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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.