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The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History

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Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore




Dominique Clément

Dominique Clément




Paul Craven




Thomas Telfer

Thomas Telfer


Books Published in 2014 - Now Available

Our members book for 2014 is A History of the Ontario Court of Appeal, by Christopher Moore, published by the University of Toronto Press.  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.


We have published three additional books:


Equality Deferred: Sex Discrimination and British Columbia’s Human Rights State, 1953-84, by Dominique Clément,  Professor of Sociology, University of Alberta, published by the University of British Columbia Press. One of the most profound changes to our law in the second half of the twentieth century was what is often termed the 'rights revolution'. The same period also saw the rise of a plethora of administrative agencies to administer law and policy in many areas. Professor Clement's pioneering study combines these two phenomena, providing a history of the origins and operation of human rights law and the human rights commission in British Columbia. It focusses particularly on sex discrimination, and documents the political debates surrounding human rights law, analyses the role of social movements in developing the law, and discusses the working of the tribunals and human rights investigators who put the law into practice.


Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, 1785-1867, by Paul Craven, Professor, Social Science Division, York University, published by the University of Toronto Press.  Local administration and law enforcement in pre-Confederation Canada was largely done through a coterie of appointed officials, most notably the justices of the peace, but also including constables, parish officers, overseers of the poor, and the like. Justices and grand juries met at sessions courts to make local regulations, and justices and other officials enforced those regulations as well as the common law and provincial statutes. Justices exercised a minor civil jurisdiction and shared petty criminal jurisdiction with the sessions court. This system, inherited from Britain, has not previously been closely examined for Canada, and Paul Craven’s masterful study of its operation and decline is thus a landmark in our legal history. In a remarkably deeply researched study of one county, Craven explains how the system worked, who used it, and how private and public roles and interests overlapped and interacted.


Ruin and Redemption: The Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867-1919, by Thomas Telfer, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario, published by the University of Toronto Press.  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.

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