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Monday, May 30, 2011

Legal Historians win prizes at CLSA conference

The Canadian Law and Society Association announced its annual publishing prizes in Fredericton today.

Lori Chambers of  the Departments of Women's Studies and History at Lakehead University won the prize for best article in English published in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society in the past year for “Women’s Work, Relationship Breakdown and the Division of Farm Property.”

Ken Leyton-Brown of the Department History, University of Regina won the runner-up prize for best socio-legal book for The Practice of Execution in Canada, published by the UBC press.

Congratulations Lori and Ken! Keep making us look good.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Canadian Legal History in Google Books

Recently I have been getting alerts for Osgoode Society books added to Google Books. I have found Google books to be an invaluable resource in my research on nineteenth century municipal law, allowing me to find electronic copies of municipal manuals copied from the Stanford University library, for example. But I hadn't used it to check out more modern stuff, so I decided to give it a try today.

My first surprise: I typed in Canadian Legal History and got back "about 215,000" results. Most of these, are books that include the search phrase or parts thereof, including those which include citations to Osgoode Society books. Nice to know there are so many, of course.

Second surprise: as well as all the expected Osgoode Society and Law and Society titles, there were cases and materials type books going back to the 1970s. Now these aren't all searchable, sorry to say, even for their tables of contents, and in fact many of the more recent ones, including the Risk festschrift for instance, aren't searchable either.  But the ones that are could be very useful, I think.

For example, I searched in James Walker's "'Race,' Rights and the Law" for 'Backhouse,' and got nine hits. You could look in the index to the book (if you own it, as you should) but you wouldn't find any entry for Constance or her work. (No offense to the publisher, indices have to be selective, especially about footnotes.) But still, how wonderful to be able to think--hmm, I seem to remember a footnote in Walker about Backhouse that might be helpful, now I know I can find it. And without the hassle and time involved of finding the damn thing on my bookshelf (my partner seemed to think it was helpful to remove the dust jackets on at least half my books, and no, they aren't organized beyond this is a Canadian Legal History section,) and scouring the footnotes.

Third surprise: the "G." in "G. Blaine Baker" stands for George. And all these years I thought it was Gordon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Milligan on the Spadina Expressway Challenge before the OMB

My former classmate from Paul Craven's graduate history class, 'Low Law and Petty Justice' at York University, Ian Milligan, has just published a paper he started in that class, "'This Board Has a Duty to Intervene': Challenging the Spadina Expressway through the Ontario Municipal Board, 1963-1971." The piece appears in the Spring 2011 issue of the Urban History Review.

Ian, who was the 2011-2012 Avie Bennett Historica Dominion Institute Scholarship winner and is one of the bloggers at Active History, is also on the list of the Toronto Legal History Group, and has attended a time or two, but didn't present this paper there, I'm sorry to say. It would have been a good fit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chilton on Managing Migrants

Another article, again not specifically legal history, but which speaks to important issues in the history of regulation is Lisa Chilton's "Managing Migrants: Toronto, 1820–1880," which appears in the June 2011 issue of the Canadian Historical Review. (Online, but not free, sadly--fortunately most readers of this blog will have access through their institutional affiliations.) Her discussion of the pluralistic, inter-jurisdictional aspects of the regulation of immigrants promises to be particularly interesting.

Here's the relevant (for legal history) part of the abstract:
This article uses Toronto as a case study to trace the evolution of the state's interaction with migrants from a different starting point. It emphasizes the importance of the 1820–80 period – a period in which major state initiatives were put in place to regulate the flow of immigration more effectively. It underlines the fact that the state consisted of multiple, frequently competing layers of authority and power during the period of transition from colonies to nation. Finally, the study of Toronto highlights that the intersections of different state levels (municipal, provincial, imperial, federal) did not constitute an especially monolithic state regulatory response during this period, but rather more of a labyrinth whose changing features could radically affect the individual experiences of migrants during these years.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Goldberg on teacher misconduct hearings in 19th century Ontario

Fans of the (indirect) history of administrative law in the context of the education system (I know you're out there) will be interested in an article by Jennifer Anne Goldberg, “I thought the people wanted to get rid of the teacher:” Educational Authority in Late-Nineteenth Century Ontario," which appears in the spring 2011 issue of Historical Studies in Education. Law and process are not the primary focus of the article, but you can read between the lines.(It's free and online--once again thank whatever deities there be for open access journals and the Public Knowledge Project!)

Here's the abstract:

By the late-nineteenth century, Ontario’s educational state was firmly established. However, the rise of provincial bureaucracy did not preclude the continuing influence of community authorities and expectations. This complex relationship between central and local spheres of power is a difficult one to assess, particularly because school board-level records are perfunctory in their coverage of such issues. However, during the 1870s and 1880s, the secretary of the Lambton Board of Education was unusually fastidious, and so this cache of records offers a view of school management rare in its detail and nuance. This paper will use Lambton County as a case study to illuminate local-provincial educational power relations. Specifically, it will examine the contested space of teacher authority, through close study of the four cases of teacher misconduct brought before the board in the late 1800s.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ray on Native History in Court

The new McGill-Queen's University Press catalogue (for Fall 2011) is out. Not much legal history this time (and they don't have a category for legal history per se in their website index, which is a fail.)  But this, classified under History, looks great.

Telling It to the Judge

Taking Native History to Court

Arthur J. Ray
Ray, Professor Emeritus at UBC (where the history department website is currently wonky) draws on his own extensive experience as an expert witness to provide what sounds like a fascinating and illuminating view of the intersection of history, aboriginal rights and the litigation process. This will be a great teaching tool for law, law-and-society and Indigenous studies courses.
From the publishers' blurb:
In 1973, the Supreme Court's historic Calder decision on the Nisga'a community's title suit in British Columbia launched the Native rights litigation era in Canada. Legal claims have raised questions with significant historical implications, such as, "What treaty rights have survived in various parts of Canada? What is the scope of Aboriginal title? Who are the Métis, where do they live, and what is the nature of their culture and their rights?"

Arthur Ray's extensive knowledge in the history of the fur trade and Native economic history brought him into the courts as an expert witness in the mid-1980s. For over twenty-five years he has been a part of landmark litigation concerning treaty rights, Aboriginal title, and Métis rights. In Telling It to the Judge, Ray recalls lengthy courtroom battles over lines of evidence, historical interpretation, and philosophies of history, reflecting on the problems inherent in teaching history in the adversarial courtroom setting.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Legal History at the CHA at Congress

Not a lot of legal history at the CHA conference this year--of 81 panels, one is devoted to regulation in Canada and one to British eighteenth century law. A few law themed papers scattered through out, and a roundtable on John Weaver's award winning The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World, which those who have read it will know focuses a great deal on comparative property law.

I would be disappointed by the lack of legal history if I were going to the CHA this year. I am a member, but the conference dates overlap with the CLSA, which has first claim on my attendance this year. In past years I have tried to juggle both conferences, but ended up remembering very little of what I'd heard.

The panel on eighteenth century English law (no. 64) does look fascinating, though. It includes James Moran of the University of PEI, "Bordering on Madness: Law, Lunacy Commissions and Indefinite Mental States," Jennine Hurl-Eamon of Trent, "Did Unwed Mothers Really Charge Innocent Men with Fathering their Babies? A Closer Look at Malicious Prosecution in London Bastardy Cases" and Susan Brown of  UPEI, "Actor's Equity: Theatrical Working Conditions as Revealed in Eighteenth Century Chancery Suits."

For the rest of the programme, look here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cavanagh on Sovereignty and the HBC

The new issue of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society includes an interesting article by Edward Cavanagh of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, on the constitutional apects of the Hudsons' Bay Company in the 17th and 18th century.  Cavanagh (not to be confused with Edward D. Cavanagh of St. John's University  in New York), is a research postgraduate affiliated with the University of the Witwatersrand’s History Project. He studied history at the Australian National University and the University of Alberta, and is a member of editorial board of the brand new journal, Settler Colonial Studies. In  this article "A Company with Sovereignty and Subjects of Its Own? The Case of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1670–1763," Cavanagh makes use of the state-like aspects of the HBC to reflect on the legal theory of sovereignty. If you think it sounds familiar, that may be because it was also recently posted on SSRN. But everyone should subsribe to the CJLS. Just saying.

Here's the abstract:

Questions about the ways in which colonial subjects were acquired and maintained, and how it was that multiple and often contradictory sovereignties came to overlap in history, may not be purely academic. We raise them today because they spring from issues that remain unresolved, concerning rights to land, resources, and selfdetermination. Following recent scholarship on the English East India Company, the author redefines the Hudson's Bay Company, during the period before widespread settler colonialism, as a state (or "company-state"), and in this way argues that the HBC-state possessed its own kind of sovereignty. The article make three main arguments: that it was up to the HBC, not the Crown, to found Rupert's Land, defend its establishments, make alliances with locals, and challenge intruders; that HBC rule extended to cover not only the company's employees but, eventually, an indigenous "home guard" population; and that the HBC welfare regime transformed the relationship between ruler and ruled.

Nous nous intéressons aux façons dont les colonies furent acquises et maintenues en sujétion ainsi qu'aux raisons pour lesquelles des souverainetés souvent contradictoires se sont chevauchées au fil du temps. Nous soulevons ces questions, à présent, puisqu'elles abordent des problèmes concrets et irrésolus, à savoir les droits territoriaux, les ressources ainsi que l'autodétermination. Suivant les écrits récents sur la Compagnie anglaise des Indes orientales, je redéfinirai la Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson (CBH), à l'époque qui précède l'établissement répandu de colonies, comme un état (ou Compagnie-état), c'est-à-dire un régime qui possédait une souveraineté particulière. J'avancerai trois points : 1) que c'était à l'état de la Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson, plutôt qu'à la couronne, d'établir la Terre de Rupert, de défendre ses établissements, de s'allier avec les locaux et de se défendre contre les intrus ; 2) que les lois de la Compagnie s'appliquaient non seulement aux employésde la CBH mais aussi, éventuellement, à la population autochtone ; et 3) que le régime de bien-être social de la CBH a eu pour conséquence de transformer la relation entre maître et sujets.