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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Legal History Workshop 2nd term schedule

The winter 2014 schedule for the Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop:

There have been a coupe of changes to the second term schedule. Please note that we will have the first meeting on January 15th, not January 8th as previously scheduled

Wednesday January 15 - Maynard Maidman, York University: "The Practice of Law in Ancient Mesopotamia: Two Cases from ca. 1400-1350 B.C."

Wednesday January 22 - Eric Adams, University of Alberta: “TBA”

Wednesday February 5 - Philip Girard, Osgoode Hall Law School: “A History of Canadian Law, Chapter 2: 1500-1701"

Wednesday February 12 - Bill Wicken, York University: “Residency on the Six Nations Reserve: Legal and Social issues, 1870-1920.”

Wednesday February 26 - Sally Hadden, Western Michigan University:  “Friends, Colleagues, Competitors: Apprenticeship and Communities of Young Lawyers in Colonial America”

Wednesday March 12 - Tyler Wentzell, University of Toronto: “Not for King nor Country: Canada's Foreign Enlistment Act and the Spanish Civil War”

Wednesday March 26 - Don Fyson, Laval University: “TBA”

Wednesday April 9 - Bettina Bradbury, York University: “‘In the event of my said wife remaining in the colonies … all her interest in my will is to cease’: The widow Kearney contests her husband’s final wishes in colonial Victoria, Australia.”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mohr, Irish perspective on Statute of Westminster

In the most recent issue of the Law and History Review, Thomas Mohr has an article, "The Statute of Westminster, 1931: An Irish Perspective." The Statute of Westminster looms so large in Canadian constitutional history that I for one often forget the larger imperial context, which Mohr's 'Irish Perspective' does much to illuminate.

Here's the abstract:
The enactment of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 represents one of the most significant events in the history of the British Empire. The very name of this historic piece of legislation, with its medieval antecedents, epitomizes a sense of enduring grandeur and dignity. The Statute of Westminster recognized significant advances in the evolution of the self-governing Dominions into fully sovereign states. The term “Dominion” was initially adopted in relation to Canada, but was extended in 1907 to refer to all self-governing colonies of white settlement that had been evolving in the direction of greater autonomy since the middle of the nineteenth century. By the early 1930s, the Dominions included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Newfoundland, and the Irish Free State.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Call for Proposals: ASLH meeting in Denver, November 6-8, 2014.

The 2014 meeting of the American Society for Legal History (ASLH) will take place in Denver, Colorado, November 6-8, 2014. The ASLH invites proposals on any facet or period of legal history, anywhere in the world. We also encourage thematic proposals that range across traditional chronological or geographical fields. In selecting presenters, the Program Committee will give preference to those who did not present at last year's meeting.
Travel grants will be available for presenters in need. These resources will nevertheless be limited, and special priority will be given to presenters traveling from abroad, graduate students, post-docs, and independent scholars.
The Program Committee welcomes proposals for both full panels and individual papers, though please note that individual papers are less likely to be accepted. The Program Committee encourages the submission of a variety of different types of panel proposals, including: traditional 3-paper panels (with a separate chair-commentator); incomplete panels lacking either one paper or a chair-commentator (whether 2-paper panels with a chair-commentator, or 3-paper panels without a chair-commentator), which the Committee will try to complete; author-meets-reader panels; and roundtable discussions.
All panel proposals should include the following:
·       A single page listing the panel title, the titles of each paper, complete contact information for each presenter (including chair-commentator), and any special scheduling requests. (Note that we may not be able to accommodate all scheduling requests.)
·       a 300-word description of the panel
·       a c.v. for each presenter
·       for paper-based panels only: a 300-word abstract of each paper
 Individual paper proposals should include:
·       a c.v. for each presenter (including complete contact information)
·       a 300-word abstract of the paper
Please note that AV equipment/powerpoint capabilities will be unavailable at the Denver 2014 conference.
The deadline for submitting proposals is March 1, 2014. Proposals should be sent as email attachments to  Substantive questions should be directed to Joanna Grisinger ( or Mitra Sharafi (
Those unable to send proposals as email attachments may mail hard copies to:
2014 ASLH Program Committee
c/o Mitra Sharafi, UW Law School, 975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI, 53706-1399, USA

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Doug Hay becomes honorary fellow of ASLH

This just in from the annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History in Miami: Doug Hay of
Osgoode Hall Law School and York University has been elected an honorary fellow of the society. Doug joins recent Canadian honorary fellows Philip Girard and John Beattie and, like them, is more than deserving of this recognition as one of the greats in the field. Congratulations, Doug!
(Thanks to our roving correspondent, Jim Phillips.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

To Right Historical Wrongs by Carmela Murdocca from UBC Press

To Right Historical Wrongs: Race, Gender and Sentencing in Canada, by Carmela Murdocca, published by UBC Press.

Here's what the publisher has to say:

Following World War II, liberal nation-states sought to address injustices of the past. In keeping with trends in other countries, Canada's government began to consider its own implication in various past wrongs, and in the late twentieth century it began to implement reparative justice initiatives for historically marginalized people. 

In 1996 the Canadian Criminal Code was amended with section 718.2(e), which instructs judges to consider reparative justice for Aboriginal offenders where possible. In 2012 a Supreme Court decision noted that no Aboriginal person should be sentenced without full consideration of the legacies of colonialism, displacement, and residential schools. Yet despite these efforts, there are more Indigenous and racialized people in Canadian prisons now than at any other time in history. 

In To Right Historical Wrongs, Carmela Murdocca brings together the paradigm of reparative justice and the study of incarceration in an examination of this disconnect between political motivations for amending historical injustices and the vastly disproportionate reality of the penal system -- a troubling reality that is often ignored. 

Drawing on detailed examination of legal cases, parliamentary debates, government reports, media commentary, and community sources, Murdocca presents a new perspective on discussions of culture-based sentencing in an age of both mass incarceration and historical amendment.

Canadian Legal History Blog now on Twitter!

Thanks (?) to the urging of fellow Osgoode Society director Trish McMahon, the Canadian Legal History Blog is now on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CFP: submissions from grad and professional students sought for interdisciplinary history issue

Shared Paths: Western’s Graduate Journal of Interdisciplinary History

We are currently accepting submissions from Graduate and Professional students for the inaugural issue of Shared Paths: Western’s Journal of Interdisciplinary History.  The journal represents an effort to promote an interdisciplinary discussion of past events.  Each issue will be devoted to exploring one particularly interesting theme. 
For the first issue, authors are encouraged to submit papers which explore the concepts of Truth(s) and (In)Justice from any academic discipline and a variety of perspectives.  Applying interdisciplinary examinations of past events allows us to compare and contrast conceptions of truth and justice over time and distance.  The same event may look to represent justice to one party while the opposite is often true for the other.  Over time, what is ‘true’ becomes blurred as memories fade and stories pass from one generation to the next, from one observer to another.  History is replete with examples of how there is never one “truth” and “justice” is not universal. 
We welcome submissions from a broad range of perspectives and approaches to the study of Truth(s) and (In)justice, including, but not limited to:

  • War and Conflict
  • Social Justice and Peace
  • Individual and Collective Memory
  • Migration and Ethnic Relations
  • Women’s Studies and Feminist Research
  • Labour/Working Class Struggles
  • Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction
  • Environmental History
  • First Nations History
  • Religion and Religious groups
  • Politics and the State
  • Legal History
  • Oral History
  • Protest and Change
  • Real and Imagined Space
Book Reviews related to the theme of Truth(s) and (In)Justice are also encouraged.  Shared Paths is a peer-reviewed journal, and seeks submissions of the highest academic quality. Submissions should conform to the guidelines attached below and be received no later than Friday, 31 January 2014.  Send submissions to along with a short abstract (250 words) and 5 ‘keywords’ as well as brief biographical and contact information.

Submission Guidelines
Manuscripts must be submitted electronically as word documents. PDFs will not be accepted.
Manuscripts should be between 6,000 and 9,000 words in length, inclusive of notes.
All manuscripts must conform The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition or newer.
Text must be in 12-point font and double-spaced.
Pages must be numbered.
Manuscripts must be blinded in preparation for the peer-review process. Any information that can identify the author is to be removed from the manuscript’s text and the electronic document’s metadata.
Manuscripts should be accompanied by a separate document with the authors' names, title of paper, institution, email address, an abstract not exceeding 250 words, and a list of 5 keywords that will be used to enhance the discoverability of articles published online.
Book Reviews
Book reviews are not to exceed 1,500 words in length.
References from the text being reviewed can be cited by indicating the page number in brackets. All other citations must conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, or newer.
Illustrations and tables
Illustrations and tables should be compiled at the end of the manuscript.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New edition from MQUP: 36 Steps on the Road to Medicare by Houston and Massie

A timely re-issue/revision from McGill-Queen's University Press, given current events in the U.S. Why didn't we have anything like the degree of trouble they are having developing a programme of  universal access to health care? Here's one answer to the puzzle in the Saskatchewan antecedents of the programme.

36 Steps on the Road to Medicare: How Saskatchewan led the Way by  C. StuartHouston and Merle Massie sounds more on the medicine, policy and political history side and a bit rah-rah and presentist, so govern yourself accordingly, 

Here's what the publisher has to say.

The co-operative spirit of citizens in twentieth-century Saskatchewan nurtured innovation in health care and health policy. 36 Steps on the Road to Medicare showcases the decisions that led to the province's medicare system - the forerunner of Canadian health care.

Stuart Houston and Merle Massie document the range of Saskatchewan leadership on Canadian, North American, and world stages: municipal doctors and municipal hospitals, the first Red Cross Outpost Hospital in the British Empire, tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, a successful pilot comprehensive regional health care plan, government-sponsored cancer clinics, innovative LSD and patient-oriented treatment for psychoses, the first full-time cancer physicist in Canada, and the world's first concerted clinical use of the betatron and Cobalt-60 in cancer treatment. They show how North America's first social-democratic government, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation - elected in 1944 and led by the incomparable Tommy Douglas - created the blueprint for comprehensive health care and how sequential steps on the road to medicare were implemented quickly and within budget. When federal support for national hospitalization became available, Saskatchewan could afford to initiate medicare in 1962. Other Canadian provinces soon followed Saskatchewan's lead.

Updated to engage with current debates, 36 Steps on the Road to Medicare navigates the history of medicare and demonstrates the spirit of innovation that Canada will need to save it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Osgoode Society launches four books

The Osgoode Society formally launched its 2103 books yesterday at a reception at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.

The first three were published earlier this year; Essays in the History of Canadian Law XI: Quebec and the Canadas edited by Donald Fyson and G. Blaine Baker has just appeared in print. I haven't had a chance to go through it yet, though I did get a chance to read Blaine Baker's survey of the legal historiography of the period/region in draft. It will be enormously useful. And please check out the dust jacket for an amusing period cartoon, courtesy of McGill University history professor emeritus Brian Young.  Perceptions of lawyer greed (and persistence therein) are a historical constant.

Here's the blurb (picture sadly not yet available, I will update when it is):

This latest volume in the Essays in the History of Canadian Law series, with which we launched our publishing programme in 1981, is the first devoted to central Canada - what is now Ontario and Quebec before Confederation. Anchored by a comprehensive introduction exploring the main themes of the legal history of the region, a group of distinguished historians have contributed 11 substantive essays (three in French), on subjects as varied as women in court, grand juries, western law and aboriginal peoples, gun use and control, Quebec legal literature, married women's property, and imprisonment for debt.

The other three books have already been announced here but here they are again. (Note:  join the Osgoode Society and receive this year's membership book and purchase any of this year's additional books here. 

Our Members Book for 2013 is Memoirs and Reflections by the Hon. R. Roy McMurtry, published by the University of Toronto Press.  In addition to his most important accomplishment, the founding of the Osgoode Society, Roy McMurtry recounts and reflects on his years as a criminal defence lawyer, attorney-general of Ontario, High Commissioner to the UK, and Chief Justice of Ontario. Along the way we are given insights into the patriation of the Constitution, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the Dubin Inquiry, and many other events. This book is a great read, a modern legal history of Canada and Ontario, and a tale of a life well lived.

Lawyers, Families, and Businesses: The Shaping of a Bay Street Law Firm, Faskens 1863-1963, by C. Ian Kyer, Lawyer and  Historian, published by Irwin Law. Ian Kyer holds a Ph.D. in history and was for many years a partner at Fasken Martineau. He has combined  his historical and legal expertise to produce a comprehensive account of the first century of Faskens. He takes us through crucial stages in the development of not just this but many other Canadian law firms - alliances with business, the growth of two or three man partnerships into considerably larger firms, and the links between leading firms and politics. Along the way we see how law practice changed, how remuneration was divided up, how strong leaders stamped their individual personalities on the collective identity of the firm. This is a major contribution to our understanding of the seismic changes in Canadian law practice.

The Massey Murder: A Maid, her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Nation, by Charlotte Gray, Independent Historian, published by Harper Collins. In 1915 Carrie Davies, an 18-year old servant girl in the home of Charles (Bert) Massey, scion of the famous Massey family, shot and killed her employer as he entered his house after work. Remarkably, she was acquitted, and award winning popular historian Charlotte Gray explains how this happened. Vividly recreating the war time atmosphere, a press war, and conflicts over crime and gender, she highlights the role played by the defence lawyer who exploited the "unwritten law" of an honour killing in a rare Canadian case of jury nullification.

Campbell on crime and racial geography in Hamilton, Canada West

In the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, December 2013 (published online July 2013), Lyndsay Campbell writes on “The Disorderly Conduct of a Few”: Crime and Hamilton’s Racial Geography in the Early 1850s"

The abstract is not currently available. I will update when it is.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Constance Backhouse recipient of 2013 Governor General's Persons Case Award

Celebrated Canadian legal historian Constance Backhouse is one of five recipients of the Governor General's award in commemoration of the "Persons Case" for 2013.  For our non-Canadian readers, the Persons Case, more formally known as Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General) declared that the term 'person' in the British North America Act (then the Constitution of Canada) included women. Since 1979 the Governor General has made this award yearly to five women who have contributed to the legal and social advancement of Canadian women in honour of the famous five who were the applicants in the case, a constitutional reference to the Supreme Court of Canada (which found against them) and then appellants to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, then the final court of appeal for Canada, where they were successful in October of 1929. For those interested, the case, the famous five, and the enunciation of the principle of the 'living tree' by Lord Sankey, whereby the constitution is to be interpreted as a growing document (the opposite of U.S. 'originalism') are the subject of the book The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal Personhood (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2007), by Robert J. Sharpe and Patricia McMahon.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Canadian Journal of Law and Society: Call for Special Issue Proposals

It would be great to have a legal history issue, if anyone's game to propose it....

Call For Special Issue Proposals
Canadian Journal of Law and Society
Revue Canadienne Droit et Société

In addition to publishing two regular issues a year featuring top socio-legal scholarship from around the world, the Canadian Journal of Law and Society/ Revue Canadienne Droit et Société is interested in publishing one special issue each year.  We are currently seeking proposals for a special issue to be published in 2015.

Proposals should briefly outline the overall focus of the special issue and suggest a preliminary list of authors and articles.  A brief biography of the editor or editors is also required. 

Special issues will be subject to rigorous peer review and, as such, we can not guarantee that every article submitted as part of a special issue will be published.  We will work closely with editors on this decision making process.

Proposals should be submitted to The deadline for proposals is January 1 2014.  All proposals received by that date will be reviewed by the editorial board.  A decision will be made by February 1 2014.

We invite proposals on a wide range of socio-legal topics from scholars around the world.  CJLS/RCDS is a bilingual journal and welcomes proposals and special issues in either French or English.  Special issues can also contain a blend of French and English articles.

Should you have any questions with regards to special issue proposals please do not hesitate to contact a member of our editorial team or visit the journal website at

Mariana Valverde
Violaine Lemay
Melanie Adrian

Appel à contributions pour un numéro thématique
Canadian Journal of Law and Society
Revue Canadienne Droit et Société

En plus des deux publications annuelles contenant des articles de calibre international dans champ de recherche droit et société, la Revue Canadienne Droit et Société/Canadian Journal of Law and Societypublie un numéro spécial par année. Nous acceptons maintenant des propositions pour le numéro thématique de 2015. Les propositions soumises doivent résumer brièvement le thème du numéro thématique et elles doivent proposer une liste préliminaire des auteurs et des articles proposés. Une courte bibliographie du ou des éditeur(s) doit également être fournie.

Les numéros thématiques sont l’objet de révision par les pairs et, de ce fait, il est donc impossible de garantir que chaque article soumis dans le cadre de ce numéro sera publié. Nous travaillerons de façon étroite avec les éditeurs ou directeurs de numéro dans la gestion de ce processus décisionnel. Les propositions doivent être soumises à avant le 1 janvier 2014. Toutes les propositions soumises avant cette date seront évaluées par le comité éditorial. La décision sera prise avant le 1er février 2014.

Nous accueillerons les propositions sur un large éventail de sujets et de provenance internationale dans le champ droit et société. RCDS/CJLS est une revue bilingue; nous accueillons donc les propositions de numéro thématique tant en anglais qu’en français. Les numéros thématiques peuvent également contenir un mélange d’articles en anglais et en français.  Pour toute question concernant les propositions pour numéro thématique, n’hésitez pas à écrire à l’un des membres de l’équipe éditoriale ou visitez notre site web au

Mariana Valverde
Violaine Lemay
Melanie Adrian

Canadian Journal of Law and Society/Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
Rm D482, Loeb Bldg.
Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa ON  K1S 5B6

Call for papers on human rights

(I assume this includes the history of human rights law.)

Call for Papers
Deadline for Submissions: Dec 30th, 2013
The Canadian Journal of Human Rights (CJHR), the only academic journal of its kind in Canada, is now accepting submissions for its next volume.
The CJHR is published by the Robson Hall Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba; however, it is not a typical law journal. The journal is both a national and international forum for scholars to share and debate ideas in human rights and humanitarian law and policy. It is the only journal in Canada that deals exclusively with human rights scholarship.
As developments in the area of human rights are not limited to legal events and analyses, the CJHR has an interdisciplinary focus and will publish quality papers that deal with human rights issues in a broader socio-legal arena. There is no requirement that submissions have a strict legal focus.
The CJHR welcomes submissions from scholars from diverse backgrounds of academic engagement. Manuscripts may be submitted in English or French.
Please see our web site at for specific manuscript requirements and further information. Kindly send submissions via e-mail as attachments in Word to:
Dr. Donn Short, Editor-in-Chief Canadian Journal of Human
Authors should include full contact information (name, institution, mailing address, telephone) in the body of the e-mail.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Charlotte Gray, The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country

In my mailbox yesterday, the latest from the Osgoode Society: The Massey Murder, by award-winning non-fiction writer Charlotte Gray. Those familiar with the Osgoode Society's publications will see immediately that this is not our usual style. It's more 'popular' than academic history. This is not to say that it is not the result of excellent research. Merely that while there is a note on sources and an index, there are no footnotes, even for dialogue which the author has reproduced from newspapers and other sources, and there is some creative licence taken. Says the author, "I imagine, but I do not invent....I speculate and I interpret...I do so cautiously, and only when I am confident that I am more likely to be right than wrong..." (xv-xvi). Less value for professional historians than a more conventional treatment would have afforded, but a darn good read for everyone.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Vicaire on comparative development of indigenous rights in the US and Canada

Peter Scott Vicaire, whose blog posts on Turtle Talk (the Indigenous Law and Policy Center Blog of the Michigan State University College of Law) will be familiar to those in the aboriginal law field,  has published "Two roads diverged: a comparative analysis of indigenous rights in a North American constitutional context" in the McGill Law Journal, spring 2012 issue. The full text is available on LegalTrac, for those with access.

Here's the abstract:

Fuelled by contrasting political backdrops, indigenous tribes on opposite sides of what has become the Canadian-American border have travelled upon very different trajectories, receiving dissimilar treatment from the respective governments that have laid claim to their lands. Indian tribes in the United States have sometimes had progressive legislators and high-ranking government officials enact bold laws and policies that were instrumental in creating positive change. Inversely, Aboriginal peoples in Canada have generally had to muddle through decade after decade of middling, indifferent, or occasionally even malicious bureaucrats who have continued to be too sheepish or backward-thinking to make any significant improvements. Further, the Canadian Parliament has yet to offer any substantive legislation in the vein and magnitude of that which was vital in making positive changes for American Indian tribes, even though numerous independent sources have pointed to such an approach. Rather, decades of piecemeal legislation have served only as a halfhearted attempt to counter the more odious effects of the archaic Indian Act, while those laudable governmental voices that have called for bold, substantial change have been largely ignored.

Alimentées par des contextes politiques divergents, les tribus autochtones de part et d’autre de la frontière canado-américaine ont parcouru des trajectoires assez différentes, faisant l’objet de traitements dissimilaires de la part de leur gouvernement respectif ayant revendiqué leurs terres. Les tribus amérindiennes aux États-Unis ont pu quelquefois profiter de la collaboration de législateurs et de responsables gouvernementaux progressistes qui ont promulgué des lois et des politiques courageuses ayant contribué à l’avènement de changements positifs. À l’inverse, les peuples autochtones du Canada ont généralement eu à se débrouiller seuls, décennie après décennie, devant des bureaucrates médiocres, indifférents, ou parfois même malveillants et trop penauds ou régressifs pour apporter des améliorations significatives. En outre, le Parlement canadien n’a toujours pas proposé de législation substantielle dans la même veine et ampleur des textes américains, et ce même à la lumière de nombreuses sources indépendantes favorisant une telle approche. Plutôt, des décennies de mesures législatives fragmentaires n’ont servi que de timide tentative pour contrer les effets les plus odieux de l’archaïque Loi sur les Indiens, alors que les voix gouvernementales louables, ayant fait appel à d’importantes et d’audacieuses améliorations, ont été largement ignorées. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Claire Mumme successful in defense of dissertation

Claire Mumme, co-winner of the R.Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Legal History for 2010, now of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, has successfully defended her PHD dissertation, "That Indsipensible Figment of the Legal Mind: The Contract of Employment at Common Law Ontario, 1890-1979." Congratulations, Claire!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

McMurtry Memoirs hot off the U of T Press

R. Roy McMurtry's Memoirs and Reflections has now arrived in the mailboxes of members of the Osgoode Society, or will arrive shortly. All members receive the book with their annual membership: join or renew here.
Don't be deterred by the length. The book is a hefty 640 pages, as behooves the author's long, diverse and fascinating career(s), but I found that the format of short chapters and subchapters with a very accessible index makes dipping in and out an easy and enjoyable process. The book will be officially launched with our other publications for 2013 later this fall, but don't wait until then to get started.

McNeil on the constitutional and historical context of Aboriginal rights in Canada

Kent McNeil has published "Aboriginal Rights in Canada: The Historical and Constitutional Context" in the Spring 2013 issue of the International Journal of Legal Information (the journal of the international association of law libraries.) The short-ish abstract describes what sounds like a very useful overview:

The article offers a presentation on aboriginal rights in Canada. Topics include the historical and constitutional rights of First Nations Indians of North America, the European colonization of Canada by the French and English, and the various maritime treaties involving Canada. Information is provided on the 1763 Treaty of Paris.

Note that the website of the Journal is seriously out of date--anyone searching for the article should try a law library first.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

British legal history conference to be held at Western

The University of Western Ontario is holding a conference, Law and Governance in Britain, October 25-26, with an impressive slate of historians from Canada and around the globe.

Here's the Introduction:

Law and Governance in Britain is the fourth conference on this general theme to be held at The University of Western Ontario. Over the course of two days we will hear from an international group of social historians of the law that spans the full breadth of career stages, from doctoral students through postdoctoral fellows, young and mid-career faculty and full professors. The temporal focus is on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The theme of these conferences has always been intentionally broad, with speakers asked simply to talk about whatever aspect of their research interests them most at the time. The results have proved rewarding: in 2009 policing emerged as a key topic; in 2013 the relationship between justice and the press is an evident preoccupation for many of our participants. The initial paper thus considers the current historiography relating to crime and the press; one panel concentrates on various components of the newspapers, from law reports and advertisements to letters to the editor; another panel is devoted to press coverage of famous murder trials. We expect, however, that discussion will range widely over the field, covering issues of process and procedure, content and format. Courtrooms include the King's Bench as well as the Old Bailey, and the contribution of habeas corpus to the rule of law is considered. The media theme is not limited to text, but also includes analysis of satirical prints. Recent interest in the history of the emotions is represented in our offerings and foreign nationals' experience of British justice also emerges as a subtheme.
The conference will take place in the Moot Court Room of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario. The atmosphere will be informal, with ample opportunity for discussion and conversation during breaks or over the conference lunch or Friday night dinner. Registration is available online, but will also be available on-site at the time of the conference. Space is limited at the conference dinner, however, so early booking is strongly recommended.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Complete schedule for Osgoode Legal History Group for 2013-2014

The full schedule for both halves of the academic year is now available (save for a few paper titles.) Once again, please advise Jim if you are not on the distribution list (to receive papers and notifications of any changes) but would like to be. All sessions will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Flavelle House, U of T Faculty of Law, 78 Queen's Park Cr. W. (at the Museum subway stop) unless building renovation gets in the way--Jim will let us know.

First Term

Wednesday September 11 - Ian Kyer, Fasken Martineau: “The Thirty Years War: The Legal Battles that Created the TTC 1891-1921"

Wednesday September 25 - Jordan Birenbaum, University of Toronto: “Elmer A. Driedger (1913-1985): A Biographical and Intellectual Sketch of the Father of Canadian Statutory Interpretation”.

Wednesday October 9 - Nick Rogers, York University: “Parricide in Mid-Eighteenth Century England: The cases of Mary Blandy and Elizabeth Jefferies.”

Wednesday October 23 - Jeremy Milloy, Simon Fraser University: “Windsor is 'A Very, Very Bad Place to Live if You Are Black': Workplace Violence, Race, and Radical Law in the Aftermath of Charlie Brooks's Murder”

Wednesday October 30 - Osgoode Society Book launch

Wednesday November 6 - Ubaka Ogbogu, University of Alberta: “Doctors versus Councillors: A Legal History of Smallpox Vaccination in Ontario, 1882 - 1920”

Wednesday November 20 - Mary Stokes, Osgoode Hall Law School: “Municipal Corporations in Court, 1850-1880.”

December 4 - Lori Chambers, Lakehead University: “TBA”

Second Term

Wednesday January 8 - Philip Girard, Osgoode Hall Law School: “A History of Canadian Law, Chapter 2: 1500-1701"

Wednesday January 22 - Eric Adams, University of Alberta: “TBA”

Wednesday February 5 - Maynard Maidman, York University: "The Practice of Law in Ancient Mesopotamia: Two Cases from ca. 1400-1350 B.C."

Wednesday February 12 - Bill Wicken, York University: “Residency on the Six Nations Reserve: Legal and Social issues, 1870-1920.”

Wednesday February 26 - Sally Hadden, Western Michigan University:  “TBA”

Wednesday March 12 - Tyler Wentzell, University of Toronto: “Not for King nor Country: Canada's Foreign Enlistment Act and the Spanish Civil War”

Wednesday March 26 - Don Fyson, Laval University: “TBA”

Wednesday April 9 - Bettina Bradbury, York University: “‘In the event of my said wife remaining in the colonies … all her interest in my will is to cease’: The widow Kearney contests her husband’s final wishes in colonial Victoria, Australia.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lapointe on the evolution of the free mining system in Quebec and Canada

Ugo Lapointe published "L'héritage du principe de free mining au Québec et au Canada" in Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec in 2010 (Vol. 40 issue 3: the article just surfaced on my America History & Life alert--no rhyme nor reason to the timing of these alerts, I've found.)

Here's the abstract in French, and then in English:

Le présent article s'intéresse à l'origine et à l'évolution du principe du free mining dans les régimes miniers du Québec et du Canada, ainsi qu'aux conséquences de l'appli cation de ce mode de régulation pour les citoyens, les collectivités, les entreprises minières et les autorités publiques. L'auteur argue que le free mining contribue à créer une structure de pouvoir asymétrique qui est propice à l'émergence de conflits sociaux et environnementaux. Il conclut à la nécessité de revoir les régimes miniers basés sur le principe du free mining et identifie sommairement des orientations possibles à cet égard.
This article portrays the origins and evolution of free mining regimes in Québec and in Canada, as well as the consequences of these mining regulations for people, communities, mining companies, and public authorities. The author argues that free mining regimes distort power relations which contribute to social and environmental conflicts. In conclusion, he proposes reviewing mining regulations based on the free mining regime and sketches out possible alternatives.

Clément on Legacies and Implications of Canadian Human Rights Laws

Also appearing in the spring 2013 Canadian Issues / Thèmes Canadiens (Federalism and Identities) is Dominique Clément, "Legacies and Implications of Human Rights Law in Canada."

Here's the abstract:

The following article traces the historical evolution of human rights in law, political culture, social movements and foreign policy in Canada. It also documents the remarkable diversity of rights-claims by drawing on opinion polls, newspaper coverage and position papers of non-governmental organizations. Canadians' conceptions of rights have expanded so fast – and in such a short period of time – that human rights commissions are struggling to adapt. As a result, there is a backlash against human rights laws that threatens to undermine the system. 

Oliver on Canadian Legal Federalism since 1982

Peter Oliver (not the one Canadian legal historians are most familiar with!) has published an article, "Canadian legal federalism since 1982" in Canadian Issues/Themes Canadiens (Federalism and Identies Issue.)

Here's the abstract:

This article considers the evolution of legal federalism over the past 30 years. It observes that since 1982 we have seen: considerable stability in the interpretation of heads of power; a judicial policy of cooperative federalism whereby both federal and provincial legislatures are afforded considerable room to legislate; an enduring interjurisdictional immunity rule that is weaker and narrower in its application; and a conflict rule that grants federal paramountcy under narrowly construed terms. By way of counterpoint to enduring federal paramountcy we have seen: broad federal powers such as Criminal Law and General Regulation of Trade and Commerce interpreted less expansively; the ancillary doctrine applied more rigorously; and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms used to limit federal paramountcy where other rules of legal federalism do not necessarily avail.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Legal History Group Fall Schedule 2013

Here is the schedule for the for the fall 2013 term for the Osgoode Legal History Group (formerly the Toronto Legal History Group) for those who aren't on the distribution list (you can get on the list by emailing or for those who don't want to search their old emails during the term. Just use the search box at the top of the blog with "schedule" or "Legal History Group" or similar keywords.)
Note that we have an open slot this term, November 6th. Jim advises that there are two open slots next term, January 8th and February 26th. If you have a paper you would like to workshop, please email Jim. The group is very flexible about who and what qualifies: either you are from southern Ontario or will be passing through, and the subject is academic legal history. Any jurisdiction or time period is eligible. Faculty members, graduate students and independent scholars are all welcome as presenters. And anyone who is interested in the subject or in a particular paper or author can attend. Again, email Jim or just show up.
All sessions are from 6:30 pm to about 8:30 pm, on the first floor of Flavelle House, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, unless otherwise advised (by email and on this blog.) The book launch is held at Osgoode Hall--there will be details forthcoming on the society website.

Wednesday September 11 - Ian Kyer, Fasken Martineau: "The Thirty Years War: The Legal Battles that Created the TTC 1891-1921"

Wednesday September 25 - Jordan Birenbaum, University of Toronto: "TBA"

Wednesday October 9 - Nick Rogers, York Universdity: "Parricide in Mid-Eighteenth Century England: The cases of Mary Blandy and Elizabeth Jefferies."

Wednesday October 23 - Jeremy Milloy, Simon Fraser University: "Windsor is 'A Very, Very Bad Place to Live if You Are Black': Workplace Violence, Race, and Radical Law in the Aftermath of Charlie Brooks's Murder"

Wednesday October 30 - Osgoode Society Book launch

Wednesday November 6 -  AVAILABLE

Wednesday November 20 - Mary Stokes, Osgoode Hall Law School: "Municipal Corporations in Court, 1850-1880."

December 4 - Lori Chambers, Lakehead University: "TBA"

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hoffman on Anti Combine Act of 1889 on SSRN

Charles Paul Hoffman has posted another article on SSRN. This one is with the accepted paper series.

"A Re-appraisal of the Canadian Anti-Combines Act of 1889" will appear in The Queen's Law Journal.


In 1889, in response to growing concern about the role of cartels and other "combines" in the economy, the Canadian parliament passed the Anti-Combines Act, the world’s first modern competition statute. A tentative first step, the Act made it a misdemeanour to enter into agreements that were previously unenforceable under the contract law restraint of trade doctrine. The Act, however, was not a success, with only a single prosecution (which resulted in acquittal) brought under it prior to its amendment in 1900. Since that time, it has been broadly criticized in the academic literature, with critics alleging three reasons for its failure: that it extended only to conduct already "unlawful" under the restraint of trade doctrine; that it criminalized only conduct already indictable under the crime of conspiracy; and that it was an intentional failure, a "political sham". Each of these critiques, however, is built on a flawed understanding of the restraint of trade doctrine, reading back into the law in 1889 two House of Lords’ decisions from the 1890s, Mogul Steamship v McGregor, Gow (1892) and Nordenfelt v Maxim Nordenfelt Guns & Ammunition (1894), which made it substantially more difficult to prove agreements were unreasonable vis-a-vis the public interest. Though the Act would not have been the panacea intended by its chief sponsor, Nathaniel Clarke Wallace, it would have been a useful tool against the most pernicious of combine agreements, had the law remained as it was at the time of enactment. The Anti-Combines Act should thus be remembered not for its failure, but as a Canadian legislative innovation hampered by judicial decisions rendered in Westminster.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cavanagh on comparative Aboriginal Land Rights on SSRN

Ed Cavanagh, one of the current Osgoode Society McMurtry Fellows, has posted a working paper

Land Rights that Come with Cut-Off Dates: A Comparative Reflection on Restitution, Aboriginal Title, and Historical Injustice 

on SSRN.

Here's the abstract:

The doctrine of aboriginal title allows for a distinct form of redress, empowering communities to use the judiciary to take action against the state for foundational acts of historical dispossession. It has not taken root in South Africa, yet in other former settler colonies of the British Empire, it remains important to this day. This article interrogates history and law to explain why this is the case. Such an approach allows for a critical reflection on the system of land restitution that developed in South Africa instead of aboriginal title. by exploring the past and present realities of ‘dispossession’ in South Africa, this article discredits the inclusion of cut-off dates in the Restitution of Land Rights Act. These dates have discriminated between claimant communities irrationally and insensitively – even racially. History should not be mobilised in statute law to obstruct the pathway to redress. It should, instead, be used positively to restore the rights of those formerly dispossessed, and to preserve the rights of those facing dispossessions pending, in South Africa.