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Saturday, March 28, 2015

MacMillan, "The Mystery Of Privity: Grand Trunk Railway Company Of Canada V Robinson (1915)"

In the spring issue of the U of T Law Journal, Catherine MacMillan has an article, "The Mystery Of Privity: Grand Trunk Railway Company Of Canada V Robinson (1915)."

Here's the abstract:

This article examines a little known decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council: Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada v Robinson (1915). The examination is historical and it provides a different insight into the understanding of privity of contract, a doctrine central to contract law. The examination reveals a process of trans-Atlantic legal migration in which English law was applied to resolve an Ontario case. The nature of the resolution is surprising because it appears to conflict with the better known decision of the House of Lords, Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company, Limited v Selfridge and Company, Limited, which a similarly constituted panel delivered in the same week. This article argues that there was a greater malleability in the resolution of cases concerned with privity than was thought to have existed. It is also argued that the power of Canadian railway capitalism is a significant factor in understanding the legal resolution of the case. Finally, the article considers the use of English and American precedents relevant to the case. The application of English precedents to the case led to a resolution not entirely befitting Canadian conditions. DOI 10.3138/UTLJ.2775

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wife to Widow by Bettina Bradbury shortlisted for Garneau Medal

Wife to Widow: Lives, Laws, and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Montreal (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011) by Bettina Bradbury has been shortlisted for the Francois-Xavier Garneau Medal, awarded by the Canadian Historical Association every five years for an outstanding Canadian contribution to historical research. 

Wife to Widow has already won or been shortlisted for a number of prizes. From the publisher's website:

Finalist, 2013 Canada Prize in the Social Sciences, Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences 

Winner, 2012 Prix Lionel Groulx, L'Institut d'histoire de l'Amérique francaise 

Winner, 2012 Clio Award for Quebec, Canadian Historical Association 

Shortlisted, 2012 Canadian Political History Book Prize, Canadian Historical Association 

Shortlisted, 2012 Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, Canadian Historical Association 

In Wife to Widow, historian Bettina Bradbury explores the little studied phenomenon of the transition from wife to widowhood to offer new insights into the law, politics, demography, religion, and domestic life of early nineteenth-century Montreal. 

Bradbury's unique history spans the lives of two generations of Montreal women who married either before or after the Patriote rebellions of 1837-38 to reveal a picture of a city and its inhabitants across a period of profound change. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, from church and court records, censuses, and tax documents, to newspapers and pamphlets, Bradbury shows how women --Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish, wealthy and working-class -- interacted with and shaped the city's culture, customs, and institutions, even as they laboured under the shifting conditions of patriarchy. 

Weaving together the individual biographies of twenty women against the backdrop of the collective genealogy of over five hundred, Bradbury tells the stories of these women through the traces their actions left in documents and archives. In doing so, she makes an invaluable contribution to the writing on the histories of women, families, cities, law, religion and politics. 

A truly monumental study, Wife to Widow is an immensely readable, rigorous, and compelling work.

Congratulations and good luck, Bettina!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Walters "The Aboriginal Charter of Rights: The Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Constitution of Canada" on SSRN

Mark Walters of Queen's University Faculty of Law has posted "The Aboriginal Charter of Rights: The Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Constitution of Canada"on SSRN.

Here's the abstract:

Since the nineteenth century, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 has been described as the “Charter” of rights for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. In 1982, the Proclamation was explicitly mentioned in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet the legal and constitutional status of the Proclamation remains something of a puzzle in Canadian law today. It is celebrated politically as a landmark instrument in the recognition of Aboriginal rights, and yet judges have read the Proclamation narrowly in terms of the rights it protects and the areas within Canada to which it applies. The author considers the evolving legal status of this historic document within Canadian constitutional law, concluding that as a source of positive law it is more or less a dead letter, but as a source of unwritten legal principle that continues to shape the Crown-Aboriginal relationship in Canada, the Proclamation is still very much alive over 250 years after it was issued.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Wednesday March 4th Osgoode Society Legal History Group session moved off-campus

Due to the strike, the session scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday March 4th,  Elsbeth Heaman, McGill University, "“Legal Fictions of Fairness: Corporate Tax Revolt in fin-de siècle Ontario,” will be held off campus.
If you are interested in attending, please contact Jim Phillips at

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Campbell, "Race, Upper Canadian Constitutionalism and 'British Justice'"

In the February 2015 issue of the Law & History Review, Lyndsay Campbell of the University of Calgary has an article "Race, Upper Canadian Constitutionalism and 'British Justice.'"

Here's the abstract: 

This article explores a puzzle in Canadian legal historiography: the meaning of “British justice” and its relationship to race. Scholars have noted the use of this term in the interwar years of the twentieth century, to object to demonstrations of racial bias in the legal system. The puzzle is why. From the mid-1850s onward, statutes aimed at circumscribing the rights and opportunities of aboriginal people multiplied. British Columbia passed anti-Chinese, anti-Japanese, and anti-Indian legislation. Saskatchewan prohibited Chinese and Japanese employers from hiring white women. At least some officials supposed that legislation targeting African Canadians would be permissible. In 1924, the Toronto Telegram called for a poll tax against Jews. It is clear that between 1880 and 1920 or thereabouts, federal and provincial law was deeply involved in creating and reifying legal categories that rested explicitly on physical distinctions perceived to exist among people, which were assumed to signal morally and legally relevant characteristics. Why, then, would anyone have thought that “British justice” should be a shield against racism?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cancelled: Roundtable Discussion on Criminal Justice History at U of T, March 6th

* Update: The roundtable scheduled for Friday March 6th has been cancelled.*

The Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto is hosting a roundtable discussion on Criminal Justice History on Friday, March 6th.

Here's the notice:

Roundtable discussion:

Criminal Justice History

Speakers: Prof. Li Chen (Historical & Cultural Studies, University of Toronto),
Prof. Paul Craven (Social Science, York University) and
Prof. Jim Phillips (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto)
Moderator: Prof. Doug Hay (Osgoode & History Dept., York University)

Friday March 6th, 2015
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Ericson Seminar Room
2nd Floor, Canadiana Gallery Building
14 Queen’s Park Crescent West
The discussion will be followed by a wine and cheese in the Centre’s lounge from 5:00pm-6:00pm
If you are a person with a disability and require accommodation, please contact Lori Wells at 416-978-3722 x226 or email and we will do our best to make appropriate arrangements.