Professor Backhouse is the Distinguished Professor, University Research Chair in the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, and Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa. She researches and teaches in the areas of criminal law, human rights, legal history, and women and the law. Professor Backhouse was President of the American Society for Legal History in 2009-2011, the first non-United States scholar to hold this position.
Constance Backhouse was named to the Order of Canada in 2008 and the Order of Ontario in 2010 in recognition of her work as scholar, educator, and advocate for womens’ rights. Professor Backhouse holds a honourary doctorates from the Law Society of Upper Canada (2002), and the University of Manitoba. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2004). The 2006 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Law was given to Professor Backhouse in recognition of her outstanding contribution to legal scholarship in Canada. Professor Backhouse has received a number of prestigious awards including the Augusta Stowe Gullen Medal (1981), the Trudeau Fellowship (2006), the Killam Prize (2008), the David W. Mundell medal for Legal Writing (2011), and the SSHRC Gold Medal for Achievement in Research (2011).
In addition to her scholarly research and teaching, Professor Backhouse is an adjudicator and mediator of human rights complaints. She was elected Bencher to the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2003, and re-elected in 2007 and 2011.
Professor Backhouse has published four monographs with the Osgoode Society, and contributed a number of articles to Osgoode Society collections of essays. She has also written extensively about many aspects of our legal history in other books and journals. These publications have garnered a number of awards, and recognition as a leader in the field from the legal history community in Canada and the United States.
See also: Constance Backhouse’s website at http://www.constancebackhouse.ca/which has many of her publications available in pdf format, and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law website. Professor Backhouse can be reached at email@example.com.
Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History Books
Reckoning with Racism: Police, Judges and the RDS Case (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of British Columbia Press, 2022).
Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: A Life (Toronto: the Osgoode Society and University of British Columbia Press, 2017), 713 pp.
Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada 1900-1975 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and Irwin Law, 2008), 442 pp. Winner of the Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize, 2008.
The Heiress versus the Establishment: Mrs. Campbell’s Campaign for Legal Justice (Vancouver: The Osgoode Society and University of British Columbia Press, 2004), 321 pp. (with Nancy L. Backhouse).
Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada, 1900-1950 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1999), 485 pp. Winner of the 2002 Joseph Brant Award for Best Book in Multicultural History, Ontario Historical Association.
Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and Women’s Press, 1991), 467 pp. Winner of the J. Willard Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association, for the best book on socio-legal history for any country, 1992.
Chapters in Osgoode Society Books
‘Rape in the House of Commons: The Prosecution of Louis Auger, Ottawa, 1929’ in Jim Phillips, R. Roy McMurtry, and John T. Saywell, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Vol. X: A Tribute to Peter N. Oliver (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 33-66.
‘ “Your Conscience will be Your Own Punishment:” The Racially-Motivated Murder of Gus Ninham, London, Ontario, 1902’ in G. Blaine Baker and Jim Phillips, eds. Essays in the History of Canadian Law in Honour of R.C.B. Risk (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1999), pp. 61-114.
‘Prosecutions of Abortion under Canadian Law, 1900-1950’ in Jim Phillips, Tina Loo, and Susan Lewthwaite, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume V: Crime and Criminal Justice (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1995), pp. 252-292.
‘Nineteenth-Century Canadian Rape Law 1800-1892′ in David H. Flaherty, ed. Essays in the History of Canadian Law: Volume II (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1983), pp. 200-247.
‘Shifting Patterns in Nineteenth-Century Canadian Custody Law’ in David H. Flaherty, ed. Essays in the History of Canadian Law: Volume 1 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1981), pp. 212-248.
Other Legal History Publications
The Laskin Legacy: Essays in Commemoration of Chief Justice Bora Laskin (Toronto: Irwin law, 2007) – co-editor with Neil Finkelstein.
‘ “Pleasing Appearance…Only Adds to the Danger:” The 1930 Insanity Hearing of Violet Hypatia Bowyer’ Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol 17, 2005, pp. 1 – 14.
‘The Shining Sixpence: Women’s Worth in Canadian Law at the End of the Victorian Era’ Manitoba Law Journal, Vol 23, 1996, pp. 556-73. Republished in Chris McCormick and Len Green, eds., Crime and Deviance in Canada: Historical Perspectives (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2005), pp. 107-23.
‘Clara Brett Martin’ in Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), Vol 15, pp. 710-11.
‘Legal Discrimination Against the Chinese in Canada: The Historical Framework’ in David Dyzenhaus and Mayo Moran, eds., Calling Power to Account: Law, Reparations, and the Chinese Canadian Head Tax Case (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), pp. 24-59.
‘Viola Desmond’ in Gerald Hallowell, ed., The Oxford Companion to Canadian History (Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 179.
‘The Doctrine of Corroboration in Sexual Assault Trials in Early Twentieth Century Canada and Australia’ Queen’s Law Journal, Vol 26, 2001, pp. 297-338. Republished in Pierre Boyer, Linda Cardinal, and David Headon, eds., From Subjects to Citizens: A Hundred Years of Citizenship in Australia and Canada (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2004), pp. 123-50.
‘White Women’s Labour Laws’ in Gerald Hallowell, ed., The Oxford Companion to Canadian History (Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 662.People and Place: Historical Influences on Legal Culture (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2003), pp. 232 (co-edited with Jonathan Swainger).
‘ “Don’t You Bully Me…Justice I Want If There Is Justice to be Had:’ The Rape of Mary Ann Burton, London, Ontario, 1907′ in Jonathan Swainger and Constance Backhouse, eds. People and Place: Historical Influences on Legal Culture (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2003), pp. 60-94.
‘Attentat à la dignité du Parliament: Viol dans l’enceinte de la Chambre dus Communues, 1929,’ Ottawa Law Review, Vol 33 (2001-2002), 95-145.
‘Race definition run amuck: Slaying the dragon of Eskimo status before the Supreme Court of Canada, 1939’ in Diane Kirkby and Catharine Coleborne, eds., Law, History, Colonialism: The Reach of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), pp. 65-77.
‘ “Race,” gender and nation in history and law’ in Diane Kirkby and Catharine Coleborne, eds., Law, History, Colonialism: The Reach of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), pp. 277-300 (with Ann Curthoys, Ian Duncanson and Ann Parsonson).
‘The Mother Factor in Australian Child Custody Law 1900-1950′ Australian Journal of Legal History, Vol 6, 2000, pp. 51-111.
‘ “ Her Protests Were Unavailing:” Australian Legal Understandings of Rape, Consent and Sexuality in the Roaring Twenties’ Journal of Australian Studies, No 64, 2000, pp. 14-33.
‘Skewering the Credibility of Women: A Reappraisal of Corroboration in Australian Legal History’ University of Western Australia Law Review, Vol 29, 2000, pp. 79-107.
‘I was unable to identify with topsy’: Carrie M. Best’s Struggle against Racial Segregation in Nova Scotia,’ Atlantis, Vol 22 (1998), 16-26.
‘Gretta Wong Grant: Canada’s First Chinese-Canadian Female Lawyer’ Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol 15, 1996, pp. 3-46.
‘The White Women’s Labor Laws: Anti-Chinese Racism in Early Twentieth-Century Canada’ Law and History Review, Vol 14, 1996, pp. 315-68.
‘White Female Help and Chinese-Canadian Employers: Race, Class, Gender and Law in the Case of Yee Clun, 1924′ Canadian Ethnic Studies, Vol 26, 1994, pp. 34-52. Revised version republished in Wendy Mitchinson et al., eds,. Canadian Women: A Reader (Toronto: Harcourt, Brace, 1996), pp. 280-99.
“Racial Segregation in Canadian Legal History: Viola Desmond’s Challenge, Nova Scotia, 1946” Dalhousie Law Journal 17:2 (Fall 1994) 299-362.
“Esther Forsyth (Arscott; Barnes)” Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIII (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994) 352.
Challenging Times: The Women’s Movement in Canada and the United States (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s Press, 1992), pp. 335 (co-edited with David H. Flaherty).
‘Physicians, Abortion and the Law in Early Twentieth Century Ontario’ Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, Vol 10, 1992, pp. 229 – 249.
“Clara Brett Martin: Canadian Heroine or Not?” and “Response” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 5:2 (1992) 263-79 and 351-4.
“Married Women’s Property Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada” in Bettina Bradbury, ed. Canadian Family History: Selected Readings (Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman, 1992) 320-59.
‘The Sayer Street Outrage: Gang Rape and Male Law in 19th Century Toronto’ in Dale Gibson and W. Wesley Pue, eds., Glimpses of Canadian Legal History (Winnipeg: Legal Research Institute, 1991), pp. 47 – 70.
The Celebrated Abortion Trial of Dr. Emily Stowe, Toronto 1879″ Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 8 (1991) 159-87.
“Married Women’s Property Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada” Law and History Review 6 (1988) 211-257.
“Nineteenth Century Judicial Attitudes Toward Child Custody, Rape and Prostitution” in Sheilah L. Martin and Kathleen E. Mahoney, eds., Equality and Judicial Neutrality (Toronto: Carswell, 1987) 271-28.
“Pure Patriarchy: Nineteenth-Century Canadian Marriage” McGill Law Journal 31 (1986) 264-312.
“The Tort of Seduction: Fathers and Daughters in Nineteenth-Century Canada” Dalhousie Law Journal 10 (1986) 45-80.
“Nineteenth-Century Canadian Prostitution Law: Reflection of a Discriminatory Society” Social History/Histoire sociale 18:36 (1985) 387-423.
“To Open the Way for Others of My Sex: Clara Brett Martin’s Career as Canada’s First Woman Lawyer” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 1 (1985) 1-41.
‘Desperate Women and Compassionate Courts: Infanticide in Nineteenth Century Canada’ University of Toronto Law Journal, Vol 34, 1984, pp. 447-500.
“Canadian Prostitution Law 1839-1972” Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women Prostitution in Canada (Ottawa, 1984) 7-18.
“Involuntary Motherhood: Abortion, Birth Control and the Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada” Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 3 (1983) 61-130.