The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History

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    Book Signing, Osgoode Society Book Launch, October 2013
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    Our collection on display, Book Launch, October 2013
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    Osgoode Society Book Launch, Convocation Hall, October 2013
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    Authors Charlotte Gray and Roy McMurtry hard at work, Book Launch 2013
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    "I shall always be gratified that I had the opportunity to create the Osgoode Society in 1979 when I was the Attorney-General for Ontario..." - R. Roy McMurtry -
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    The Osgoode Society Board in 1984. Seated from the left: Archie Campbell, Brendan O'Brien, R. Roy McMurtry, and Laura Legge (then Treasurer of the Law Society)
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    Two-time Osgoode Society author Professor Barrignton Walker at the Society's 30th Anniversary Reception, 2009
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    Marilyn MacFarlane, long time administrator of the Osgoode Society, honoured at the Society’s 30th Anniversary Dinner, 2009
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    R. Roy McMurtry, Derry Millar, then Treasurer of the Law Society, and Mrs Millar, at the reception to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Society, 2009
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    I have been a member of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History since my second year at Osgoode Hall Law School, where I was first introduced to the organization by the late Professor Graham Parker. Since then I have been enriched by this organization and its excellent and diverse legal historical publications. Overall, I find the Osgoode Society to be one of the most consistantly relevant organizations to the Canadian Legal Profession. - The Honourable Justice Michael H. Tulloch Court of Appeal for Ontario, Director of the Osgoode Society
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    One of our 2012 books: The African Canadian Legal Odyssey: Historical Essays.
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    One of our 2012 books: Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada.
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    One of our 2012 books: Hunger, Horses and Government Men:Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains.
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    One of our 2012 books: Property on Trial: Canadian Cases in Context.
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    One of our 2013 books: Memoirs and Reflections.
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    One of our 2013 books: Essays in the History of Canada Law, Volume XI: Quebec and the Canadas.
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    One of our 2013 books: Lawyers, Families, and Businesses: The Shaping of a Bay Street Law Firm, Faskens 1863-1963.
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    One of our 2013 books: The Massey Murder: A Maid, her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Nation



We invite interested members of the public, scholars and members of the legal community to join us in the exploration of Canada’s legal history. In the past year we have completely restructured our website to make it a resource for anybody interested in Canadian legal history. You will find here not only much more information than before about our publications and our authors, but also news of our other activities and some new features. In the coming months we will also be launching the section on Legal History Resources.

To join the Osgoode Society click here

To access the Osgoode Society blog click here

To listen to Osgoode Society President R. Roy McMurtry speak on the Osgoode Society and much else click here.

2014 Publications

News & Upcoming Events

Recent Publications

  • A History of the Ontario Court of Appeal, by Christopher Moore
  • The Rise and Fall of British Columbia's Human Rights State, 1953-1984, by Dominique Clement
  • Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, 1785-1867, by Paul Craven
  • Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919, by Thomas

Notable Dates

  • Wednesday February 26 - Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop.  Sally Hadden, Western Michigan University:  "Friends, Colleagues, Competitors: Apprenticeship and Communities of Young Lawyers in Colonial America". Room 20, Birge Carnegie Building, Victoria College, University of Toronto , 6:30 p.m.


  • February 2014 - Osgoode Society Editor-in-Chief Jim Phillips has been awarded the David Walter Mundell Medal for 2013. The Mundell Medal is awarded by the Ministry of the Attorney-General of the Province of Ontario, and recognises "those that have made a distinguished contribution to law and letters."
  • February 2014 - The latest edition of the Law and History Review, Volume 32, No 1, the leading journal in the field, contains an article by Ed Cavanagh, a graduate student at the University of Ottawa and co-winner of the Osgoode Society’s McMurtry Fellowship for 2103-2014. It is entitled: “Possession and Dispossession in Corporate New France,
    1600–1663: Debunking a “Juridical History” and Revisiting Terra Nullius.” We are
    delighted that once again the McMurtry Fellowship is being used to such good effect.
  • January 2014 - Charlotte Gray's The Massey Murder: A Maid, her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Nation, published by the Osgoode Society in 2013,  is one of 5 books nominated for the RBC Taylor Prize for 2014, awarded for the best non-fiction book of the year.
  • November 2013. Ontario Legislature Speaker Dave Levac recently announced the short list for the 2013 Speakers' Book Award. It includes our members' book for 2013, R. Roy McMurtry, Memoirs and Reflections. The winning entry will be announced at an awards ceremony held at the Ontario Legislative Building on March 5, 2014.
  • Our Annual report for 2012 is now available on this website.
  • May 2013 - Osgoode Society Awards Announced. There are co-winners of the R. Roy McMurtry fellowship for 2013-2014. Edward Cavanagh, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, is working on the history of chartered companies in Canada, with specific reference to their role in land settlement and the development of doctrines related to aboriginal dispossession. Joseph Dunlop, who recently obtained his PhD from Oxford, will be a fellow and Emanuel College, University of Toronto, working on the role played by Catholic politicians in the various law reforms related to sexuality of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • We also have co-winners of the Peter Oliver Prize, for published work in Canadian legal history by a student. Susan McKelvey, a law student at Queen's University, was awarded the prize for 'Creating the Myth of Raceless Justice in the Murder Trial of R. v. Richardson, Sandwich, 1903,' and David Steeves, a lawyer in Toronto, who wrote his essay as a masters student, is awarded the prize for 'Maniacal Murderer or Death Dealing Car: The Case of Daniel Perry Samson, 1933-1935.' Both essays were published as chapters in Barrington Walker, ed., The African Canadian Legal Odyssey: Historical Essays (Osgoode Society, 2012)
  • The John T. Saywell Prize for Canadian Constitutional Legal History, administered by the Osgoode Society, has been awarded to Michael S. Cross, Professor Emeritus of History at Dalhousie University, for The Morning Star of Memory: A Biography of Robert Baldwin, published by Oxford University Press in 2012. Responsible government is one of the great landmarks of our constitutional history, and Baldwin generally considered it architect for Ontario. The book is a comprehensive biography which is centered on the issue of responsible government.
  • We are delighted to announce another award won by one of our books. Robert J. Sharpe, The Lazier Murder (2011) has won the Fred Landon Award of the Ontario Historical Society, which honours the best book on regional history in Ontario published in the past three years.
  • One of our 2012 books, Shelley Gavigan, Hunger, Horses and Government Men: Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains, 1870-1905, has won two awards from the Canadian Historical Association. It was awarded an honourable mention for the John A. MacDonald Prize, 2013, given for the best book in any field of Canadian history. It also won a 2013 Clio Prize for the Prairie region. In addition, Hunger, Horses and Government Men was an honourable mention for the 2103 Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize.'
  • Our 2012 members' book, R. Blake Brown, Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada, has been awarded the 2013 Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize. Congratulations to Professor Brown. This is the fourth time that an Osgoode Society book has won this award.
  • News Archive


Osgoode Society
Osgoode Hall, Toronto
Ontario, M5H 2N6, Canada

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