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Friday, October 31, 2014

New from UTP/Osgoode Society, The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal, 1792-2013 by Christopher Moore

The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal in Canada, 1792-2013
New from the Osgoode Society and the University of Toronto Press, The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal, 1792-2013 by Christopher Moore.

This is the "members' book" for 2014--free to Osgoode Society members. It's not too late to become a a member: cost for ordinary members is $50, for students $21.50.

Join today, have your copy delivered (free of charge) and come to the launch of this and our optional books on November 4th at Osgoode Hall!

The U of T Press says:

In Christopher Moore’s lively and engaging history of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, he traces the evolution of one of Canada’s most influential courts from its origins as a branch of the lieutenant governor’s executive council to the post-Charter years of cutting-edge jurisprudence and national influence.
Discussing the issues, personalities, and politics which have shaped Ontario’s highest court,The Court of Appeal for Ontario offers appreciations of key figures in Canada’s legal and political history – including John Beverly Robinson, Oliver Mowat, Bora Laskin, and Bertha Wilson – and a serious examination of what the right of appeal means and how it has been interpreted by Canadians over the last two hundred years. The first comprehensive history of the Ontario Court of Appeal, Moore’s book is the definitive and eminently readable account of the court that has been called everything from a bulwark against tyranny to murderer’s row.

And the Osgoode Society says: 

Before 1850 the Court of Appeal for Ontario was the Governor’s Executive Council. In 1850 the Court of Error and Appeal for Canada West met for the first time, the first appeal court for what is now Ontario that was both independent of the Executive Council and staffed only by professional judges. Christopher Moore’s study of the modern court’s history begins with these early courts, and provides an account of more than 200 years of the court’s institutional history. It charts the various and at times complex reorganisations, and identifies landmark events, such as the creation of the modern court in 1876 and the opening up of criminal appeals in the late nineteenth century. This is also partly a biographical history, identifying dominant figures, especially Chief Justices, in the court’s development. Along the way the book looks at the court’s workload, its internal administration, relations with the bar, and connections to the politics of the province.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New from UTP/Osgoode Society: Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919, by Thomas Telfer

The latest Osgoode Society book is Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919, by Thomas Telfer of the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario.

Says the Osgoode Society:

Professor Telfer’s deeply researched book shows that between Confederation and 1919, when the federal parliament passed the Bankruptcy Act that remains the basis of the current law, Canadians debated insolvency law with a perhaps surprising amount of passion. The discharge raised deep issues of commercial morality, while arguments about priorities pitted local against regional and national interests. Federalism complicated the story, as it often does in Canadian legal history, as the federal parliament abandoned its jurisdiction over bankruptcy for decades.

Says the U of T Press:

In 1880 the federal Parliament of Canada repealed the Insolvent Act of 1875, leaving debtor-creditor matters to be regulated by the provinces. Almost forty years later, Parliament finally passed new bankruptcy legislation, recognizing that what was once considered a moral evil had become a commercial necessity. In Ruin and Redemption, Thomas GW Telfer analyses the ideas, interests, and institutions that shaped the evolution of Canadian bankruptcy law in this era. Examining the vigorous public debates over the idea of bankruptcy, Telfer argues that the law was shaped by conflict over the morality of release from debts and by the divergence of interests between local and distant creditors. Ruin and Redemption is the first full-length study of the origins of Canadian bankruptcy law, thus making it an important contribution to the study of Canada’s commercial law.

Successful PH.D. defence by Karen Schucher on history of Ontario's human rights regime

 Karen Schucher of Osgoode Hall Law School successfully defended her doctoral dissertation today.
The dissertation, titled "Coercing Justice? Exploring the "Aspirations and Practice" of Law as a Tool in Struggles Against Social Inequalties," traces the history of Ontario's human rights regime.
Congratulations, Karen!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Call for expressions of interest: legal history workshop winter/spring term 2015

Jim Phillips and I are working on next term's schedule for the Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop.
We have a number of people interested,  and I will be emailing anyone who has communicated with Jim or with me about presenting next term to confirm and select dates.
But there are still a number of spots available.
If you will be in the Toronto area and would like to present, please email me (  or Jim (  Let us know your title or topic (if you have one, not essential at this stage) and preferences for dates (i.e. earlier or later in term, times you cannot make it, etc.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New from Osgoode Society/UTP: Petty Justice by Paul Craven

Just in through my mailbox, Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick 1785-1867, by Paul Craven of York University.

Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, 1785-1867I admit to having some advance knowledge of the contents--which are admirable, the result of awe-inspiring archival research--but was pleasantly surprised by the physical charms of the book design. The cover illustration is lovely, as is the type face, a departure from the standard Osgoode Society/UTP norm, which I have always found elegant, but a tad cold, and not terribly conducive to close reading. This font/size is very readable (which may offset the 500+ pages of text, charts, tables, bibliography and index somewhat). The choice of footnotes over the usual endnotes also adds to the accessibility,

Here's the publisher's blurb:

Until the late nineteenth-century, the most common form of local government in rural England and the British Empire was administration by amateur justices of the peace: the sessions system. Petty Justice uses an unusually well-documented example of the colonial sessions system in Loyalist New Brunswick to examine the role of justices of the peace and other front-line low law officials like customs officers and deputy land surveyors in colonial local government.
Using the rich archival resources of Charlotte County, Paul Craven discusses issues such as the impact of commercial rivalries on local administration, the role of low law officials in resolving civil and criminal disputes and keeping the peace, their management of public works, social welfare, and liquor regulation, and the efforts of grand juries, high court judges, colonial governors, and elected governments to supervise them. A concluding chapter explains the demise of the sessions system in Charlotte County in the decade of Confederation.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Congratulations to Charlotte Gray for Toronto Book Award

The City of Toronto has announced that Charlotte Gray has won the 2014 Toronto Book award for The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and The Trial that Shocked a Country, a co-publication of the Osgoode Society and Harper-Collins.
Congratulations to Charlotte and both publishers!


hat tip Trish McMahon

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New from MQUP: Patrician Families and the Making of Quebec by Brian Young

 New from McGill-Queen's University Press

The Taschereaus and McCords
By Brian Young 
History has often ignored the influence in modern Quebec of family dynasties, patriarchy, seigneurial land, and traditional institutions. Following the ascent of four generations from two families through eighteenth-century New France to the onset of the First World War, Patrician Families and the Making of Quebec compares the French Catholic Taschereaus and the Anglican and English-speaking McCords.

Consulting private, institutional, and legal archives, Brian Young studies eight family patriarchs. Working as merchants or colonial administrators in the first generation, they became seigneurial proprietors, officeholders, and prelates. The heads of both families used marriage arrangements, land stewardship, and judgeships to position their heirs. Young shows how patriarchy was a central force in both domestic and public life, as well as the ways in which Taschereau and McCord family strategies extended into the marrow of Quebec society through moral authority, influence on national identities, and their positions within senior offices in religious, judicial, and university institutions. Through courthouses, cemeteries, belfries, and their own chapels and neoclassical estates, they created encompassing cultural landscapes. Later generations used museums, archives, historian collaborators, photography, and modern print to elevate family achievement to the status of heroic national narratives.

Sagas of the monied and entrepreneurial, nationalist imperatives to protect a vulnerable people, and skepticism about the lasting power of great families and historical institutions have relegated the influence of the Taschereaus and McCords to obscurity. Patrician Families and the Making of Quebec resuscitates the central role these elite families played in English and French Quebec.