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Monday, April 24, 2017

Hot Docs honours 35th anniversary of the Charter with free event, April 29th

Hot Docs is honouring the 35th anniversary of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms with a very special event.

The Charter at 35
On Saturday, April 29, we invite you to join former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Mr. Ian Binnie and Maclean’s Ottawa Bureau Chief John Geddes for an invigorating conversation about Canada’s Charter and how it impacts pressing issues facing Canadians today.  The discussion will be followed by an exclusive sneak peek of In the Name of All Canadians, Hot Docs’ feature compilation of short films about the Charter, funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

Tickets: FREE
Date: Sat, Apr 29, 1:00 PM

Deadline extended for Osgoode Society awards to May 7

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History administers three awards: John T. Saywell Prize for Canadian Constitutional Legal History, R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Canadian Legal History, and the Peter Oliver Prize for Published Student writing in Canadian Legal History . We invite nominations and applications for each of these. The original deadline for each was April 30, 2017, but we have extended that to May 7, 2017.
John T. Saywell Prize for Canadian Constitutional Legal History
The Saywell Prize is given bi-annually to the best new book in Canadian legal history, broadly defined, that makes an important contribution to an understanding of the constitution and/or federalism. In exceptional circumstances, the jury could also consider a seminal article or series of articles, some of the latter not written in the two-year period, to satisfy the objectives of the award.
Jack Saywell died in April 2011, still working on the history of federalism. His family has requested that any donations be made to the Saywell Prize or another charity of the donor’s choice. Those wishing to donate to the prize may do by sending a cheque to The Osgoode Society, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto M5H 2N6. Cheques should be made payable to the Society and marked as contributions to the Saywell Prize. For further information please contact the Society at
The Saywell Prize will next be awarded in 2017, for a book published in 2015 or 2016. Publishers or others who wish to nominate a book for the Saywell Prize in 2017 should send three copies of the book to: The Osgoode Society, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, M5H 2N6. The deadline for nominations for 2017 is May 7, 2017.
R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Legal History
The R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in 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, formerly both 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 was established by Chief Justice McMurtry’s friends and colleagues, and endowed by private donations and the Law Foundation of Ontario.
The fellowship 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 2017 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, The deadline for applications is May 7, 2017.

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 2017 Prize, to be awarded for work published in 2016, is May 7, 2017.
Please send nominations to Amanda Campbell, Oliver Prize Selection Committee, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, M5H 2N6, or

Professor Jim Phillips
Faculty of Law & Dept of History
University of Toronto
Editor-in-Chief, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Persons Case by Sharpe and McMahon in UTP Canada150 collection

The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal PersonhoodThe University of Toronto Press is promoting a "Canada 150" collection, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of confederation. One of the thirty books so honoured is The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal Personhood by Mr. Justice Robert Sharpe and Patricia McMahon.

The U of T press has this to say about the collection:

In honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial, University of Toronto Press is proud to introduce the Canada 150 Collection, a special selection of outstanding books published over the years that bear witness to the depth and breadth of the nation’s history and the diversity of its peoples. These books showcase remarkable achievements as well as uncomfortable truths in Canada’s history, from pre-Confederation to the present. This carefully curated collection includes classic works of cultural, historical, legal, and literary scholarship that have informed and shaped Canada as a nation. A testament to University of Toronto Press’s longstanding commitment to authoritative and boundary-pushing scholarship, the Canada 150 Collection presents works that are essential reading for students, scholars, and anyone with an interest in Canada’s past and future.

The Persons Case was published by the University of Toronto Press in conjunction with the Osgoode Society in 2007.  This is what the society has to say:

The Persons’ Case is one of the best known Canadian constitutional cases, both for the fact that it declared women to be ‘persons’ for the purposes of eligibility for Senate appointment, and for Lord Sankey’s invocation of the living tree metaphor in interpreting the constitution. Robert Sharpe and Patricia McMahon add enormously to our understanding of the case by a detailed exploration of its context. They analyse the campaign for the recognition of women as senators in both political and legal circles, and they examine the background and personalities of the major players in the litigation, in particular Lord Sankey, Prime Minister Mackenzie King, and Emily Murphy. Murphy, one of the ‘famous five’ litigants, was the driving force behind the demand for legal recognition, and she is shown here to be a fascinating and complex individual.

Reviewers say: 
One of the most compelling reasons to read The Persons Case is to find out what drove the women known as the Famous Five to fight to open the Senate's doors. Readers also discover why the verdict remains one of the most important constitutional decisions in Canadian history..... [A] gripping drama in which the fitness of women's appointment to the Senate is merely the backdrop.... Reading history should always be this much fun. Penni Mitchell, The Beaver, June-July 2008
There is much that is engaging in this account of the Persons case, particularly in relation to the five women who requested the constitutional reference, and the behind the scenes political manoeuvres of Prime Minister Mackenzie King and his advisors... In addition the study situates the case within the ongoing tensions with respect to constitutional interpretation between judges in the Supreme Court of Canada on one hand and in the Privy Council on the other. Mary Jane Mossman, Ottawa Law Review, vol 40, 2009
Working closely from the archival record, Robert J. Sharpe and Patricia I. McMahon place the [Persons] case in its political, constitutional and personal context .... [A] valuable contribution to Canadian constitutional history. Lyndsay Campbell, Law and History Review, vol 27, 2009.


  • Alison J. Fingas, Saskatchewan Law Review, Vol. 71, 2008, pp. 424-425.
  • Jennifer Koshan, Canadian Journal of Women and Law, Vol. 20, 2008, pp. 343-351.
  • Francis C. Muldoon, Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law, Vol. 3, 2010, pp. 545-552.
  • Colleen Sheppard, McGill Law Journal, Vol. 53, 2008, pp. 367-373.
  • Janneke Lewis, Advocate, Vol. 66, 2008, pp. 814-815.
  • Christopher Moore, ‘New book authoritative telling of Persons Case,’ Law Times, November 12, 2007.
  • Tracey Tyler, ‘The mothers of Canadian equality,’ The Toronto Star, October 20, 2007, Sec ID, p. 4.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Forthcoming from UTP: Dodek, The Charter Debates: The Special Joint Committee on The Constitution, 1980-81 and the Making of the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms

Forthcoming from UTP (available for pre-order) The Charter Debates: The Special Joint Committee on The Constitution, 1980-81 and the Making of the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms by Adam Dodek:

The Charter Debates: The Special Joint Committee on the Constitution, 1980-81 and the Making of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms may only be thirty-five years old but it is an important document for all Canadians. Few today, however, are aware of the extensive work and tumultuous debates that occurred behind the scenes.
In The Charter Debates, Adam Dodek tells the story of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution, whose members were instrumental in drafting the Charter. Dodek places the work of the Joint Committee against the backdrop of the decades-long process of patriation and takes the reader inside the committee room, giving them access to Cabinet discussions about constitutional reform. The volume offers a textual exploration of the edited proceedings concerning major Charter subjects such as fundamental freedoms, democratic rights, equality rights, language rights, and the limitations clause.
Presenting key moments from the transcripts, carefully selected and contextualized, The Charter Debates is a one-of-a-kind resource for scholars, students, and general readers interested in the Charter and its impact on constitutional politics in Canada.

Coming from UTP: Roots of Entanglement: Essays in the History of Native Newcomer Relations

Coming in January 2018 (available for pre-order) from U of T Press:

Roots of Entanglement: Essays in the History of Native Newcomer Relations, edited by Myra Rutherdale, Whitney Lackenbauer, and Kerry Abel.

Canadian legal historians will be interested in Part IV, Law, Legislation, and History, including the following:

They Have Suffered the Most: First Nations and the Aftermath of the 1885 North-West Rebellion, Bill Waiser
“Powerless To Protect”: Ontario Game Protection Legislation, Unreported and Indetermined Case Law, and the Criminalization of Indian Hunting in the Robinson Treaty Territories, 1892-1931, Frank Tough
One Good Thing: Law and Elevator Etiquette in the Indian Territories, Hamar Foster
Reclaiming History through the Courts: Aboriginal Rights, the Marshall Decision, and Maritime History, Kenneth S. Coates

Friday, April 14, 2017

CFP: ASLH Student Colloquium at 2017 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas

via H-Law:

CFP: ASLH Student Research Colloquium on Wednesday before 2017 ASLH Annual Meeting in Las Vegas

by Charles Zelden
The American Society for Legal History will host a Student Research Colloquium (SRC) on Wednesday, October 25, and Thursday, October 26, 2017, immediately preceding the ASLH’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The SRC enables a small number of Ph.D. students and law students to discuss their in-progress dissertations and law review articles with distinguished ASLH-affiliated scholars.
The SRC’s target audience includes early-post-coursework graduate students and historically minded law students.  The colloquium seeks to introduce such students to legal history, to each other, to the ASLH, and to the legal-historical scholarly community generally.  Students working in all chronological and geographical fields are encouraged to apply, as are students whose projects engage legal-historical themes but who have not yet received any formal training in legal history.  Applicants who have not had an opportunity to present their work at ASLH annual meetings or who have not otherwise had an opportunity to discuss their work with legal historians are particularly encouraged to apply.  A student may be on the program for the annual meeting and participate in the SRC in the same year.
Each participating student will pre-circulate a twenty-page, double-spaced, footnoted paper to the entire group.  The group will discuss these papers at the colloquium, under the guidance of two faculty directors.  The ASLH will provide at least partial and, in most cases, total reimbursement for travel, hotel, and conference-registration costs.
The application deadline is July 15, 2017.  Applicants should submit:
  • a cover letter;
  • a CV;
  • a two-page, single-spaced “research statement,” describing an in-progress project; and
  • a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, sent separately from, or together with, the other materials.
Organizers will notify all applicants of their decisions by August 15, 2017.  Please direct questions and applications to John Wertheimer at:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Linda Silver Dranoff, Fairly Equal: Lawyering the Feminist Revolution

New from Second Story Press and the Feminist History Society, Fairly Equal: Lawyering the Feminist Revolution by Linda Silver Dranoff.

The publisher's blurb:

An eyewitness account of the revolution in women’s rights under the law.

SSP01 - Fairly Equal Selected.inddLawyer, activist, and former Chatelaine legal columnist Linda Silver Dranoff details her own trailblazing journey from a traditional 1950s childhood to the battlegrounds of the courts of law and the halls of power where she and a generation of women lawyers, supporting a larger feminist movement, championed the rights of Canadian women and families.
Through a combination of memoir and social history, Dranoff brings to life the struggles around family law, pay and employment equity, violence against women, abortion rights, childcare, pension rights, political engagement, public policy, and access to legal justice. From backroom battles to public and private protest, the stories are inspiring.
Fairly Equal reminds us of the importance of remaining vigilant about our rights. Knowing what Dranoff’s generation of women lawyers and activists achieved, and how easily it can be taken away, we are encouraged in sisterhood and solidarity to ensure that the many hard-won gains of the feminist movement are maintained and expanded for the women who follow.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Public Lecture: Chris Moore, Ten Events in Canadian Law that one should know

Christopher Moore will speak on

"Ten Events in Canadian Law that one should know" at the Deer Park Public Library, Toronto on May 23rd

From the Toronto Public Libary website:
Tue May 23, 2017
6:30 p.m. - 7:45 p.m.
75 mins
Deer Park Program Room - 2nd Floor
Christopher Moore, "Ten Events in Canadian Law that Canadians should know" From the British North America Act to the Charter of Rights, Christopher Moore will explore moments in Canadian law that have defined our rights, our freedoms, and our obligations to each other.
Christopher Moore is Canada's most versatile writer of history.

Ticketed event. Call or pick up in person. May 20