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Monday, June 22, 2020

McMurtry Fellowship and two honourable mentions announced. Congratulations to all three winners!

Congratulations to Jean-Christophe Bédard-Rubin, Michael Borsk and Krista Barclay!

The Hon. R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Canadian Legal History. The McMurtry Fellowship honors Roy McMurtry’s contributions to Canadian Legal History as the founder and long-time President of the Osgoode Society. It supports a graduate or post-doctoral student working in the field of Canadian legal history.

The fellowship is usually $16,000, which comes mostly from the interest on the endowment supplemented when necessary by our own funds. This year we have a number of budgeted items that we cannot or will not spend the money on – the Annual Meeting, Amanda Campbell’s trips to (now cancelled) judges’ conferences, in person legal history talks (announcement about those coming in a newsletter this week) and others. We decided, given the substantial number of excellent applications, to award a $16,000 fellowship to our first choice and two "honourable mentions" fellowships of $7,000 each.

The principal winner is Jean-Christophe Bédard-Rubin, a doctoral student in the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, who is writing an intellectual history of Ētienne Parent, a leading Quebec constitutional thinker in the immediate pre- and post-Confederation period.

Also McMurtry Fellows, as honourable mentions, are Michael Borsk and Krista Barclay.  Michael Borsk is a Ph.D. student in history at Queen’s University. He is researching the history of ideas about private property and sovereignty in Ontario and Michigan in the first half of the nineteenth century. Krista Barclay received her PhD from the University of Manitoba and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She is working on inheritance law in nineteenth-century British North America.

Note: The Saywell Prize will be announced later in the summer.

Jacqueline Briggs is the winner of the Peter Oliver Prize

Congratulations, Jackie!

Peter Oliver Prize. The Peter Oliver Prize is given for published work in Canadian legal history by a student. The 2020 winner is Jacqueline Briggs, a Ph.D. student in the Centre for Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies, University of Toronto, for her article ‘Exemplary Punishment: T.R.L. MacInnes, the Department of Indian Affairs, and Indigenous Executions, 1936-1952, published in the Canadian Historical Review. The article is a fascinating account of a legal aid programme for capitally-charged Indigenous defendants, the first publicly-funded legal aid programme in Canada.

We hope to hear from Jackie on this fascinating subject this year at an Osgoode Society Canadian Legal History talk, or through our newsletter. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 12, 2020

New open access from the University of Calgary Press: Campbell, McCoy, and Méthot, eds., Canada’s Legal Pasts: Looking Forward, Looking Back

h/t Philip Girard
Posted: 11 Jun 2020 02:00 AM PDT

The University of Calgary Press is publishing a new, open-access book on Canadian legal history.


Canada’s Legal Pasts presents new essays on a range of topics and episodes in Canadian legal history, provides an introduction to legal methodologies, shows researchers new to the field how to locate and use a variety of sources, and includes a combined bibliography arranged to demonstrate best practices in gathering and listing primary sources. It is an essential welcome for scholars who wish to learn about Canada’s legal pasts—and why we study them.

Telling new stories—about a fishing vessel that became the subject of an extraordinarily long diplomatic dispute, young Northwest Mounted Police constables subject to an odd mixture of police discipline and criminal procedure, and more—this book presents the vibrant evolution of Canada’s legal tradition. Explorations of primary sources, including provincial archival records that suggest how Quebec courts have been used in interfamilial conflict, newspaper records that disclose the details of bigamy cases, and penitentiary records that reveal the details of the lives and legal entanglements of Canada’s most marginalized people, show the many different ways of researching and understanding legal history.

This is Canadian legal history as you’ve never seen it before. Canada’s Legal Pasts dives into new topics in Canada’s fascinating history and presents practical approaches to legal scholarship, bringing together established and emerging scholars in collection essential for researchers at all levels.


Lyndsay Cambell is an associate professor at the University of Calgary, cross-appointed between the Faculty of Law and the Department of History. She is the co-editor of Freedom’s Conditions in the U.S.-Canada Borderlands in the Age of Emancipation.

Ted McCoy is an assistant professor in Sociology at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Hard Time: Reforming the Penitentiary in Nineteenth-Century Canada and Four Unruly Women: Stories of Incarceration and Resistance from Canada’s Most Notorious Prison.

Mélanie Méthot is an associate professor of History at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus and the recipient of a SSHRC Grant for her research on bigamy in Canada. She is the founder of the Augustana Conference on Undergraduate Research and Innovative Teaching.

With Contributions By: Nick Austin, Dominique Clément, Angela Fernandez, Jean-Philippe Garneau, Shelly A.M. Gavigan, Alexandra Havrylyshyn, Louis A. Knafla, Catherine McMillan, Eric A. Reiter, and Christopher Shorey


Foreword: A Student’s Take on Canada’s Legal Pasts
Nick Austin
Introduction: Canada’s Legal Pasts: Looking Forward, Looking Back
Ted McCoy, Lyndsay Campbell, Mélanie Méthot
Part I: Illuminating Cases
Family Defamation in Quebec: The View from the Archives
Eric H. Reiter
Writing Penitentiary History
Ted McCoy
Analyzing Bigamy Cases without Archival Records: It Is Possible
Mélanie Méthot
Trial Pamphlets and Newspaper Accounts
Lyndsay Campbell
The Last Voyage of the Frederick Gerring, Jr
Christopher Shorey
The Textbook Edition of Kent’s Commentaries Used in the Gerring
Angela Fernandez
Part II: Exploring Systems
Empire’s Law: Archives and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
Catharine MacMillan
Practising Law in the “Lawyerless” Colony of New France
Alexandra Havrylyshyn
Poursuivre son mari en justice au Bas-Canada: femmes mariées et coutume de Paris devant la cour du Banc du roi (1795-1830)
Jean-Philippe Garneau
Getting Their Man: The NWMP as Accused in the Territorial Criminal Court in the Canadian North-West, 1876-1905
Shelley A.M. Gavigan
Part III: Writing Legal History: Past, Present and Future
Sex Discrimination in Law: From Equal Citizenship to Human Rights Law
Dominique Clément
Legal-Historical Writing for the Canadian Prairies: Past, Present, Future
Louis A. Knafla
Primary source bibliography
Secondary source bibliography

More info here

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Canadian Legal History gets press (with a plug for the Osgoode Society!)

An interview of legal historian (and regular historian!) Christopher Moore by Justice Tom Carey.

Thanks to Chris for sending and Tom Carey for giving permission for me to publish this. This interview appeared in the Association News of the Association of Superior Court Judges.  

Q&A with Legal Historian Christopher Moore

Since his first book Louisbourg Portraits won the Governor-General’s Literary Award in the early 1980s, Christopher Moore has been writing widely about Canadian history, from 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal to the bestselling children's history, The Story of Canada. But he is a legal historian too, with four big books about law and lawyers so far. Recently we talked about history and lawyers. I have known Chris Moore for over a quarter of a century. When we met at the Law Society we discovered we were neighbours. As well, Chris
often did research on his Law Society history at the Great Library and then Chief Glen Howell lived roughly half way between us. Chris and I also collaborated as members of the West Toronto Junction Historical Society. When we connected by phone recently it was our first chat since the Osgoode Society launch of his book The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal, 1792 -2013, in November 2014.
Tom Carey: About 25 years ago, I was a bencher at the Law Society, and you came in to write a history of the Law Society. How did that come about?
Christopher Moore: The Law Society's two hundredth birthday in 1997 was coming up
fast, and it wanted a history to mark the occasion. I heard later that some of the best legal history scholars told them it would take a team of ten researchers about ten years to complete it. I was a little more flexible on the deadlines and the budget! And they took a chance on me.
TC: Have you always written about lawyers and the law?
CM: Until then, never. When the Law Society suggested I come in to talk to them, I said, sure, where is your office? There was a bit of a pause before they said, “We are at Osgoode Hall.” I thought I'd killed my chances for sure. But I had written a few books that had been well regarded as history and that people found readable too. I think that after talking to the academics, the Law Society hoped that when they commissioned the book, they'd get one that at least some lawyers might read.
TC: Are lawyers and judges interesting for a historian to write about?
CM: Absolutely. Lawyers get into a little bit of everything: crime, politics, business, property, social issues, family matters. So writing about two hundred years of lawyers and the law society was like following the whole history of Ontario, but focussed and manageable. And with colourful, quotable men and women, and lots of issues and stories. I've been keeping up with legal history ever since.
TC: Since the Law Society history, you have written a history of the BC Court of Appeal and one of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. What about the trial courts, like ours? Isn’t that where the real work of
courts goes on?
CM: I agree with you. Appeal courts determine the law in big cases, and that's important and interesting. But trial courts are where you see the human drama of the people and the law. That's why all the TV legal dramas are about the trial courts, I guess. There is lots of history still to be explored in the trial courts. But when provincial chief justices invite you to look into the history of "their" court, it's hard to say no.
TC: Is there any reason why rigorous, well researched historical works need be hard slogging?
CM: Maybe historians and lawyers are alike in this. Lawyers and judges sometimes talk in a shorthand of legal terms and case citations — and that works well enough when lawyers are talking to each other. Historical scholars use jargon too. And that can be useful and effective when specialists write for each other. I know there are judges who write clear, vigorous, well-organized decisions so even I can grasp the issues at stake. And since I'm a freelance writer, most of my readers are not historical specialists. They may be interested but they should not have to be experts to begin with. After the Law Society history came out, a lawyer told me he bought a copy to decorate the office bookshelf — kind of a bicentennial duty. And then he read it cover to cover. A writer can’t get a nicer reaction than that.
TC: From time to time we hear Canadians in general and the young in particular don’t know or care about their history anymore. In your experience, is
that the case?
CM: I don’t see it. Like I said, I’ve been a freelance writer about Canadian history for decades. If Canadians didn't care, I would have been in some other line of work a long time ago. I might have had to go to law school! Sure, we are a small country and most of our books and news and TV and movies comes from beyond our borders. It's tough. But everywhere I go, I find lots of Canadians who do take an interest, and more. Canada may be stronger than we think. Look at the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. With all the books it produces and all its oral history of lawyers, the Osgoode Society prospers because lots of working lawyers and judges support legal history. I hope all your judges are members.
Look into Christopher Moore’s
for more on his legal histories.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Wounded Feelings by Eric Reiter wins best scholarly book award from CHA!

We are thrilled that one of the Society's publications for 2019 has just won the prize for best scholarly book of the year from the Canadian Historical Association! We congratulate Eric Reiter of Concordia University on a well deserved accomplishment. Not only is Wounded Feelings a scholarly tour-de-force, delving into the hitherto relatively untouched (in English!) depths of the history of private law in Quebec, but the book is a great read. Lots of moving stories, and lots to think about!

Wounded Feelings analyses the law and litigation involving defamation, breach of promise of marriage, personality rights, and religious beliefs. These were all areas of ‘emotion’ in which Quebecers – lawyers and judges as well as litigants – dealt with the intersection between the subjective world of the emotions and the world of the law, through the idea of moral injury. The author The author uses published law reports and existing archival records of some of those cases, as well as a wide range of other sources, to offer fascinating vignettes that reveal much about day to day life, functional and dysfunctional families, and the dynamics of social and power relations of class, status, age, race and gender across an eighty year period of Quebec history. The discussion of the cases enables the author to demonstrate the complicated blending of the French civil law and the English common law as well as to chart major legal shifts over time. 

If you don't already have the book, head over to the Osgoode Society to buy it while we still have copies available.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

New from UBC Press, Carter, Ours by Every Law of Right and Justice

Available for pre-order at UBC press 

Ours by Every Law of Right and Justice

Women and the Vote in the Prairie Provinces

Many of Canada’s most famous suffragists – from Nellie McClung and Cora Hind to Emily Murphy and Henrietta Muir Edwards – lived and campaigned in the Prairie provinces, the region that led the way in granting women the right to vote and hold office. Manitoba enfranchised women in January 1916, and Saskatchewan and Alberta quickly followed in March and April.
In Ours by Every Right and Justice, award-winning author Sarah Carter challenges the myth that grateful male legislators simply handed western women the vote in recognition that they were equal partners in the pioneering process. Suffragists worked long and hard to overcome obstacles, persuade doubters, and build allies.
But their work also had a dark side. Carter situates the suffragists’ struggle in the colonial history of the region, a period when Indigenous people were being cleared from the Plains and marginalized on reserves to make way for permanent settlers. Even as they pressured legislatures to grant their sisters the vote, settler suffragists often accepted and approved of that same right being denied to “foreigners” and to Indigenous men and women.
This powerful and passionate account of prominent suffragists and their lesser-known allies shows that the right to vote meant different things to different people – political rights and emancipation for some, domination and democracy denied for others.
This book is important reading for anyone with an interest in Canadian women’s history or the history of colonialism in Prairie Canada and on the Great Plains. It will particularly appeal to students of Canadian or political history.

Ours by Every Law of Right and Justice

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Two announcements for grad students and law students from ASLH

The following two announcements are for M.A. students, Ph.D. students, and law students whose interests include legal history:

  1. Student Research Colloquium:  The ASLH invites graduate students to apply to the Student Research Colloquium (SRC), currently scheduled (fingers crossed) for Nov. 11-12, in Chicago, Illinois, immediately prior to the ASLH annual meeting there.  At this pre-conference, funded workshop, eight graduate students will discuss their in-progress research projects with each other and with distinguished legal historians.  Target applicants include early-post-coursework Ph.D. students and historically minded law students.  To apply, electronically submit the following four items to John Wertheimer at: a CV; a cover letter describing, among other things, how many years remain in your course of graduate study; a two-page, single-spaced Research Statement that begins with a title and describes the in-progress project that you propose to present to the colloquium; and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, sent separately from the other materials.  The application deadline is June 15, 2020.  For more information, click this link

  1. Graduate Student Survey:  The ASLH regards graduate students as an important part of our legal history community.  We are proud of our efforts to date to make the ASLH a hospitable home for early-stage scholars.  But we want to do better.  Among other things, we want to enhance the presence of international graduate students in the organization.  Accordingly, we are gathering information that will help us to make the society an even more inclusive place for early-stage legal historians.  If you are a graduate student or a historically minded law student, please click this link to take a short survey in English, Spanish, or Portuguese, as you choose.  We appreciate your time and hope to see you at the annual meeting in Chicago!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Call for nominations: R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Canadian Legal History

The R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Canadian Legal History was created in 2007, on the occasion of the retirement as Chief Justice of Ontario of the Hon. R. Roy McMurtry. It honours the contribution to Canadian legal history of Roy McMurtry, Attorney-General and Chief Justice of Ontario, founder of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and for many years the Society’s President.
The fellowship of $16,000 is to support graduate (preferably doctoral) students or those with a recently completed doctorate, to conduct research in Canadian legal history, for one year. Scholars working on any topic in the field of Canadian legal history are eligible. Applicants should be in a graduate programme at an Ontario University or, if they have a completed doctorate, be affiliated with an Ontario University.
The fellowship may be held concurrently with other awards for graduate study. Eligibility is not limited to history and law programmes; persons in cognate disciplines such as criminology or political science may apply, provided the subject of the research they will conduct as a McMurtry fellow is Canadian legal history. The selection committee may take financial need into consideration. Applications will be assessed by a committee appointed by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History.
Those interested in the 2020 fellowship should apply by sending a full c.v. and a statement of the research they would conduct as a McMurtry fellow to Amanda Campbell, McMurtry Fellowship Selection Committee, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, M5H 2N6. Or to The deadline for applications has been extended to May 31, 2020.

Call for nominations: Peter Oliver Prize for published student work in Canadian Legal History

Peter Oliver Prize in Canadian Legal History

The Peter Oliver Prize in Canadian Legal History was established by the Society in 2006 in honour of Professor Peter Oliver, the Society’s founding editor-in-chief. The prize is awarded annually for published work (journal article, book chapter, book) in Canadian legal history written by a student.
Students in any discipline at any stage of their careers are eligible. The Society takes a broad view of legal history, one that includes work in socio-legal history, legal culture, etc., as well as work on the history of legal institutions, legal personnel, and substantive law.
Students may self-nominate their published work, and faculty members are also encouraged to nominate student work of which they are aware. Those nominating their own work should send a copy of it to the Society.
The deadline for nominations for the 2020 Prize, to be awarded for work published in 2019, is May 15, 2020.
Please send nominations to Professor Jim Phillips, Editor-in-Chief, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M5H 2N6, or by email to

Friday, April 3, 2020

CFP: One Empire, Many Colonies, Similar or Different Histories?, Auckland, Dec. 2020

via David V. Williams, University of Auckland

One Empire, Many Colonies, Similar or Different Histories?

39th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society scheduled to be held in Auckland, 9th-12th December 2020 to go ahead.

Here's the call for papers.

39th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society, Auckland, 9th-12th December 2020
Call for Papers
“One Empire, Many Colonies, Similar or Different Histories?”

Abstracts are invited from scholars bringing historical perspective on law who wish to gather at The University of Auckland and AUT University – there to listen to and discuss papers and panels on aspects of law in history. The 2020 theme invites a comparative lens on British imperial and colonial histories. Other papers with an historical perspective on law might include work that positions law in a specific temporal frame; deals with histories of law, lawmaking, and legal ideas; or has a focus on legal institutions and their personnel. Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are welcome.

Individual paper proposals for a 20 minute presentation must include an abstract (no more than 300 words) and a biographical statement (no more than 100 words).
Panel proposals by 3 or 4 speakers should include the above, plus a panel title and brief rationale for the panel as a whole (no more than 300 words).
All abstracts must be submitted to Karen Fairweather: by
15th July 2020

The Organising Committee intends to notify all those whose abstracts have been accepted for the programme by the end of August 2020. All presenters must be current financial members of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society, or must pay a subscription for the 2020 year.

Graduate students are invited to apply for Kercher Scholarships to assist them in attending the conference. Please apply to Katherine Sanders: by 31 August. Graduate attendees may also wish to enter for the Forbes Society Prize.

The Society’s peer-reviewed journal law&history will consider submissions from those who present papers at the conference. A conference website with information on registration costs, accommodation options, etc will be established in due course. Our keynote speakers will include Dame Sian Elias (Retired NZ Chief Justice), Joshua Getzler (Oxford) and Miranda Johnson (Sydney, but soon to be at Otago).

Further information about the conference may be gleaned from David or from

Monday, March 2, 2020

Call for Papers: British Legal History Conference 2021 Law and Constitutional Change

via Norma Dawson, Queen's University, Belfast


The 2021 British Legal History Conference (BLHC)
In association with the Irish Legal History Society

Queen’s University, Belfast
7-10 July 2021


Abstracts are invited for the 2021 BRITISH LEGAL HISTORY CONFERENCE which is being run jointly with the IRISH LEGAL HISTORY SOCIETY and hosted by Queen’s University Belfast. 

2021 will be a significant year in the “Decade of Centenaries”[1] in Ireland, north and south, marking both the centenary of the opening in June 1921 of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, and the centenary of the signing of articles of agreement for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, which led to the establishment of the Irish Free State.  Against this background, BLHC 2021 will take place in partnership with the ILHS in Belfast. 

While the conference theme – “Law and Constitutional Change” – has been chosen in the context outlined above, this is without any intention to restrict the scope of the conference papers to Anglo-Irish history.   The theme will be interpreted in all its historical breadth, examining from any historical perspective the relationship between law and law-making on the one hand and, on the other, the shaping of constitutional principles and the disruption or maintenance of constitutional balance.

Please note the following rules:
-          Abstracts must be for individual papers only, not for panels
-          Only one abstract to be submitted per person
-          Abstracts must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents using the online portal on the Call for Papers page of the conference website.  Please do not submit by email.
-          Abstracts must not exceed 500 words
-          The deadline for submission of abstracts is Friday 30 August 2020
-          Queries can be emailed to    
-          At the conference, individual oral presentations will last 15-20 minutes.

We hope to publish the programme on the conference website in October 2020.  Details of plenary speakers will also appear there in due course.

Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are welcome.

Further information about travel to Belfast, accommodation, and so on, will be added to the conference website during 2020-2021:

This, the second joint BLHC - ILHS conference, was proposed by Sir Anthony Hart, retired High Court judge, former president of ILHS and enthusiastic supporter of BLHCs, who died suddenly in July 2019.  A poster competition is planned during the 2021 conference as a tribute to Tony.  There will be two prizes, including one for the PGR/early career category. The prizes are generously funded by the Journal of Legal History and by the Irish Legal History Society.  Details of the competition will be posted on the conference website.

[1] See, a website sponsored by the Irish Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and other websites linked to it.

Monday, February 24, 2020

CTV report on historic slave trial in New Brunswick

Kudos to historian Graham Nickerson of UNB, whose archival find was recently the subject of a report by Laura Brown of CTV (@LauraBrownctv)

Here's the report:
FREDERICTON -- A black historian - originally from Nova Scotia - is uncovering some of New Brunswick's slave history, including the story of a slave named Nancy.
Graham Nickerson studies black loyalist history at the University of New Brunswick and is working on bringing Nancy's story to light.
Few details are known about Nancy. Nickerson has discovered she was born in Maryland and brought to New Brunswick in 1785. She spent much of her life as a slave on a large property where the neighbourhood of Nashwaaksis in Fredericton sits today.
There doesn't appear to be any photos or documents detailing Nancy's life or death, but there are archives of a trial between her and her slave owner in Fredericton 220 years ago this month.
"She brings a case that's essentially strong enough to challenge the entire institution," said Nickerson. "She's at a level that’s really, really close to the bottom and she's challenging an institution that's at the top. And so, I think there's a lesson to be learned that if you're on the side of right, you should challenge authority."
According to the archives, Nancy's case was in front of four judges, including three slave owners. One of those included Chief Justice George Ludlow, whose name was used to name the University of New Brunswick's law building.
Students at the University have asked the school to remove the name on Ludlow Hall. The president of U.N.B. formed a group in December to look at how the building was named, Ludlow's history, and recommend the next steps.
That group is supposed to provide a report by May 1.
"Either, we change the name of the Ludlow Hall to something that's more inclusive, or we also build a memorial to Nancy," said Nickerson. "As a black man, my family tree is full of black women who were traumatized by owners, and the white men in their life, and we don't have commemorations to that."
Nancy lost her case and has since disappeared from historical records. Nickerson says he wants to ensure her legacy lives on by sharing her story.
"To do justice to the women who raised us," said Nickerson.
A Black Heritage Exhibit – which will include Nancy's story – is scheduled to open this summer at Fredericton Region Museum.
h/t Nicole O'Byrne.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Osgoode Society 2020 books announced!

2020 Osgoode Society Books announced!

Our members book for 2020 is Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance through Alliance, by Heidi Bohaker, Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto. Published by the University of Toronto Press. While Canada's constitution protects Indigenous treaty rights, Canadians know much less about the legal traditions of Indigenous nations and the ways in which these different traditions informed treaties made between Indigenous peoples and the Crown. This volume is a ground-breaking exploration of one Indigenous legal tradition. In it, the author explains how a uniquely Anishinaabe category of kinship, the doodem, structured governance and law as practiced in formal councils (referred to metaphorically as fires) through the practice of alliance formation.  Such alliances created relationships of interdependence, which were renewed through the exchange of gifts in council. The records of early Canadian treaties, Bohaker argues, are to be found in the records of gifts exchanged to create these alliances between council fires; the Anishinaabe treated the French, and later the British, as if their governments were council fires also.  In return, colonial officials adhered to Indigenous law when they entered into treaties. Bohaker weaves together a voluminous amount of research from both Anishinaabe and European sources, including archival documents and material culture from institutions in Canada, Britain and France, to describe the continuities and changes in Anishinaabe governance and law until settler colonial law (the Indian Act) replaced traditional governance with elected band councils.

Become a member and receive the book free with your membership (other options of membership available--visit our membership page.) At the same time, pre-order this year's optional extra, for $60.00 (hardcover.)

In 2020 we are also publishing  The Death Penalty and Sex Murder in Canadian History, by Professor Carolyn Strange of the Australian National University in Canberra.  This major study of the operation of the death penalty focusses on the disposition by executive review of all cases between Confederation and the abolition of the death penalty in which the offender not only committed murder but did so at the same time as he (or she) also committed a serious sexual offence. Professor Strange is able to show that such offenders fared much less well in the commutation process than other people convicted of murder and sentenced to death. As importantly, she divides the overall narrative into six periods, showing that within each period political, administrative and public consideration of the cases were conducted against a background of other concerns, ranging from the ‘danger’ of immigrants to the rise of psychiatric concern with such offenders to the abolition movement of the 1960s.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Call for applications: Peter Gonville Stein Book Award

Peter Gonville Stein Book Award
American Society for Legal History

The Peter Gonville Stein Book Award is awarded annually for the best book in non-US legal history written in English. This award is designed to recognize and encourage the further growth of fine work in legal history that focuses on all regions outside the United States, as well as global and international history. To be eligible, a book must be published during the previous calendar year. Announced at the annual meeting of the ASLH, this honor includes a citation on the contributions of the work to the broader field of legal history. A book may only be considered for the Stein Award, the Reid Award, or the Cromwell Book Prize. It may not be nominated for more than one of these three prizes.

The Stein Award is named in memory of Peter Gonville Stein, BA, LLB (Cantab); PhD (Aberdeen); QC; FBA; Honorary Fellow, ASLH, and eminent scholar of Roman law at the University of Cambridge, and made possible by a generous contribution from an anonymous donor.

Last year, Khaled Fahmy won the award for In Quest of Justice: Islamic Law and Forensic Medicine in Modern Egypt, and Rohit De received honorable mention for A People’s Constitution: The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic.

For the 2020 prize, the Stein Award Committee will accept nominations of any book (not including textbooks, critical editions, and collections of essays) that bears a copyright date of 2019 as it appears in the printed version of the book. Translations into English may be nominated, provided they are published within two years of the publication date of the original version.

Nominations for the Stein Award (including self-nominations) should be submitted by March 16, 2020. Please send an e-mail to the Committee at and include: (1) a curriculum vitae of the author (including the author’s e-mail address); and (2) the name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of the contact person at the press who will provide the committee with two copies of the book. This person will be contacted shortly after the deadline. If a title is short-listed, five additional copies will be requested from the publisher.

Please contact the committee chair, Matthew C. Mirow, with any questions at

Friday, February 7, 2020

Next Osgoode Society legal history evening March 24, 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.
The Museum Room, Osgoode Hall

A lecture event exploring the work of our 2019 McMurtry Fellowship recipients. 
This event is free, but open only to society members. Pre-register through our website 

If you aren't a member or need to renew, you can do that easily through the website too.

Anna Jarvis
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
Just the Basic Facts: The Certification of Insanity in Ontario

The certification of insanity was a medico-legal procedure regulating admission into psychiatric institutions. This 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, it will explore the introduction of certificates of insanity, examination practices, and people involved in the process. It will show that certification in Ontario was a consensus-based procedure shielding medical practitioners from potential legal actions.