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Friday, February 19, 2016

Osgoode Society News: Titles for 2016 announced, with choice of Members' Book for first time!

It is time to renew your membership in the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. By joining you show your support for the most successful legal history organization in the common law world. 

Join via our website, On the home page, at the top right hand corner, click on BECOME A MEMBER TODAY and follow the instructions.

NEW POLICY for members' book

We are inaugurating a new policy with regard to our members’ book. In 2016 members may choose the book they receive with their membership from one of two books. The two books are:

Lori Chambers, A History of Adoption Law in Ontario, 1921-2015 (University of Toronto Press)

Bradley Miller, Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914. (University of Toronto Press)

When renewing your membership, or joining for the first time, be sure to indicate what your selection is by checking the appropriate box.

Here is a description of each book.  

Lori Chambers, A History of Adoption Law in Ontario, 1921-2015 (University of Toronto Press). Lori Chambers, Professor at Lakehead University, has written two previous books for the Osgoode Society. Her latest contribution traces the history of adoption law in Ontario from 1921, when the first Adoption Act was passed, to the present. She details the origins and passage of that legislation and then examines a series of legal changes and accompanying controversies, from debates about the meaning of consent by birth mothers to same-sex adoption. Many of these controversies – adoption of aboriginal children, international adoption, secrecy in adoption records - have emerged in the last few decades, and this is therefore very much a ‘modern’ history of adoption law. In analyzing the development of the law Chambers skilfully weaves together statutes and cases with extra-legal debates over the meaning of parental and childrens’ rights.  

Bradley Miller, Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914. (University of Toronto Press). Bradley Miller, Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, has written the first comprehensive history of cross-border Canadian-American interactions in relation to fugitive criminals, escaped slaves, and refugees. Miller examines the complexity of those interactions, which involved formal legal regimes governed by treaties as well as informal and extra legal phenomena such as abductions and ground-level ‘customary’ co-operation between low-level officials. All of this is set against the background of a developing international law and evolving ideas about extradition in other parts of the British empire.    


This year we are offering two optional extras.

First, members must choose one of the two books discussed above as part of their membership. Whichever one you choose, they may also opt to purchase the other as an ‘optional extra.’

Second, our additional optional extra this year is Law, Debt and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax, by James Muir, Professor of Law and History, University of Alberta, published by the University of Toronto Press. This is a path-breaking study of the every-day work of civil law and civil courts. It examines the type of litigation pursued (mostly debt), how the courts worked, and how the economy operated in a society with very little cash and in which credit was the lifeblood of commerce. Muir employs both quantitative and qualitative analyses of all extant case files and explains how eighteenth-century court procedure worked. He situates his study against the society and economy of Halifax, analyzing who sued who and why and how the legal system fit into patterns of economic relations and activity.

IF YOU WISH TO RECEIVE one or both of the optional extras, please indicate so on the form below if you choose that method of renewing your membership, and you will be billed when it appears. You may also order and pay now for the optional extras on our website when you renew your membership that way.

Thank for very much your interest in, and support of, the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. If you have any questions please email Jim Phillips at

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