal Project

The Osgoode Society has a grant to produce a history of the Ontario Court of Appeal. Historian Christopher Moore has been engaged to do the research and writing. He will need some research assistants to do some basic digging in case reports. The project would like to hire RAs from all Ontario law schools.

Here's the call for applications:

Ontario Court of Appeal History
Research Assistantships in Ontario Legal History
October 2011-March 2012

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History is supporting a research and publication program on the history of the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Up to twenty Ontario law students may be hired to contribute to the research effort in 2011-12

Work Assignment:  To research published Law Reports on cases heard in the Ontario Court of Appeal, 1870s to date.  Using a reporting form (provided) to assemble quantitative legal/historical data on the cases.  To write Case Briefs summarizing issues in each case.  To assess the historical interest/significance of the cases.  Other legal-historical research as needed. Student contributions will be credited in publications that result.

Supervision:    General direction will be by historian Christopher Moore of Toronto, principally through email and/or a web-based network.  Completed reporting forms and statements of hours worked will be expected regularly by email.

Hours of Work and Pay: About 120 hours (6 hours weekly) in the October 2011-March 2012 academic term, at $20.00/hour including benefits.

Eligibility: Students should be enrolled in an Ontario Faculty of Law for the 2011-12 year.  If there are more applications than places, preference will be given to students who have some experience with Canadian history. However, this is not a pre-requisite.

Application Deadline: Priority will be given to applications received by Friday, October 7, 2011.

To Apply: Email a short statement of interest with an attached brief CV to Christopher Moore <

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Proposal for scholarship honouring Blaine Baker

McGill emeritus professor  G. Blaine Baker

Many (most? all?) readers of this blog will have received a letter from Jim Phillips advising them of a proposal to honour renowned Canadian legal historian Blaine Baker, who is admired by everyone who knows him and/or his work. Blaine retired recently from the faculty of the McGill Law School, where he taught administrative law, contracts and legal history and also served as associate dean. Prior to coming to McGill he taught at Osgoode Hall Law School and U of T. Some of his former students have begun to organize fundraising for an entrance scholarship to the law school to recognize his exemplary teaching and scholarship. For more details or to contribute please contact Ian Pilarczyk of Boston University Law at .

Friday, September 9, 2011

Millman online review of Sharpe on Currie Trial

Military historian Brock Millman of UWO has published on H-Law, (for which it was commissioned) a review of Justice Robert Sharpe's The Last Day, the Last Hour: The Currie Libel Trial, recently republished by the Osgoode Society. Here's the link to the review: a positive one, not surprisingly. As Millman points out, Sharpe's book deserves to be better known among military history scholars and Canadianists generally. So spread the word.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Philip Girard to be honoured at ASLH conference in Atlanta--be there!

Philip Girard of the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, and the Lewtas visiting scholar at Osgoode Hall Law School for the 2011-12 academic year, is well-known to all of us as one of our finest legal historians, a terrific teacher and colleague, the quintessential scholar and gentleman. (And if he's not known to all readers of this blog he should be--time to get cracking!)

Appropriately enough given Philip's interest in comparative legal history he is about to be celebrated outside our borders, when he is to be made an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Legal History at this year's annual conference in Atanta, Georgia, November 10-12--the first Canadian ever to be so honoured.
Constance Backhouse, current president of the ASLH (and also a pre-eminent Canadian legal historian for the hypothetical few who do not know), would very much like Philip's many friends and fans to think seriously about coming to the conference to join in the tribute.

The first panel of the programme, (which will be announced this week via the society's website) will be held on November 10th from 2-3:45 and will focus on Philip's accomplishments. Constance will chair the panel and introduce Philip and his work. She will be followed by three panellists, Jim Phillips, Jean-Philippe Garneau and I, each of whom will focus on one or more aspects of Philip's extremely wide-ranging historiographic  interests and influence, with time allocated for questions and discussion and for Philip to respond if he wishes.

The formal announcement of the honourary fellowship will be made at the Annual Luncheon on Saturday, Nov. 12. So those who are able to attend should try to stay for the entire conference.

This promises to be a terrific opportunity for the Canadian legal history community to get together to honour and support one of our brightest stars and have a wonderful time in the process.

Constance, Jim, Jean-Philippe and I (and I'm sure Philip as well!) would be thrilled to see you there.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dissertation on the rise of the Canadian Penitentiary

Proquest Theses & Dissertations has a new dissertation on "The rise of the modern Canadian penitentiary, 1835--1900" by Ted McCoy of Trent University"s Canadian Studies Program.

Here's the abstract:
The penitentiary is an indelible feature of Canadian modernity. Yet the rise of the modern penitentiary was fraught with struggle, uncertainty, and contradictions that underscored its difficult gestation in Canadian society. This dissertation seeks to address how the penitentiary developed, the influences that drove its evolution, and the effect of the institution on the men and women it touched. It explores three thematic concerns running through this-history, between 1835 and 1900. The dissertation addresses the penitentiary's political economy, cultural history, and discursive contributions to the idea of criminality.
Chapter One introduces and outlines the dissertation's theoretical influences and contributions. It identifies the key secondary literatures on which the research draws and suggests a new revisionist direction that combines the insights of both political economy and social history. The remainder of the dissertation is split into two main parts. The first section provides historical context. Chapter Two establishes the boundaries of the political economy that influenced the early history of Canadian penitentiaries. It addresses both American and British influences and details the economic underpinnings of the first penitentiary at Kingston. Chapter Three explores the cultural history of the prison reform movements that played a major role in how the penitentiary developed. In particular, it details the scandals that beset the early institution to explain how reform gained a foothold in Canadian penitentiary administration. Chapter Four introduces the combined with new understandings of the criminal individual.
The second part of the dissertation combines all three thematic approaches. Chapter Five looks at the penitentiary experience to uncover the workings of power and exploitation in prison life. Chapter Six examines penitentiary medicine through the lens of political economy to underscore the influence of labour and its attendant moral ideology upon the lives of sick and disabled prisoners. Chapter Seven further explores the construction of criminality by investigating methods of punishment and isolation. Finally, the conclusion steps back from the two main sections to ask critical questions about how history can make meaningful contributions to our search for answers about the penitentiary.
The abstract doesn't really provide much support for the claim of a "new revisionist direction" on the subject, but chapters 6 and 7 in particular sound novel and intriguing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When is unabashed presentism legal history?

I guess when it's tagged as such when uploaded to SSRN and included in the Legal History e-Journal, like this:

"Consultation Paper on Accounting and Contribution between Co-Owners of Land"
Ownership of land is associated with many expenses: property taxes, utility charges, mortgage pages, and insurance premiums to name a few. It can also yield economic returns such as rental income and profits from growing crops. When land is held in co-ownership (joint tenancy or tenancy in common), expenses may not always be borne and economic benefits may not be received in proportion to the co-owners’ interests, or in another manner that is equitable in the particular circumstances. The body of law that governs rights with respect to accounting and contribution between co-owners is surprisingly unclear and archaic. It is also deficient in a number of ways.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Commutation of Prison Sentences

Via H-Canada today, a query from Veronica Strong-Boag (veronica.strong-boag@UBC.CA)
I've discovered a reference in La Minerve to Lord Aberdeen's commutation of a
14 year prison sentence for Austin Reynolds of Montreal in 1895.  He was
sentenced for murder in 1891.  Does anyone know more of this case?  thanks!

Nikki Strong-Boag

I was talking to a legal  historian about this quite recently--commutation of prison sentences, rather than death sentences. I think it was Lyndsay Campbell. I told her I recalled Carolyn Strange had been researching prison commutations in New York State.

Nikki, Lyndsay and Carolyn--you may want to compare notes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dissertation on Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry

Now available at Proquest Theses & Dissertation, a doctoral dissertation by Kim Stanton of the U of T faculty of law (and the Toronto Group for the Study of International, Transnational and Comparative Law, a great initiative of U of T and Osgoode grad students who understand the importance of historicizing) entitled "Truth commissions and public inquiries: Addressing historical injustices in established democracies." Stanton uses the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry of the 1970s as a case-study.

Here's the abstract:

In recent decades, the truth commission has become a mechanism used by states to address historical injustices. However, truth commissions are rarely used in established democracies, where the commission of inquiry model is favoured. I argue that established democracies may be more amenable to addressing historical injustices that continue to divide their populations if they see the truth commission mechanism not as a unique mechanism particular to the transitional justice setting, but as a specialized form of a familiar mechanism, the commission of inquiry. In this framework, truth commissions are distinguished from other commissions of inquiry by their symbolic acknowledgement of historical injustices, and their explicit "social function" to educate the public about those injustices in order to prevent their recurrence. Given that Canada has established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on the Indian Residential Schools legacy, I consider the TRC's mandate, structure and ability to fulfill its social function, particularly the daunting challenge of engaging the non-indigenous public in its work. I also provide a legal history of a landmark Canadian public inquiry, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, run by Tom Berger. As his Inquiry demonstrated, with visionary leadership and an effective process, a public inquiry can be a pedagogical tool that promotes social accountability for historical injustices. Conceiving of the truth commission as a form of public inquiry provides a way to consider the transitional justice literature on truth commissions internationally along with the experiences of domestic commissions of inquiry to assemble strategies that may assist the current TRC in its journey.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Links to resources for Western Legal History

Things are a bit slow news-wise for Canadian Legal History, as for other types of history, and it's not even the dog-days of summer. Puppy days, I guess.

So a good time to do a post on some links sent me a while ago by Sarah Hamill of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law (thanks again, Sarah!)

Hi Mary,

Here are some links that might be of interest for you in regard to western legal history 

This is a subscription site but perhaps you could mention it to a librarian!
I checked out the sites she suggests. The law section of Our Future Our Past is great--much better than Early Canadiana Online (though kudos to the latter, which has improved of late. Still a ways to go, unfortunately.)

The other sites are not law-focused, but that is just as well for the purposes of students of legal pluralism--since legal pluralists find law everywhere, the more ostensibly non-legal the sources the better. I was quite impressed by the digital images available through the Our Future Our Past site. And the Peel Library site which Sarah recommends is even more drool-worthy, especially for Ontario-ists. The images seem of excellent quality and very searchable, unlike the Globe and Mail Heritage site, for example.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Osgoode Society AGM (with pictures!)


Jonathan Penney and Jim Phillips
Daniel Rueck and Jim Phillips

Doug Harris and Jim Phillips

The AGM of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, held at Osgoode Hall in Toronto Tuesday evening, was as always, an entertaining and convivial experience. Here are some highlights of the event. (Thanks to Trish McMahon for providing some of the pics.)

Jim Phillips (in a tie, no less) handed out prizes on behalf of the society:

Doug Harris of UBC ws awarded the John T. Saywell Prize for Constitutional Legal History (awarded in alternate years) for Landing Native Fisheries: Indian Reserves and Fishing Rights in British Columbia, 1849-1925 (UBC Press, 2008) He spoke about the similarities between his work and that of the late Professor Saywell.

The R.Roy McMurtry Fellowship was awarded to Daniel Rueck, a McGill University Ph.D. candidate who will soon be a visiting scholar at the University of Western Ontario. During the fellowship, Mr. Rueck will continue researching  Mohawk systems of land tenure and land use. He spoke of the funding gap for students completing their studies which the Fellowship attempts to redress.

The Peter Oliver Prize for best published student writing was awarded to Jonathan Penney, a doctoral student at Balliol College, Oxford for his article Ivan Rand’s Ancient Constitutionalism, published in 2010 (University of New Brunswick Law Journal Vol. 61 No. 1). Mr. Rueck spoke about being inspired by researching Rand's jurisprudence.

Justice Robert Sharpe

Mr. Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal then addressed the meeting on the subject of his forthcoming book, The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884. This is the Osgoode Society member's book for the coming year. The book will be an intensive examination of a murder investigation and trial--a "non-leading" case--which speaks to themes of the influence of the community on criminal justice in the nineteenth century, and in turn the impact of the trial and its outcome on the community.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mitchell dissertation on the Persons Case

I was excited to discover that a dissertation on the Persons' Case had been posted on the Proquest Theses & Dissertations database. Wow, thought I, we now have a case with historiography, complete with revisionism! But while we have the former, it sounds as though Kelly L. Mitchell's doctoral dissertation Missing persons: The contested legacy of First Wave Feminism, the Famous Five, and the Persons Case of 1929 does not challenge the Sharpe/MacMahon account, but rather takes the tack of looking at the case as a social-political rather than legal/constitutional phenomenon, and extending the story past the JCPC judgment. Still an exciting contribution to the history of Canadian feminism:

Here's the abstract:
On October 18, 1929, Canadian women were legally recognized as "persons" by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England. This auspicious decision had been the result of a decade-long struggle led by five women from Alberta. Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Emily Murphy, and Irene Parlby, better known simply as the Famous Five, were suffragists, authors, and political activists in the First Wave of the Women's Movement in Canada. This dissertation examines the story of the Famous Five and the Persons Case and charts the process by which women's struggle for personhood has been recognized as a defining moment in the history of Canadian women.
By making use of sources in both feminist and legal history as well as discussing the case's legal precursors and legacy, this study broadens the context in which the Persons Case has traditionally been examined. Unlike other works which situate the case in Canadian constitutional history, this dissertation portrays the Persons Case as a pivotal part of women's struggle for equality. By pointing to the ways that women's organizations have been using the stories of the Famous Five to inspire women and call attention to ongoing feminist concerns since the 1930s, this dissertation explains why the struggle for personhood, unlike other initiatives in the Women's Movement, continues to resonate so strongly with Canadian women.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Osgoode Society award winners announced

From the news release today:

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History is honouring three academics at a special ceremony on June 21, in recognition of the recent contributions they have made to furthering Canadians' understanding of the country's legal history.

At the Osgoode Society’s annual meeting, the following three awards will be presented: the R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Legal History, the Peter Oliver Prize in Canadian Legal History and the John T. Saywell Prize for Canadian Constitutional Legal History.

The 2011 winner of the R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Legal History is Daniel Rueck, a McGill University Ph.D. candidate who will soon be a visiting scholar at the University of Western Ontario. During the fellowship, Mr. Rueck will continue researching Mohawk systems of land tenure and land use in Kahnawake during the nineteenth century. Mr. Rueck’s research project is of both great historical and contemporary interest, given current debates surrounding the privatization of Aboriginal land.

The 2011 winner of the Peter Oliver Prize in Canadian Legal History is Jonathon Penney, a doctoral student at Balliol College, Oxford. Mr. Penney is recognized for his article Ivan Rand’s Ancient Constitutionalism, published in 2010 (University of New Brunswick Law Journal Vol. 61 No. 1). The article provides considerable context and insight about Justice Ivan Rand’s groundbreaking civil rights decisions of the 1950s.

The 2011 winner of the John T. Saywell Prize for Canadian Constitutional Legal History is Douglas Harris of the University of British Columbia. Professor Harris is recognized for his book, Landing Native Fisheries: Indian Reserves and Fishing Rights in British Columbia, 1849-1925, published by the University of British Columbia Press. Professor Harris’ writing draws on an impressive range of sources to demonstrate the unique and crucial relationship between reserves and fishing rights in British Columbia. Through his book, Professor Harris furthers understanding around Aboriginal rights, federalism and the intra-agency conflicts that exist between federal government officials concerned with Indian affairs and those concerned with fisheries.

The annual meeting will also feature a talk by The Honourable Robert Sharpe on his forthcoming book to be published by the Osgoode Society The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884.
For more information, please contact: Marilyn MacFarlane, Administrator, The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History at (416) 947- 3321 or

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mackenzie on the History of Indian Act in Newfoundland

 David Mackenzie of the Department of History, Ryerson University has published "The Indian Act and the Aboriginal Peoples of Newfoundland at the Time of Confederation," in Newfoundland & Labrador Studies Fall 2010, Vol. 25 Issue 2.
The Abstract:

The article presents an in-depth examination into the legal history and status of North American Indian tribes in Newfoundland. Contextual details are given describing the legal actions of the Mi'kmaq Nation in 1989 to gain recognition. Discussion is then offered evaluating why the tribe was not formally recognized at the province's entrance to the Confederation in 1948. Additional analysis is offered examining the status and legal provisions of Native Americans based in the 1867 Constitution. Conclusions are provided explaining why Indian's rights were not more prominent in the province's constitutional history.

Reid on the Doctrine of Discovery (not the procedure)


Also in the Canadian Journal of Native Studies; 2010, Vol. 30 Issue 2 ,"The Doctrine of Discovery in Canadian Law" by Jennifer Reid:

This article will focus on a set of fifteenth-century assumptions regarding sovereignty known as the Doctrine of Discovery. The doctrine was the "legal" means by which Europeans claimed preemptive rights in the New World, and it underlies the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to this day. This article will explore the Doctrine's development from its inception to its integration into Canadian law. By demonstrating continuity between fifteenth century papal bulls, the Royal Proclamation, the Constitution Act, 1982, and Supreme Court holdings, I will argue that Aboriginal title in Canada was—and continues to be—entrenched in the Doctrine of Discovery.

Luby on Crown and Anishinaabe Understandings of Treaty 3

"The Department is going back on these Promises: An examination of Anishinaabe and Crown Understandings of Treaty" by Brittany Luby (another former classmate of mine) in Canadian Journal of Native Studies (2010) Vol. 30 Issue 2 (no on-line link available.) Here's the abstract:

Indigenous interpretations of treaty are often gleaned from Euro-Canadian documents like Crown publications and correspondence. In her analysis of Treaty #3, Brittany Luby challenges the assumption that Anishinaabe sources are strictly oral and that engaging Anishinaabe perspectives requires an ethnographic (re) reading of Euro-Canadian documents. Using Anishinaabe written sources like Paypom Treaty and petitions to the Crown, Luby examines the Anishinaabe as legal agents and active writers. She highlights that Anishinaabe negotiators-much like Euro-Canadian Commissioners-participated in Treaty #3 to maintain fisheries, protect mineral deposits, and guarantee territorial sovereignty. By explicating treaty participants' conflicting understandings of "rights" and "use," Luby demonstrates that no single document accurately outlines the terms and conditions of Treaty #3.

Friday, June 10, 2011

CFP: White Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in the Canadian Context

The Canadian Journal of Women and Law (CJWL) is seeking submissions for a special issue 25(1) to be published in Spring 2013 in honour of Patricia Monture, to be guest edited by Sherene Razack. The CFP doesn't mention history specifically, but it seems like an included concept.

White Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in the Canadian Context
Some time ago Patricia Monture told us that in her thinking equality was not a high enough goal. A feminism that failed to recognize the destructiveness of settler colonialism and to work towards Indigenous sovereignty and well-being was too small a feminism for Patricia. This issue of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law is dedicated to Patricia Monture, a courageous scholar who led the way for so many of us over the last two decades. To honour her, we invite contributions on white settler colonialism. This issue seeks to profile the work of Indigenous scholars and scholars of colour. In keeping with Patricia Monture’s own contributions, we are especially interested in receiving articles that offer a feminist, anti-racist reading of Canadian settler colonialism in the areas of criminal justice, Aboriginal youth, education, and economic empowerment.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Marquis review of Leyton-Brown

The Legal History Blog has a post today by Karen Tami on Greg Marquis' review of The Practice of Execution by Ken Leyton-Brown in Law & Politics Book Reviews.. You can read the post here. But the link in the post to the full review is broken, so I am re-linking to it here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Congratulations (again) to Brad Miller

More prize news from Congress: At the Canadian Historical Association conference, the Political History Group gave its inaugural award for best article to Brad Miller for "A carnival of crime on our border?: International Law, Imperial Power, and Extradition in Canada, 1865-1883," which was published in the Canadian Historical Review vol. 90 no. 4 (December 2009).  Brad won the Peter Oliver prize for best article by a student for this article in 2010.

More info on the political history group prizes here.

In related news, Michel Ducharme of UBC won the Sir John A. Macdonald prize for best academic writing in Canadian History for his book Le concept de liberté au Canada a l’époque des Révolutions atlantiques (1776-1838). Ducharme's differentiation of attitudes toward individual and political rights by American revolutionaries and Canadian loyalists will inform Canadian legal as well as general historiography.

Promotion for Wes Pue

Eminent Canadian Legal HistorianWes Pue has been appointed Provost of UBC Okanagan.

Stern on the Analytical Turn in c19th Legal Thought

Simon Stern of the U of T Faculty of Law continues his breakneck pace of published research with The Analytical Turn in Nineteenth-Century Legal Thought, just posted on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

This essay seeks to account for the introduction of the analytical method into Anglo-American legal thinking in the 19th century and to identify some of the doctrinal consequences of this mode of problem-solving. I focus on a particular sense of analysis – the disaggregation into components of seemingly unified entities, not previously seen as composites. On this view, a discussion of U.S. law as involving federal law and state law does not involve analysis, but a discussion of privacy as including decisional and spatial aspects would involve analysis. The term "analysis" long predates the nineteenth century, but had previously been used by lawyers to mean "investigation" or "classification" rather than disaggregation. Drawing on research by John Pickstone, I show that the technique, though not unheard of before the 19th century, was taken up in a wide array of scientific disciplines circa 1780-1840, particularly in chemistry. This helps to explain its diffusion into other intellectual spheres, including law.
The nineteenth-century analytical revolution had a profound effect on the Anglo-American legal system, its doctrines, and its approach to problem-solving, to such an extent that modern lawyers’ views about their professional competences, and their beliefs about what constitutes a persuasive legal argument, would be radically different without this feature. The analytical approach is evident in contemporary thinking about statutory drafting and interpretation, constitutional law, and administrative law, as well as the common law. Because it is beyond the scope of a single essay to delineate these effects fully, I focus here on the changes associated with the introduction of elements into nineteenth-century jurisprudence, in a pattern that reveals some of the most visible results of the analytical approach.
Part I discusses the rise of analysis in science and the law around the beginning of the nineteenth century. Part II shows how issue preclusion (in res judicata) was reconceived in the course of the nineteenth century, morphing from a doctrine focused on the relitigation of particular facts, to a doctrine concerned with legal issues, now understood as involving legal conclusions based on facts. Part III addresses the reconceptualization of criminal offenses as consisting of "elements," a development that led to new ways of thinking about burdens of proof and the role of mens rea in criminal liability. A concluding section reflects briefly on the implications of this approach to legal science. The argument shows that legal science may be profitably studied not only by looking at the statements of lawyers such as David Hoffman, Simon Greenleaf, and George Sharswood, who took pains to insist that they were being scientific, but also by looking to particular instances in which lawyers adopt scientific methods, even if they do not call attention to this practice, and even if they make no claims about legal science

Legal History at Political History Conference

Thanks to Brad Miller for drawing my attention to the many legal history and legal histor-ish (his term, a good one) papers in the programme of the Political History Conference "Transformation: State, Nation, and Citizenship/Transformation: l’État, la nation et la citoyenneté" to be held October 13-15 at York University.

It's often hard to distinguish what is legal history from what is not in the political history context, but among the papers which would be of particular interest to legal historians are (in no particular order):

Blake Brown, Saint Mary’s University – “We are gradually getting like Chicago”: Gun Control in Interwar Canada
J.L. McNairn, Queen’s University - Roads to Modernity: Trust and Financing the Public Good in Upper Canada
E.A. Heaman, McGill University - Revisiting the Single Tax
S.M. Tillotson, Dalhousie University - Tax Politics and Public Opinion in the Age of Easy Money, 1947-1966
Todd Stubbs, Lakehead University, Orillia - A “Stake in the Country”: Wage-Earning Men and the Income Franchise Debate in Ontario, 1866-1874
Bradley Miller, University of Toronto - Sovereignty, Self-Defence, and International Law in the Rebellion Period Borderlands, 1837-1843
Ashleigh Androsoff, University of Toronto - “The Days of Fooling Around with the Unlawful Doukhobors Are Over”: Solving British Columbia’s ‘Doukhobor Problem’ in the 1950s and 1960s
Gregory P. Marchildon, University of Regina and Nicole O’Byrne, University of New Brunswick - The Last One Aboard: New Brunswick and the Implementation of Medicare
Mark Gulla, McMaster University - The Unemployment Insurance Commission and the Expansion of the Right to Benefit, 1940-1971
John Hillhouse, McMaster University - The Role of the Federal Government in Canada’s Life Insurance Industry
Anthony Hampton, University of Guelph - The Implications of Ad Hoc Activism: The Feminist Citizens' Response to the Meech Lake Accord and its Historiographic Importance

Valerie Lapointe Gagnon, Université Laval  - La consécration de l’expertise et la Commission royale d’enquête sur le bilinguisme et le biculturalisme, 1963-1971
P. E. Bryden, University of Victoria - Intimacy and the Administrative Body: The Federal Civil Service in the Pearson Era
Also of interest to legal historians (and crimnologists):

Round Table/ Table ronde RCMP: What we know, what we don’t know and what we would like to know/ La GRC: ce que nous savons, ce que nous ne savons pas et ce que nous aimerions savoir
Participants/ Participants et participantes
Steve Hewitt, American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham
Gary Kinsman, department of sociology, Laurentian University
Christabelle Sethna, Institute of Women’s Studies, University of Ottawa

Monday, June 6, 2011

Freedom's Conditions in the Borderlands

One of the highlights of the CLSA conference last week in Frederiction for me was hearing and chatting with University of Calgary legal historian Lyndsay Campbell

Lyndsay's paper on Oliver Dawsey, member of a gang of thugs who operated in the Hamilton-Dundas area in Canada West (yes, contrary to previous claims we had criminal gangs pre-confederation), was fascinating, (as were the other papers on her panel, the other legal history panel and random history papers on non-history panels.) I can't wait to hear more about this guy and his partners in crime.

Talking with her, I was surprised to hear that the collection of essays on the US-Canada border and borderlands she was editing with Tony Freyer had been published without setting off any of the alerts I have set up so that new Canadian legal history does not escape my notice. I guess the cyber-gremlins have not categorized this as Canadian, and (so far) the bloggers at the American Legal History Blog have not noticed it either. Maybe their cyber-gremlins are also confused.

The collection is called Freedom's Conditions in the U. S.- Canadian Borderlands in the Age of Emancipation  and is published by the the Carolina Academic Press. Here's how the publishers describe it.

In Freedom's Conditions in the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands in the Age of Emancipation, American and Canadian legal historians explore the operation of race in the borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. The contributors Tony Freyer, Lyndsay Campbell, Aviam Soifer, Gautham Rao, John Wertheimer, Stephen Middleton, and Bradley Miller examine the shadows that legal regimes cast upon each other, as people of African descent, and others, made decisions to move from one place to another in search of better, freer conditions under which to live, work, and raise their families. Legal institutions struggled with commitments to preserving states' rights to govern their own people, to popular sovereignty, to freedom of contract, to liberal ideals of equality and comity, and of course to white supremacy. Tensions ran high among different levels of government - federal-state-local in the United States and imperial-colonial-local in British North America. On the ground, practices of governance, such as policing and slave-catching, were unevenly professionalized: on both sides of the international border, low-level officials without much legal training and vested with considerable discretion were essential state actors. This collection is aimed at both American and Canadian readers interested in the histories of race, inter-state relations, and the development of legal institutions. The introduction and conclusion, by Freyer and Campbell, frame the essays and identify unifying themes and overlapping conclusions. As a whole, the essays in this collection make clear the hope that Canadian legal institutions offered to African Americans: formal equality, though in practice discrimination took place in the implementation of law, through racializing habits that affected exercises of discretion by various state officials. In the United States, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, combined with the influx of Irish immigrants in the late 1840s, provoked sharp, tense conflicts over the racialized governance of human mobility in the northern states, conflicts that, ironically, carved out a space for greater rights and autonomy for African Americans even as the fault lines in American federalism deepened. These essays also cast light on the fundamental instabilities in a legal system that accommodated slavery and explicitly entrenched white supremacy.
As well as collaborating on the Introduction and Conclusion, Lyndsay has contributed two chapters to the collection: "Governance in the Borderlands: Upper Canadian Legal Institutions" and "The Northern Borderlands: Canada West." Brad Miller's chapter is entitled "British Rights and Liberal Law in Canada's Fugitive Slave Debate, 1833-1843."

Full disclosure: Lyndsay offered to send me a comp copy, which offer I enthusiastically accepted. Presumably this was on account of my allowing her to use a couple of my yet-unpublished papers on local government in Canada West, and not because I said I planned to blog about the book.