Search This Blog

Friday, December 11, 2015

Winter term schedule, Osgoode Society Legal History Group, Toronto

Please note that there are dates open. If you would like to present, please email Jim Phillips at


Wednesday January 20 - Michel Morin, University of Montreal: “The Recognition of Aboriginal Property and Territories in New France”

Wednesday March 2 – Kevin Crosby, University of Newcastle-on-Tyne: “Female Jurors in the English Assize Courts, 1920-1925”

Wednesday March 16 – Ryan Alford, Lakehead University: this "Understanding Judicial Tolerance of Executive Branch Unilateralism: Changing Dynamics in the American Federal Judicial Appointments Process 1972-2010"

Wednesday March 30 - Karen MacFarlane, York University, ‘Selling protections against arrest: Pushing and creating the limits of diplomatic immunity in the eighteenth century.’  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

CFP: ASLH annual meeting October 2016 (in Toronto)

Hello Canadian Legal Historians,
As many of you will know, the next annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History will be taking place in Toronto next fall. Here's the call for papers. We hope to see as many of you as possible there, whether presenting or just attending.

2016 Annual Meeting Call for Proposals
The 2016 annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History will take place in Toronto, Canada, October 27 – October 30, 2016. The Program Committee invites proposals on any facet or period of legal history, anywhere in the world. We also strongly encourage thematic proposals that range across traditional chronological or geographical fields.
Travel grants (covering airfare and ground transportation only) will be available for presenters in need, who must first seek support from their home institution. These resources are limited, and will be given only to presenters traveling from abroad, graduate students, post-docs, and independent scholars.
The Program Committee welcomes proposals for both full panels and individual papers, though please note that individual papers are less likely to be accepted. The Committee encourages the submission of a variety of different types of panel proposals, including: traditional 3-paper panels (with a separate chair-commentator); incomplete panels lacking either one paper or a chair-commentator (whether 2-paper panels with a chair-commentator, or 3-paper panels without a chair-commentator), which the Committee will try to complete; author-meets-reader panels; and roundtable discussions.
All panel proposals should include the following:
  • A single page listing the panel title, the titles of each paper, complete contact information for each presenter (including chair-commentator), and any special scheduling requests. (Note that we may not be able to accommodate all scheduling requests.)
  • a 300-word description of the panel
  • a c.v. for each presenter
  • for paper-based panels only: a 300-word abstract of each paper
Individual paper proposals should include:
  • a short (3 page) c.v. for each presenter (including complete contact information)
  • a 300-word abstract of the paper
Please note that AV equipment/PowerPoint capabilities will not be available.
The deadline for submitting proposals is March 15, 2016. Proposals should be sent as email attachments to  Substantive questions should also be directed to the Program Committee co-chairs, Bethany Berger and Victor Uribe, at

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CFP: Symposium on Founding Moments in Constitutionalism (via Legal History Blog)

The conference will be at the Yale Law School, April 15-16, 2016.

Via Dan Ernst at the Legal History Blog.

CFP: Symposium on Founding Moments in Constitutionalism

Founding moments are landmark events that break ties with the ancien regime and lay the foundation for the establishment of modern states. Founding moments shape national law, influence surrounding countries, establish future power structures and legitimize certain political institutions within the country.

But what exactly is a founding moment? When do we know the “founding” process is over and when do we know it is ongoing? Is it possible to have a founding moment without a new constitution? It is not always easy to identify and define founding moments. The establishment of a new constitutional identity is almost never encompassed in one event—and may span decades in the form of anti-colonial movements, revolutions, civil wars, legitimation crises, power struggles and consolidation processes.

Founding moments sometimes endow certain elements in society—such as revolutionary parties or political leaders—with political legitimacy. A key line of inquiry therefore concerns the relationship between founding moments and “founding figures,” and the extent to which the future of a nation should be guided by the intentions of those who orchestrated these founding moments.

Founding moments moreover are not always a single moment. How does a revolution relate to and influence the promulgation of the constitution? How does the promulgation of the constitution trigger crises in the consolidation process? Is there some danger to the revolutionary fervor being entrenched in words, symbolism and structures in a country’s written constitution?

We might also consider the phenomenon of unfinished foundings, which occur when revolutionary groups overthrow a dictator but not the entire “old guard.” To what extent is an event a founding moment if it is a partial or an unfinished revolution? How do such unfinished foundations influence the identity of the country?

Alexander Herzen described revolutions and national foundings as “pregnant widows”:
The death of contemporary forms of social organization should gladden rather than oppress the soul. But what’s frightening is that the departing world leaves not an heir but a pregnant widow. Between the death of one and the birth of the other much time will go by, a long night of chaos and desolation will have to pass.

Some though not all founding moments occur at tumultuous times in a country’s history. They are bloody revolutions, fierce anti-colonial struggles and decades-long political upheavals. Countries undergoing founding moments—“pregnant widows” in Herzens words—should not be studied only as historical events but also as modern realities that influence and indeed often drive our understanding of law. From Egypt, Libya, Iraq to Nepal, countries around the world are undergoing the birth pangs of founding, constitution and reconstitution—they are waging civil wars, mounting revolutions and writing constitutions.

This conference on founding moments in constitutionalism is an opportunity to address this phenomenon and how it relates to our understanding of law.

Submissions are invited from scholars of all ranks, including doctoral students.

The Convenors intend to publish the papers in an edited book or in a special issue of a law journal. An invitation to participate in this Symposium will be issued to a participant on the following conditions: (1) the participant agrees to submit an original, unpublished paper ranging between 8,000 and 11,000 words consistent with the submission guidelines issued by the Symposium Convenors; (2) the participant agrees to submit a pre-Symposium draft March 30, 2016; and (3) the participant agrees to submit a full post-Symposium final draft by September 1, 2016.

Submission Instructions
Interested scholars should email biographical information and an abstract of no more than 500 words by Monday, December 21, 2015 to Nishchal Basnyat ( on the understanding that the abstract will form the basis of the pre-Symposium working draft of a minimum of 3000 words to be submitted by Monday, March 30, 2016. Scholars should identify their submission with the following subject line: “Yale Law School—Abstract Submission—Founding Moments.”

Successful applicants will be notified no later than January 15, 2016.

There are no costs to participate in this Symposium. Successful applicants are responsible for securing their own funding for travel.  Arrangements will be made for a special rate at a local hotel.

Please direct inquiries in connection with this Symposium to:
Richard Albert
Associate Professor, Boston College Law School
Visiting Associate Professor, Yale Law School

Menaka Guruswamy
Yale Law School

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Canadian Journal of Law and Society: call for proposals for special issue

Legal historians take note--wouldn't it be great to have a legal history special issue?

Canadian Journal of Law and Society Revue Canadienne Droit et Société VOLUME 32 (2017) DUE DECEMBER 1, 2015 The  Editorial  Board  of  CJLS/RCDS  is  seeking  proposals  for  the  2017  special edition of the Journal (Volume 32.2) for publication in the summer of 2017.  CJLS/RCDS  is  an  interdisciplinary,  peer­ reviewed journal  which  produces  research dealing with law and its social and cultural context. 
The annual thematic special issue, curated by guest editors, is selected by the Editorial Board in February 2016. Each issue explores its theme across a range  of genres, with scholarly essays and articles.  
Proposals by potential guest editors should comply with CJLS/RCDS Submission  Guidelines  and Special  Issue Guidelines  aimed at assisting  those  interested  in  submitting  manuscripts  to  CJLS/RCDS.  Both  Guidelines  can  be  found  at   Proposals should be emailed to by December 1, 2015. 
For  further information on the Journal, including the role of guest editors, and general  information on the publication process, and the journal  style guide, please  visit  the website If  you  have  any  questions  or  concerns,  please  do  not  hesitate  to  contact  the  Managing Editor, Dr. Dale Spencer.  Professor Dale Spencer  Managing Editor CJLS/RCDS  Department of Law and Legal Studies Carleton University 1125 Colonel By Drive Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6 Canada Email: 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Philip Girard elected to board of ASLH

Philip Girard of Osgoode Hall Law School (and Associate Editor of the Osgoode Society) was elected to the board of the American Society for Legal History at the annual meeting of the society recently held in Washington. Philip will serve for a three year term.

Congratulations Philip!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Four new books launched by Osgoode Society

A reception was held at Osgoode Hall in Toronto this evening to launch the Society's four publications for 2015. Remember, the member's book comes free with your membership. This year's member's book is Security, Dissent and the Limits of Toleration in War and Peace: Canadian State Trials Volume IV, 1914-1939 (details below.) All of our books make great presents for the legally, historically or legal-historically minded people on your list. Many of our back titles are also available for purchase.

The 2015 books are:

Law and Life at Red River: The General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia 1844-1872

By Dale Gibson, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Manitoba.
The General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia can justly be called the first ‘British’ court in western Canada. Although there were predecessor institutions and judicial arrangements for hearing criminal and civil cases, the establishment of the Quarterly Court in the 1830s put the administration of justice in the Red River region on a firm and regularised footing.
Professor Gibson’s comprehensive history of the Court weaves together the legal history of Red River with its social, economic, and political history. At the centre piece of this book sits the complete court proceedings of the General Quarterly Court from 1844 until 1872, which are examined in detail and in context to provide a compelling narrative of the administration of substantial rather than formal justice in a Company community.

A Thirty Years War: The Failed Public/Private Partnership that Spurred the Creation of the Toronto Transit Commission, 1891-1921

by Ian Kyer, Independent Historian. Published by Irwin Law.
The thirty year franchise granted by the City of Toronto to the privately owned Toronto Railway Company in 1891 brought the City a modern electric streetcar system.  But the city and its private sector transit provider never learned to work together.   Their relationship was marred by almost constant conflict and confrontation that resulted in numerous court battles.  Fourteen times these court battles ended up at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.  This book details these legal disputes, and will be of interest not only to legal historians but also to those interested in transit and municipal history.

Security, Dissent and the Limits of Toleration in War and Peace: Canadian State Trials Volume IV, 1914-1939

Edited by Barry Wright, Department of Law, Carleton University, Eric Tucker, Osgoode Hall Law School, andSusan Binnie, Independent Historian, published by the University of Toronto Press.
canadian-state-trialsThis latest collection in our State Trials series, the fourth, looks at the legal issues raised by the repression of dissent from the outset of World War One through the 1930s and the Great Depression. Topics covered include enemy aliens, conscription and courts-martial in World War I, the trials following the Winnipeg General Strike, sedition laws and prosecutions generally and their application to labour radicals in particular, the 1931 trial of the Communist Party leaders, and the religious-political dissent of the Doukhobors. All regions of the country are covered, and special attention given in one essay to Quebec’s repression of radicalism.
The volume focusses attention on older manifestations of contemporary dilemmas: what are the acceptable limits of dissent in a democracy, and what limits should be placed on state responses to perceived challenges to its authority.

“Honorary Protestants”: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997

By David Fraser, Professor of Law, University of Nottingham, published by the University of Toronto Press.
honorary-protestantsSection 93 of the Constitution Act 1867 guaranteed certain educational rights to Catholics and Protestants in Quebec, but not to anybody else. This study of the challenges, legal and otherwise, encountered by Jewish parents in educating their children in Montreal in the shadow of s. 93, will undoubtedly become the standard work on the subject. Faced with alternating periods of hostility and tolerance, the Jewish community of Montreal carved out an educational modus vivendi based on complex and continuing negotiations with the Protestant and Catholic school boards, the provincial government, and individual municipalities. Divisions within the Jewish community itself, with different groups alternating between cooperation and militancy, only added to this complexity. In the face of the constitution’s exclusionary language, all parties engaged in modes of informal normative ordering that were at times frankly unconstitutional, but unavoidable if Jewish children were to have access to public schools.  Bargaining in the shadow of the law, the parties made their own constitution long before the constitutional amendment of 1997 finally put an end to the Jewish school question.

Monday, November 2, 2015

New from MQUP: The Constitutions that Shaped Us

The Constitutions that Shaped Us

The Constitutions that Shaped Us: A Historical Anthology of Pre-1867 Canadian Constitutions

Publisher's blurb:

The Constitutions that Shaped Us re-examines from a comparative and critical standpoint the events, key players, and texts which, taken together, help to interpret all Canadian constitutions prior to Confederation. The key constitutional documents that are studied in this book are the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Quebec Act of 1774, the Constitutional Act of 1791, and the 1840 Act of Union. Great Canadian historians of the past take turns in providing unforgettable sketches and understandings of the actions of monumental figures such as Governors Murray, Carleton, and Elgin, British politicians from Pitt to Burke, Grey, and Durham, without forgetting the leading political and intellectual colonial figures such as Bédard, Papineau, La Fontaine, Mackenzie, and Baldwin.

Gathering together the most renowned and representative works of constitutional scholarship, this anthology provides readers with an in-depth account of the events that would ultimately lead to the union of British colonies, the birth of the Dominion of Canada, and the rebirth of political autonomy in a colony known successively as Quebec, Lower Canada, Canada East, and once again Quebec in 1867. Following a general survey of the various constitutions enacted under British rule, this collection includes an equal number of commentaries by French- and English-speaking historians concerning each of the four constitutions to offer the most nuanced view of Canada’s origins to date.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Call for Papers/ Appel de communications: 2016 Canadian Law and Society Association Annual Meeting/Réunion annuelle de l’Association canadienne Droit et Société

(La version française suit ci-dessous)

2016 Canadian Law and Society Association Annual Meeting University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

85th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences - Energizing Communities Call for Papers

 The program committee of the Canadian Law and Society Association invites submissions for its Annual Conference to be held during the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Calgary. The theme for Congress 2016, “Energizing Communities,” provides an excellent opportunity for law and society scholars to explore law’s place in community building and the fostering of pluralistic relationships. We welcome proposals for papers in any area of Law and Society and socio-legal scholarship. We encourage participants to submit suggestions for complete panels and roundtables. Panel organizers should include the following in their submissions: a thematic overview of no more than 500 words, abstracts for each paper (250 words or less), a title for the panel, a one page CV for each presenter and a suggested chair or discussant. Individual submissions are most welcome and should include the following: a title, an abstract (250 words or less) and a one page CV. Please indicate in your submission if you are willing to serve as a panel chair. We are open to having a number of panels that focus on particular themes such as legal history, religious freedom, gender & sexuality, law & technology and indigenous legal knowledge. It may be helpful for presenters to know that the CLSA conference will overlap with the Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of Law Teachers on May 30 & 31. There will be a number of events dedicated to graduate students. The conference keynote speaker will be Prof. John McLaren, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, who will deliver his address at the banquet on May 30. Professor McLaren served as the first Dean of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law. Where: University of Calgary, Calgary, AB When: May 28-30, 2016 Deadline: January 31, 2016 Submission information: Please forward panel and paper proposals by email attachment to Nicole O’Byrne, CLSA Vice-President (Conferences) at Please put your last name and the words “CLSA submission” in the subject line. Presenters must be members of the CLSA. They must also register for Congress and pay the Congress fees, including the society fee for the CLSA. Information about registration, accommodation and other Congress activities is available on the Congress website:
Réunion annuelle de l’Association canadienne Droit et Société (2016)
Université de Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
Le 85e Congrès annuel des Sciences humaines : L’Énergie des communautés
Appel de communications
Le comité des programmes de l’ACDS vous invite à soumettre vos contributions en vue de sa Conférence annuelle qui aura lieu lors du Congrès des Sciences humaines 2016 à l’Université de Calgary. Le thème du Congrès 2016, L’Énergie des communautés, offre une excellente occasion d’explorer la place du droit dans le renforcement des collectivités et le pluralisme communautaire.
Toutes contributions relatives aux disciplines s’intéressant au droit et société, ainsi qu’aux recherches sociojuridiques sont bienvenues. L’Association encourage les participants à soumettre leurs contributions pour des présentations individuelles et des tables rondes. Les organisateurs de tables rondes doivent nous faire parvenir l’aperçu thématique (500 mots maximum), le résumé de chaque présentation (250 mots maximum), le titre de la table ronde, le curriculum vitae (1 page) de chaque orateur, ainsi que le nom d’une personne qu’on propose comme modérateur. Les propositions de présentations individuelles doivent inclurent : un titre, un résumé (250 mots maximum) et un curriculum vitae (1 page). Veuillez aussi indiquer si vous souhaitez siéger en tant que modérateur. L’ACDS accueille tout particulièrement les propositions pour des groupes de discussion portant sur des thèmes reliés à l’histoire juridique, la liberté de religion, le genre et la sexualité, le droit et la technologie, ainsi que les questions juridiques relatives aux autochtones.
Il pourrait s’avérer utile aux personnes qui présentent de savoir que la réunion annuelle de l’ACDS coïncide avec le Colloque annuel de l’Association canadienne des professeurs de droit, le 30-31 mai 2016. De nombreuses activités sont prévues pour les étudiants diplômés. Le professeur émérite John McLaren de la faculté de droit de l’Université de Victoria sera le conférencier principal. Professeur McLaren a été le premier doyen de la faculté de droit de l’Université de Calgary. Sa présentation aura lieu lors du banquet le 30 mai.
Lieu : Université de Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
Dates du Congrès : du 28-30 mai 2016
Échéancier : Le 31 janvier 2016
Format : Toutes les communications doivent être soumises en pièces jointes, par courrier électronique, à Nicole O’Byrne, vice-présidente (conférences) de l’ACDS à Veuillez indiquer votre nom de famille, ainsi que les mots Contributions ACDS dans le champ « Objet ». Pour présenter, vous devez être membre de l’ACDS. Vous devez aussi compléter votre inscription au Congrès et acquitter les frais d’inscription au Congrès, qui comprennent aussi les frais de conférence pour l’ACDS.
Des renseignements supplémentaires portant sur l’inscription, le logement et le programme des activités du Congrès sont offerts sur le site Internet du Congrès à

Allard School of Law History Project LLM Scholarship

Allard School of Law History Project LLM Scholarship

The Peter A. Allard School of Law is offering a one-year scholarship of $15,000 to support an LLM student during the 2016-17 academic year who intends to use the materials and resources available through the Allard School of Law History Project to write a thesis on the history of legal education or the legal profession, or on some other aspect of British Columbia’s legal history.
Allard School of Law History Project
Through the generous donation of Peter A. Allard, Q.C., the Law School established the Allard School of Law History Project to collect, preserve, and communicate its rich history and the history of legal education and the legal profession in British Columbia. Using an online archive to allow broad access, the Project aims to capture something of the experiences of people who passed through the school as students, faculty, or staff, and of those who have made significant contributions to the development of the law in British Columbia. This involves collecting documentary material and an ambitious oral history project. More than 40 interviews are already lodged in the UBC Archives and available on the Allard School of Law History Project website: Work continues to build the documentary and oral histories collection.
Allard History Project LLM Scholarship
The Allard School of Law History Project LLM Scholarship is to support a student who intends to use the material collected through the Project in his or her LLM thesis, and, by doing so, to contribute to the history of the legal profession and/or to the legal history of British Columbia.
To apply, include an expression of interest in the History Project LLM Scholarship in your LLM application (details below) and provide details of how you propose to use the History Project materials in your thesis proposal. Please contact Douglas Harris, Nathan T. Nemetz Chair in Legal History (, if you have questions about the Allard School of Law History Project or the LLM Scholarship.
The LLM degree at UBC is a research-based degree that includes course work and a substantial piece of original legal scholarship in the form of a thesis written under the supervision of a faculty member.
The application deadline for the program beginning September 2016 is December 15th, 2015. Further information about UBC’s LLM degree and the admission process is available at

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tillotson, Warfare State, Welfare State, and the Selling of the Personal Income Tax, 1942-1945 on SSRN

Shirley Tillotson of the history department at Dalhousie University, has posted "Warfare State, Welfare State, and the Selling of the Personal Income Tax, 1942-1945" on SSRN. The article also appears in Canadian Tax Journal/Revue Fiscale Canadienne ( vol. 63, 1) 


This article examines lower-income Canadians' protests around the personal income tax aspects of Canadian war finance during the Second World War. It describes criticisms of the 1942 amendments to the Income War Tax Act and the means by which lower-income Canadians registered their concerns, through absenteeism, labour organization, and participation in public debate, drawing on their resources as voters (through political parties) and as prospective contributors to war savings campaigns. The finance minister and others took these protests seriously as a threat to war finance and the stabilization program. Consequently, the Department of Finance and the Department of National Revenue, together with the Wartime Information Board, responded vigorously to the protests, through various public relations campaigns and through a series of amendments to the tax statute. These responses to tax protest contributed to the process, normally seen as driven by either macroeconomics or social security ideology, or both, that led to Canada's Family Allowance Act, a landmark in the evolution of the Canadian welfare state. By pointing to the influence of tax protest by smaller income tax payers on the decision to expand the welfare state, the story told here shows how the communitarian public opinion of the war years was also shaped in part by self-interested pocketbook politics.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dale Gibson, Law, Life, and Government at Red River, Volume 1 Settlement and Governance, 1812-1872

Now available from The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and McGill-Queen's University Press, Law, Life, and Government at Red River, Volume 1  Settlement and Governance, 1812-1872 by Dale Gibson. (This is also number 13 in the Rupert's Land Record Series.)

Here's the Osgoode Society blurb:

The General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia can justly be called the first ‘British’ court in western Canada. Although there were predecessor institutions and judicial arrangements for hearing criminal and civil cases, the establishment of the Quarterly Court in the 1830s put the administration of justice in the Red River region on a firm and regularised footing.
Professor Gibson’s comprehensive history of the Court weaves together the legal history of Red River with its social, economic, and political history. At the centre piece of this book sits the complete court proceedings of the General Quarterly Court from 1844 until 1872, which are examined in detail and in context to provide a compelling narrative of the administration of substantial rather than formal justice in a Company community.

Here's the MQUP blurb.

A new view of frontier justice in western Canada’s first major settlement through the eyes of its courts and witnesses.

Inhabited by a diverse population of First Nations peoples, Métis, Scots, Upper and Lower Canadians, and Americans, and dominated by the commercial and governmental activities of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Red River - now Winnipeg - was a challenging settlement to oversee. This illuminating account presents the story of the unique legal and governmental system that attempted to do so and the mixed success it encountered, culminating in the 1869-70 Red River Rebellion and confederation with Canada in 1870.

In Law, Life, and Government at Red River, Dale Gibson provides rich, revealing glimpses into the community, and its complex relations with the Hudson’s Bay: the colony’s owner, and primary employer. Volume 1 details the history of the settlement’s establishment, development, and ambivalent relationship with the legal and undemocratic, but gradually, grudgingly, slightly, more representitive [sic], governmental institutions forming in the area, and the legal system’s evolving engagement with the Aboriginal population.

A vivid look into early settler life, Law, Life, and Government at Red River offers insights into the political, commercial, and legal circumstances that unfolded during western expansion.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sarah Hamill 2015-6 Catalyst Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School

I'm so sorry I missed this when it was announced in the spring.

Congratulations, Sarah! We are so happy to have you back in Toronto. (Sad for the legal history community in Edmonton though.)

Note to all: Please send me your announcements and achievements so I can spread the news, since I do miss a lot despite best efforts. I promise I won't take it as boasting!

Tribute to Roy McMurtry held at Osgoode Hall

Yesterday evening members of the bench and bar, academics, and friends of Canadian Legal History gathered at Osgoode Hall in Toronto to thank Roy McMurtry, founder and long time president of the Osgoode Society on the occasion of his retirement from the presidency.

Roy has been honoured many times before, as is fitting given his many contributions to Canadian society through law and politics. But as editor-in-chief Jim Phillips remarked in his address, Roy's initiative in establishing the society, and his efforts in securing its success, including hiring the late Professor Peter Oliver as first editor in chief, attracting support from the bar, the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Law Foundation of Ontario, as well as authoring one of our books, are far from least of these contributions. (You can read about the founding of the society in Roy's Memoirs and Reflections, published in 2013.) The Society could not have reached its current state of excellence (100 books and counting) without him.

Thankfully, Roy will continue to be involved with the society as past president.

Call for Papers: Conference to honour Doug Hay, Osgoode Hall Law School, May 5, 2016

To honour the recent retirement of Professor C. Douglas Hay from York University, where he held appointments in the Department of History and Osgoode Hall Law School, a conference in his honour will be held at York University on Thursday, 5 May 2016.  “Doug” is one of the best-known legal historians in the English-speaking world, an achievement recently recognized when the American Society of Legal History named him an honorary fellow.  While his scholarship has been devoted primarily to British topics, Doug has also contributed to Canadian legal history, particularly with respect to post-1760 Quebec.  His work on both Britain and Canada has been an inspiration to Canadian scholars for its scope, ambition, sophistication and creative utilization of sources, while providing interpretive frameworks that have been readily adopted in a broad range of Canadian scholarship.     
The organizers expect that the British historical community will find its own way of honouring Doug.  This conference is aimed at Canadianists who have worked on topics or themes similar to those found in Doug’s scholarship, or who have employed his approaches in their own writing.  We are particularly interested in hearing from Doug’s former graduate students.  Proposals are welcome from scholars or graduate students in any academic discipline, from independent scholars, and from those in professional practice.  The only substantive requirement is that the proposal engage with the nexus of law and history in some way.
A selection of the papers will appear in a theme issue of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal devoted to Doug’s career and legacy.  Papers chosen as candidates for publication must pass through the Journal's peer review requirements
500-word paper proposals should be sent to us at the email addresses below by Monday 7 December 2015. Decisions will be made early in January 2016. Applications for funding are in progress and we aim to provide reimbursement for travel costs of graduate students, pre-tenure scholars and those in precarious work situations.  Please indicate in your proposal whether you are likely to need such support.  

Philip Girard, Osgoode Hall Law School,
Jim Phillips, University of Toronto Faculty of Law & Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History,
William Wicken, York University Department of History,  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Smith on History of Intestate Succession in Quebec on SSRN

Lionel Smith has posted "Intestate Succession in Quebec" on SSRN. The essay will appear in Kenneth G C Reid, Marius J de Waal, and Reinhard Zimmermann (eds), Comparative Succession Law, volume II: Intestate Succession (Oxford University Press, 2015)

Here's the abstract:

When Quebec became part of the British Empire, its private law was the Custom of Paris. By the Quebec Act 1774, this customary law was retained with the important exception that full freedom of testation was granted. The customary law continued to apply, including for intestate succession, until 1866, long after it had ceased to operate in France. In that year the Civil Code of Lower Canada came into force; for intestate succession, a system based on that of the French Civil Code was adopted. This system was modified only slightly with the coming into force in 1994 of the Civil Code of Québec.

This paper traces the evolution of the law of intestate succession in Quebec up to the modern day, touching also on the different intestacy rules that may apply to First Nations people living in the province.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Osgoode Society legal history workshop--final fall schedule with room information



All sessions are at 6.30 p.m., in Northrop Frye 119. The Northrop Frye Building is immediately to the south of the main Victoria College Building, across from the law school. Museum subway stop, take the east exit.  Here's a map.

Wednesday September 23 – Brian Young, McGill University: ‘Law, landed families, and intergenerational issues in nineteenth-century Quebec.’

Wednesday October 7 – Ian Kyer: ‘The Canada Deposit Insurance Act of 1967: a Federal Response to a Constitutional Quandry.’

Wednesday October 21 – Paul Craven, York University:  ‘The 'Judges Clause': Judges as Labour Arbitrators, 1910-1970.’

Wednesday November 4 – David Fraser, University of Nottingham: ‘ “Honorary Protestants”: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997.’

(Thursday November 5 – Osgoode Society Annual Book Launch, Osgoode Hall)

Wednesday November  18 – Jacqueline Briggs, University of Toronto: ‘R. v. Jonathan: A Case in Context Study'

Wednesday December 2 – Jim Phillips, University of Toronto: ‘A History of Law in Canada, 1815-1850.’

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Perrault,"'Sans honte et sans regret': Les chemins de traverse entre le pénal et le psychiatrique dans les cas d’aliénation criminelle à Montréal, 1920–1950"

Isabelle Perrault has published "« Sans honte et sans regret » : Les chemins de traverse entre le pénal et le psychiatrique dans les cas d’aliénation criminelle à Montréal, 1920–1950" in Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadien d'histoire de la medicine.


C’est le Dr Daniel Plouffe, psychiatre responsable des cas de transferts de femmes de la Prison des femmes Fullum à l’Hôpital Saint-Jean-de-Dieu et du traitement des hommes internés à l’Hôpital pour aliénés criminels de la Prison de Bordeaux, qui est en charge de l’évaluation des aliénés criminels entre 1920 et 1950. À l’aide des dossiers de patients internés à l’Hôpital Saint-Jean-de-Dieu, cet article propose une analyse des comportements criminels et, surtout, des indices permettant aux nouveaux experts de statuer sur l’état mental de la personne lors du crime. Assauts, vagabondage, prostitution, pyromanie, violence,et vols sont quelques-uns des comportements inscrits au dossier qui ont déclenché le processus judiciaire de mise à l’écart et, par la suite, de psychiatrisation. 
Ces dossiers serviront à illustrer les lentes mais fructueuses tentatives des médecins légistes et psychiatres qui ont exercé des pressions pour la reconnaissance de ce champ d’expertise où on entend traiter plutôt que punir les criminels mentalement dérangés.

Dr Daniel Plouffe, the psychiatrist in charge of women’s transfers from the Fullum Women Prison to Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Hospital and of men’s incarceration at Bordeaux Hospital for the Insane, was, more generally, the one who evaluated the criminally insane between 1920 and 1950. Using records of patients committed to Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Hospital, this article provides an analysis of criminal behaviour and, most importantly, of signs on which new experts could decide the mental state (mind) of a person during a crime. Assault, vagrancy, prostitution, arson, violence, and theft are some of the behaviours noted in the records that triggered the judicial process leading to the segregation of individuals and subsequently, to their receiving a psychiatric diagnosis.
These cases serve to illustrate the slow but successful attempts of forensic psychiatrists who lobbied for the recognition of this field of expertise and who intended to treat rather than punish criminals who were recognized as mentally disturbed.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Call for Applications: Tenure stream position, U of T Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal Studies

Job Field: Tenure Stream
Faculty / Division: Faculty of Arts and Science
Department: Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies
Campus: St. George (downtown Toronto)
Job Posting: 30 June 2015
Job closing: 15 September 2015
The Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto invites applications for a tenure stream appointment in the area of Criminology or Sociolegal Studies. The appointment will be at the rank of Assistant Professor and will commence on July 1, 2016. Research and teaching expertise in the area of criminal justice, either in a domestic or international context is preferred.
The Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies is internationally renowned for the study of law, crime, order, and security from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and theoretical approaches. With backgrounds in sociology, history, law, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, and political science, faculty are actively engaged in Canadian and international criminological research and teaching. We welcome applications from scholars from those and other relevant backgrounds.
The successful candidate will teach in both the undergraduate and graduate programs and they will be expected to develop an independently funded program of research. Candidates must be able to teach a selection of courses in criminology, and law and society, and must have strong communication skills as well as demonstrated success in developing students’ mastery of a subject and of the latest developments in the field.
Applicants must have earned a PhD in criminology, law, or a cognate social science discipline by the date of appointment, or shortly thereafter, and must have a demonstrated record of excellence in teaching and research. Evidence of excellence in teaching will be demonstrated by letters of reference, teaching evaluations, dossier and/or syllabi submitted as part of the application. Candidates also must have strong evidence of research of an internationally competitive caliber, demonstrated by publications in leading journals in the relevant field, presentations at significant conferences, awards and accolades, and strong endorsements by referees.
Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Applications should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, as well as research and teaching statements. If you have any questions about this position, please contact All application materials should be submitted online.
Applicants should also ask three referees to send letters directly to the department via email to: crim.admin@utoronto.caby 15 September 2015.
Submission guidelines can be found at: We recommend combining documents into one or two files in PDF/MS Word format.
For further information on the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, please visit our website
The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.
All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop Fall 2015 Schedule

Mark these dates (or those you are interested in)  if you are likely to be in the Toronto Region.
Information regarding location to follow. All sessions start 6:30 p.m.



Wednesday September 23 – Brian Young, McGill University: ‘Law, landed families, and intergenerational issues in nineteenth-century Quebec.’

Wednesday October 7 – Ian Kyer: ‘The Canada Deposit Insurance Act of 1967: a Federal Response to a Constitutional Quandary.’

Wednesday October 21 – Paul Craven, York University:  ‘The 'Judges Clause': Judges as Labour Arbitrators, 1910-1970.’

Wednesday November 4 – David Fraser, University of Nottingham: ‘ “Honorary Protestants”: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997.’

(Thursday November 5 – Osgoode Society Annual Book Launch, Osgoode Hall)

Wednesday November  18 – Jacqueline Briggs, University of Toronto: ‘R. v. Jonathan: A Case in Context Study'

Wednesday December 2 – Jim Phillips, University of Toronto: ‘A History of Law in Canada, 1815-1850.’

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Prize Winners announced at Osgoode Society AGM

This evening at the Osgoode Society's annual general meeting, three prizes were awarded.

For the Peter Oliver Prize for the best published writing by a student, we have co-winners.

Edward Cavanagh is a PhD student in history at the University of Ottawa and a former McMurtry Fellow.  Tyler Wentzell graduated in 2014 from the University of Toronto Law School.

The articles for which they were awarded the prize are:

Edward Cavanagh,  ‘Possession and Dispossession in Corporate New France, 1600-1663: Debunking a “Juridical History” and Revisiting Terra Nullius,’ 2014 32 Law and History Review 97

Tyler Wentzell, ‘The Court and the Cataracts:  The Creation of the Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park and the Ontario Court of Appeal,’ (2014) 106 Ontario History 100

The R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship in Canadian Legal History was awarded to Elizabeth Koester.  

Elizabeth holds an LLB from the University of Toronto and was a partner with McCarthys for some years.  She has returned to academe and is pursuing a doctorate at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, where her dissertation will focus on law and eugenics in Ontario, 1900-1939.

Finally, the winner of the John T. Saywell Prize in Constitutional Legal History (awarded in alternate years) is Hakeem O. Yusuf, Reader in Law and Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, for his book Colonial and Post-Colonial Constitutionalism in the Commonwealth:  Peace, Order and Good Government, published by Routledge last year. Dr. Yusuf considers the interpretation of and experience with POGG in Canada, Australia, Nigeria and the UK itself, but the Canadian experience is in many ways the heart of the book.  By putting POGG into a broader imperial context, Dr. Yusuf has brought new insights to a topic that Canadian legal and constitutional historians have studied almost obsessively.  

Congratulations to all four prize winners.

Justice Robert J. Sharpe new president of the Osgoode Society

At this evening's meeting of the board of directors of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, Justice Robert J. Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal was elected president of the Society.

While R. Roy McMurtry, the founder and of the society and its long-serving president, has decided to step down, he will not be going very far, as he will remain on the board as a director. We are fortunate that we will continue to benefit from his wealth of experience and talent.

We are also extremely glad that Bob Sharpe has agreed to succeed him. Not only is Bob a distinguished judge and former dean of the U of T law school, he is also one of the Society's most prolific and successful authors. His books for the society include:

The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2011), Winner of the Fred Landon Award of the Ontario Historical Association, 2013.
The Last Day, The Last Hour: The Currie Libel Trial (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, second edition, 2009),
The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal Personhood (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2007), (with Patricia McMahon) Winner of the Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize, 2007.
Brian Dickson: A Judge's Journey (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2003), (with Kent Roach). Winner of the John Wesley Dafoe Book Prize, 2003.

Congratulations and thank you, Bob!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Morin, "Ownership and Indigenous Territories in New France (1603-1760)" on SSRN

Michel Morin of the University of Montreal has posted "Ownership and Indigenous Territories in New France (1603-1760)" on SSRN. The article appears in Jose Vicente Serrao, Barabara Direito, Eugenia Rodriguez and Susana Munch Miranda (eds), Property Rights, Land and Territory in the European Overseas Empires, Lisbon, CEHC-IUL, 2014.

Here's the abstract:

In North-Eastern America, the pre-Columbian origin of Indigenous familial territories has remained controversial among Anthropologists, like the possibility that Algonquian peoples devised wildlife conservation measures by themselves. During the 17th century, however, in accordance with concepts found in the literature on natural law and the law of nations, the French recognized that Indigenous Nations had national territories and controlled access to areas over which they exercised a form of collective ownership; the use of lands was regulated by chiefs. With time, the King’s representatives convinced their allies to call themselves “brothers” and to grant to each other a mutual right of hunting over their lands. Nonetheless, they were cognizant of well-defined hunting “districts” exploited under the direction of the chief of a familial band. Members from another band or strangers had to obtain the permission to hunt there, though occasional incursions were accepted. Starting in 1660, conservation measures were observed in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain area, but in the 18th century, they seemed unknown on the North Coast of the Saint Lawrence River. It seems unlikely, however, that Indigenous persons did not have enough information to devise such measures by themselves. Overall, national territorial limits and well-defined hunting districts seem to have had an Indigenous rather than a French origin. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Adams, "Constitutional Nationalism: Politics, Law, and Culture on the Road to Patriation" on SSRN

Eric Adams has posted "Constitutional Nationalism: Politics, Law, and Culture on the Road to Patriation" on SSRN. This chapter appears in the collection Patriation and its Consequences: Constitution Making in Canada, Lois Harder and Steve Patten eds, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015).

This book chapter forms part of a larger collection of reflections on the November 1981 patriation negotiations leading to the passage of the Constitution Act, 1982. A legal history of Canadian constitutional thought, it connects patriation to the powerful forces of constitutional nationalism as they emerged in Canadian law, politics, and culture. Without an amending formula in the British North America Act, an adjudicative structure in which Britain’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council served as Canada’s highest court, and lacking foreign policy autonomy, Canada remained tethered to Britain in ways that would become increasingly contentious. For Canada’s constitutional nationalists, the continued British constitutional role served as an intolerable expression of the Dominion’s infantilized status and a barrier to Canada’s abilities to develop policies, institutions, and politics that were reflective of the desires of Canadians. While the forces of constitutional nationalism triumphed in Canada's attainment of foreign policy autonomy, the “supremacy” of the Supreme Court, and a domestic constitutional amending formula, ultimately, the patriation of 1982 resolved fewer problems than constitutional nationalists might have hoped and generated several others in the bargain

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Legal History at CLSA annual meeting

The CLSA is meeting in Ottawa this week.

Two panels are of particular interest to this blog:

[June 3 at 2:00] Legal Knowledge: Historical Perspectives (Fauteux 359) Chair – Présidence: Michael Boudreau, St. Thomas University 
• Peter Price, Queen’s University “To Know the Law: Instructing Popular Legal Literacy in Canada, 1870-1920” 
• Mathieu Charbonneau, Carleton University, “From Socio-legal Studies to Sociology of Private Insurance: The Emergence of Modern Life Insurance Legislation in England, 1664-1774” 
• Jean Sauvageau & Claire Goggin, St. Thomas University, “Homicide et peine de mort au Canada, 1920-1949 : les effets de la Grande depression”

[June 5 at 10:45] Tort Litigation in the United States and Canada: Historical Perspectives (Fauteux 135) Chair – Présidence: TBD 
• Lyndsay Campbell, University of Calgary, “Defaming Women: Women’s Use of Defamation in Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, 1820-40” 
• Eric H. Reiter, Concordia University, “Avenging the Memory of the Dead: Family Honour in Quebec Defamation Cases, 1885-1920” 
• R. Blake Brown, St. Mary’s University, “As a rule, it is not advisable to bring an action against a physician’: Litigating Medical Malpractice in Canada, 1902-1935”

h/t Peter Price