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Monday, March 8, 2021

Happy International Women's Day!

 Did you know....the Osgoode Society has numerous books and oral histories that focus on women and the law. Here are a just a few of the former:

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Black History Month! Read up on the history of race and the law in Canada

The Osgoode Society has published several books and articles on the historical experience of blacks and other racialized groups in the Canadian legal system. Here's a partial list by author:

Backhouse, Constance, Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada, 1900-1950 (1999). See particularly chapters 6 and 7: ‘It will be quite an Object Lesson: R. v. Phillips and the Ku Klax Klan in Oakville, Ontario, 1930,’ and ‘Bitterly Disappointed at the Spread of Colour Bar Tactics: Viola Desmond’s Challenge to Racial Segregation, Nova Scotia, 1950.’ 

Backhouse, Constance, ‘Your Conscience will be your own punishment: The Racially Motivated Murder of Gus Ninham, Ontario, 1902,’ in G. Blaine Baker and Jim Phillips, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume VIII (1999) 

Brode, Patrick, The Odyssey of John Anderson (1989) 

Fyson, Donald, ‘Minority Groups and the Law in Quebec,’ in G. Blaine Baker and Donald Fyson, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume 11: Quebec and the Canadas (2013) 

Girard, Philip, Jim Phillips and Blake Brown, A History of Law in Canada Volume 1: Beginnings to 1866 (2018). See particularly chapter 12, ‘Slavery, Race and the Constitution’, and chapter 31, ‘Less Favoured by Law: Blacks and Workers.’ 

Miller, Bradley, Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border (2016). See particularly chapter 5, ‘The Non-Law of Refugees in British North America.’ 

Murray, David, Colonial Justice: Justice, Morality, and Crime in the Niagara District, 1791-1849 (2002). See particularly chapter 10, ‘Hand Across the Border,’ about an ex-slave extradition case. 

Luce, Frank and Karen Schucher, ‘The Right to Discriminate: Kenneth Bell vs Carl Mackay and the Ontario Human Rights Commission,’ in Eric Tucker, James Muir and Bruce Ziff, eds., Property on Trial: Canadian Cases in Context (2012) 

Walker, Barrington, ed., The African-Canadian Legal Odyssey: Historical Essays (2012) 

Walker, Barrington, Race on Trial: Black Defendants in Ontario’s Criminal Courts, 1858-1958 (2010) 

Walker, James W., Race, Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies (1997). See particularly chapter 3, ‘Christie v York Corporation,’ and chapter 4, ‘Noble and Wolf v. Alley.’

Details on how to purchase available at or email Amanda Campbell <>

Legal Histories of Empire: Second Symposium (via Zoom, March 4/5, 2021)

Notice from Shaunnagh Dorsett (

Legal Histories of Empire: Second Symposium

Join us for the second of several symposia planned for 2020 and 2021 for Legal Histories of Empire.

Our speakers:

Lisa Ford: 'The King's Colonial Peace: Variable subjecthood and the transformation of empire'

This paper is drawn from my forthcoming book, The King's Peace: Empire and Order in the British Empire. The book uses colonial peacekeeping as a lens through which to examine the shifting parameters of crown prerogative in Empire in the Age of Revolutions. This paper will argue that the legal vulnerability of (and often threats to order posed by) a diverse array of subjects - formerly French Catholics in Quebec, Caribbean slaves and NSW convicts - both prompted and justified the unravelling of the very idea of the freeborn Englishman that had been mobilised by protestant Britons in pre-revolutionary America.

Lisa Ford is Professor of History at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Her major publications include Settler Sovereignty: Jurisdiction and Indigenous People in America and Australia, 1788-1836 (2010) which won the Littleton-Griswold Prize (American Historical Association); the Thomas J. Wilson Prize (Harvard University Press); and the Premiers History Award (NSW). She is also co-author of Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850 (co-authored with Lauren Benton, 2016) and author of The King’s Peace, which will be published by Harvard later this year. Ford is currently leading a collaborative project funded by the Australian Research Council exploring the role of commissions of inquiry sent throughout the British Empire in the 1820s on which subject she hopes to lead author a book manuscript this year. She also holds a four-year ARC Future Fellowship, during which she will explore the changing use of martial law in the British Empire from the late eighteenth century until 1865.

Jessica Hinchy: 'Child Removal and the Colonial Governance of the Family: Hijra and "Criminal Tribe" Households in North India, c. 1865-1900'

Historians have primarily examined colonial child removal projects in settler colonial contexts. Yet from 1865, the colonial government in north India forcibly removed children from criminalised communities. Child separation began in the households of gender non-conforming people labelled ‘eunuchs,’ particularly Hijras, and eventually extended to socially marginalised people designated as ‘criminal tribes,’ especially Sansiyas. First, what does a comparison of these child removal schemes tell us about the colonial governance of the family? Patrilineal, conjugal and reproductive household models marginalised Hijras and Sansiyas in differing ways, while the category of ‘child’ was contingently defined. Child separation was attempted to varying ends, including both elimination and assimilation. Yet often, the colonial state could not sustain such intensified forms of intimate governance in the face of resistance from households. Nor could officials simply determine removed children’s futures. Second, what does child removal suggest about the making of colonial law? When children were initially removed from Hijra and Sansiya households, officials admitted that ‘the law may have been somewhat strained,’ since existing laws did not provide police or magistrates with legal powers to separate these children. The Sansiya child removal project, for instance, prompted debates about colonial legal exceptions and the ‘legality’ of the colonial state’s practices among colonial officials and Indian and European non-officials.

Jessica Hinchy is an Assistant Professor of History at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. She researches the history of gender, sexuality, households and family in colonial north India. In 2019, Cambridge University Press published her first monograph, Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial India: The Hijra, c. 1850-1900. Her research has also appeared in Modern Asian Studies, Gender & History and Asian Studies Review, among other journals.

The event will take place by zoom on Friday 5 March (or Thursday 4 March, depending on your timezone - see below). Please register here (via Eventbrite) to attend.


Sydney @ 12.30 pm on 5 March

Singapore @ 9.30 am on 5 March

Auckland @ 2.30 pm on 5 March

New Delhi @ 7.00 am on 5 March

London/Dublin @ 1.30 am on 5 March

Nairobi @ 4.30 am on 5 March

Vancouver @ 5.30 pm on 4 March

New Haven/Toronto @ 8.30 pm on 4 March

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Osgoode Society Zoom event Wednesday Jan 20 at 5:30 pm

During the first few months of 2021 the Osgoode Society will be putting on a series of ZOOM events, covering various themes including Diversity and the Law in Canadian Legal History. The schedule is currently a work in progress, but the first such event will be held on Wednesday January 20th, at 5.30. 

Professor Heidi Bohaker of the University of Toronto will discuss her book Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance Through Alliance. This study of Anishinaabe law before the Europeans is the Osgoode Society’s members’ selection for 2020. To join us for this fascinating presentation please register on our website at On registration you will be sent the link for the event.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Are you interested in history of black labour and the law in late 18th century Canada? Or the medical-legal history of "certification" of insanity?


Upcoming Events


Join us for an Evening of Canadian Legal History 

Spots still available

November 18, 2020 at 5:30 via Zoom

This event will explore the work of our 2019 McMurtry Fellowship recipients.


Anna Jarvis, Black labour, loyalism, and the law in late eighteenth-century British North America

In 1783 five siblings of the Jarvis family of Stamford, Connecticut, were forced to flee the City of New York as part of the Loyalist diaspora following the American revolutionary war, bringing notions of race and labour with them. This diaspora included black Loyalists and black slaves who were to become part of the black population of the British North American colonies. The Jarvis siblings would profit from black labour by various then legal means, including indenture and enslavement, reflecting the varying degrees of bound and free black labour under negotiation in British North America at the end of the eighteenth century.

Filippo Sposini, Just the Basic Facts: The Certification of Insanity in Ontario (1870s-1890s)

The certification of insanity was a medico-legal procedure regulating admission into psychiatric institutions. 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.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER and Renew Your Membership for 2020.

Bohaker, Doodem and Council Fire to be published at the end of the month

 We are pleased to announce that this year our members’ book, Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance Through Alliance by Heidi Bohaker, is scheduled to be published at the end of this month. If you are a member the book will be sent to you automatically.

Not only is this book an exhaustively researched account of the legal traditions of one of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, it is also elaborately illustrated and would make a wonderful Christmas gift!  To purchase a gift membership, or to renew your membership, please visit our website

Friday, October 23, 2020

Tenure stream appointment at Dal in Canadian History with Justice, Law and Society focus

h/t Shirley Tillotson 

Assistant Professor of Canadian History Posting Number F142P 
Tenure Stream 
Department/Unit History Location Halifax 
About the opportunity: The Department of History at Dalhousie University invites applications from junior academics for an early-career tenure-stream position in nineteenth- or twentieth-century Canadian History at the Assistant Professor level, effective 1 July 2021. The position is open to historians of Canada with a focus on Law, Justice and Society. Furthermore, the committee is particularly but not exclusively interested in historians whose research addresses transnational issues and/or the carceral state. Although prior teaching experience is not necessary, the successful candidate will be expected to teach two courses that qualify for the Law, Justice and Society program [HIST 3226, Law and Justice in Canadian Society to 1890, and HIST 3227, Criminal Law, Crime, and Punishment in Canada, 1890 to the Present], with the other courses to be determined in consultation between the candidate and the Department. The courses will include both seminars and lectures. The Department of History has both MA and PhD programmes in Canadian History. Therefore, some graduate teaching is expected. Applicants must have a PhD in hand by 1 July 2021 and demonstrate potential for excellence as a teacher and a scholar. The position is subject to budgetary approval. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. 
Dalhousie University is committed to fostering a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness. The university encourages applications from Indigenous persons, persons with a disability, racially visible persons, women, persons of a minority sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and all candidates who would contribute to the diversity of our community. For more information, please visit Applications will be accepted until December 1 and must include the following: • A letter of application addressed to the Search Committee (maximum 2 pages) • A complete CV • A teaching dossier that addresses teaching effectiveness and philosophy • A representative publication, if applicable, or a writing sample of not more than 20 pages • Names and contact details for three referees; reference letters will be solicited after the files are reviewed. Please apply for this position directly via PeopleAdmin. The posting can be found at Established in 1818, Dalhousie is a leading research-intensive university offering more than 180 degree programs across 13 faculties. It is the largest university in Atlantic Canada and is located in the heart of Halifax, a scenic coastal city and capital of Nova Scotia, which is home to 13 Mi’kmaq First Nations, a deeply rooted historical African Canadian community, and an increasingly diverse population. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is a dynamic body of students, faculty, and staff arranged into upwards of twenty programs and departments, many offering graduate degrees. Further information about the Department and the University can be obtained at Open Date 10/22/2020 Close Date 12/01/2020 Open Until Filled No Quick Link for Direct Access to Posting Documents Needed to Apply Required Documents Résumé / Curriculum Vitae (CV) Cover Letter Teaching Dossier Sample Publication(s) List of referees Optional Documents