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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Torrie, "Farm Debt Compromises During the Great Depression: An Empirical Study of Applications made under the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act in Morden and Brandon, Manitoba" on SSRN

Virginia Torrie of the University of Manitoba Law School has posted "Farm Debt Compromises During the Great Depression: An Empirical Study of Applications made under the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act in Morden and Brandon, Manitoba" on SSRN. The article also appears in volume 41, issue 1 (2018) of the Manitoba Law Journal. [This journal is open access.]

This article presents the results of an empirical study of the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act (FCAA) in Morden and Brandon, Manitoba. Parliament enacted this federal insolvency statute to address the agricultural crisis of the 1930s colloquially known as the “Dust Bowl”. The express purpose of the Act was to “keep the farmer on the farm” by reducing debts to an amount that the farmer could afford to pay. This is the first article to engage in a substantive analysis of the FCAA, and it employs a novel methodology for studying farm debt compromises under the Act. This study uncovers notable differences in the way that FCAA applications played out in Morden and Brandon. It reveals that much farm credit was obtained locally, with roughly half of all claims being owed to individuals or estates, which in many instances were the mortgage lender. In addition, medical debts listed the FCAA files call attention to the privation of the “Dirty Thirties” and the financial costs born by individuals for medical care in the pre-public health care era. The empirical findings of this study thus add to historical scholarship about the experience of the Great Depression on the Canadian Prairies by shedding light on the social context of debtor-creditor relations in farming communities, and highlighting regional variations in the application of a federal law designed to help address the farm debt crisis.

Call for presenters: Osgoode Society Toronto Legal History workshop Fall term

Jim Phillips advises that he has four sessions lined up with presenters for the fall for the legal history workshop.
We still have some spots open.
If you, or some one you know, is an academic (any department) either a faculty member, independent scholar or grad student, who is studying a legal history topic (also any geographic area and time period) who would be interested in presenting a work-in-progress to the legal history workshop (held at U of T Law School every other Wednesday evening--more or less) please email Jim at
And anyone who would like to receive the papers and attend some or any sessions, please also email Jim to be added to the distribution list.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Gordon Bale

Gordon Bale, a longstanding member of the Osgoode Society and contributor to Canadian legal history, has died at the age of 85. After doing graduate work in economics and teaching in that field at RMC, he obtained a law degree from the newly founded Queen’s University Faculty of Law. Gordon returned there as a professor and spent the rest of his academic career at Queen’s, where he specialized in wills and estates and created a seminar in legal history. His biography of Canada’s second chief justice, William Johnstone Ritchie, published by Carleton University Press in 1990, was a precursor of the wave of judicial biographies that would appear in Canada in the 21st century.  Gordon was a kind and gentle scholar whose presence will be missed.

(Thanks to Philip Girard)