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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Prize winners announced at Osgoode Society AGM

The annual general meeting of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History was held this evening at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. Thanks to the Law Society of Upper Canada for hosting the meeting and reception.

The president of the society, Roy McMurtry, chaired the meeting, the treasurer, C. Ian Kyer, reported on the society's finances, and the editor-in-chief, Jim Phillips reported on the publications for the year and the oral history project. The meeting was addressed by historian Chris Moore, whose history of the court of appeal for Ontario is the Society's members' book for 2014.

Two prizes were awarded (the Society's third prize, the John Saywell prize is awarded in alternate years.)

Congratulations to Peter Price, a doctoral student in history at Queen's University, who was awarded the prestigious R.Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Canadian Legal History for 2014-2015. The fellowship will support his research into the public careers of two late nineteenth/early twentieth century Toronto lawyers. Here's an excerpt from the winning proposal:
Lawyers and the Pursuit of “A More Healthy Public Feeling:” The Legal Careers of Edward Meek and Edward Douglas Armour

At the turn of the twentieth century, as immigration to Canada rapidly expanded and as the franchise grew to include more voting citizens, numerous legal professionals became preoccupied with the protection of what they saw as the “public good.” In many ways, the didactic mission of certain lawyers to safeguard particular visions of democracy became a defining element of legal culture in Canada at that time. Why did lawyers become prominent participants in efforts to improve civic and legal literacy? How did they define the idea of “public good”? How did they envision the role of law in supporting or defining ideas of public good?

To help answer these questions, this study will examine the careers of two prominent
Toronto-based lawyers, Edward Meek (1845-1925) and Edward Douglas Armour (1851-
1922), both of whom were prominent within the legal profession and in the wider public. In reaction to the increasing professionalization and specialization of law, they shared the belief that lawyers had a duty to reach out to public audiences. Their extensive public writings were motivated to a large degree by their belief that democracy and the rule of law depended on a citizenry informed on matters of law and constitutionalism. Using these two lawyers as case studies, this project will examine the relationship between legal professionals and the promotion of particular understandings of democracy and “public good.”

The Peter Oliver Prize for published work in Canadian legal history by a student was awarded to Mary Stokes for her chapter, "Grand Juries and 'Proper Authorities:' Low Law, Soft Law and Local Governance in Canada West/Ontario, 1850-1880, which appeared in  Essays in the History of Canadian Law volume 11, Quebec and the Canadas, edited by Donald Fyson and G.Blaine Baker.

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