John McLaren is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Victoria Law School and one of Canada’s foremost legal historians. A prolific author, scholar, and educator, McLaren’s research focusses mostly on comparative colonial law, social justice, cultural diversity, religion, and public morality in the context of legal history. His interest is particularly in contested interpretations of the rule of law in British colonies, as well as the accountability and tenure of judges in those colonies. Professor McLaren has taught at a number of law schools in Canada: the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Windsor (where he was Dean), the University of Calgary (where he was the founding Dean of Law) and the University of Victoria (where he was Lansdowne Professor of Law until 2006, when he became Professor Emeritus). He has served on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and is active in refugee and social justice causes. Professor McLaren also co-founded the Canadian Law and Society Association, and served as a committee member for the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society.
He has received multiple awards for his work, including the University of Victoria’s 2008 Legacy Award for Research and the 2008 Craigdarroch Gold Medal for Career Achievement in Research. Professor McLaren co-authored the Fraser Committee report on Pornography and Prostitution in Canada. The Grand Experiment: Law & Legal Culture in British Settler Societies was a festschrift celebrating his scholarship. He continues to be very active in the field; his is one of the organisers of the inaugural Conference on the Legal Histories of the British Empire, Singapore, July 2012.
Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History Books
Dewigged, Bothered, and Bewildered: British Colonial Judges on Trial, 1800-1900 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and the University of Toronto Press, 2011; also copublished with the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History), 432 pp.
Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume VI: British Columbia and the Yukon (Toronto: Osgoode Society, 1995), pp. 583 (co-edited with Hamar Foster).
Chapters in Osgoode Society Books
‘Afterword: Looking from the Past to the Future’ in Hamar Foster, Benjamin L. Berger, and A.R. Buck, eds., The Grand Experiment: Law an Legal Culture in British Settler Societies (Vancouver: Osgoode Society for Canadian legal History and University of British Columbia Press, 2009), pp. 268 – 276.
‘The Rule of Law and Irish Whig Constitutionalism in Upper Canada: William Warren Baldwin, the “Irish Opposition” and the Volunteer Connection’ in Jim Phillips, Roy McMurtry and John Saywell, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume X: In Honour of Peter Oliver (Toronto: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 320-350.
‘Race and the Criminal Justice System in British Columbia, 1892-1920: Constructing Chinese Crimes’ in G.Blaine Baker and Jim Phillips, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume VIII: In Honour of R.C.B. Risk (Toronto: The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and University of Toronto Press, 1998), pp. 398 – 441.
‘ “Hard Choices and Sharp Edges”: The Legal History of British Columbia and the Yukon’ in Hamar Foster and John McLaren, eds. Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume VI: British Columbia and the Yukon (Toronto: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and the University of Toronto Press, 1995), pp. 3 – 27 (with Hamar Foster).
‘Creating “Slaves of Satan” or “New Canadians”?: The Law, Education and the Socialization of Doukhobor Children’ in Hamar Foster and John McLaren, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume VI: British Columbia and the Yukon (Toronto: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and University of Toronto Press, 1995), pp. 352 – 385.
Other Legal History Publications
‘Men of Principle or Judicial Ratbags – the Trials and Tribulations of Maverick Colonial Judges in the 19th Century or a Funny Way to Run an Empire’ Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, Vol 27, 2009, pp. 145-168.
‘For the Better Administration of Justice: The Court of Appeal for British Columbia 1910-2010” BC Studies, Vol 162, 2009, pp. 5-24 (with Hamar Foster).
The British Columbia Court of Appeal 1910-2010, special issue of BC Studies, vol 162, 2009, pp. 146, co-edited with Hamar Foster and Wesley Pue.
Despotic Dominion: Property Rights in British Settler Societies (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005), pp. 312 (co-edited with A.R. Buck, and Nancy E. Wright).
In above volume: ‘Property Rights in the Colonial Imagination and Experience’ in with A. R. Buck and Nancy E. Wright, pp. 1 – 21; ‘The Failed Experiments: The Demise of Doukhobor Systems of Communal Property Landholding in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, 1899-1999,’ pp. 222-247.
‘The Memory of Property: The Challenge of Using the Past to Enlighten the Lawyers of the Future’ in Peter Farrugia, ed., The River of History: Trans-National and Trans-Disciplinary Perspectives on the Immanence of the Past (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005), pp. 79-102.
‘The Law and Public Nudity: Prairie and West Coast Reactions to the Sons of Freedom, 1929-1932’ in Louis A. Knafla and Jonathan Swainger, eds., Law and Societies in the Canadian Prairie West, 1670-1940 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005), pp. 309-322.
‘The Head Tax Case and the Rule of Law: The Historical Thread of Judicial Resistance to “Legalized” Discrimination’ in David Dyznehaus and Mayo Moran, eds., Calling Power to Account: Law, Reparations, and the Chinese Canadian Head Tax Case (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), pp. 92-112.
‘The Judicial Office . . Bowing to No Power but the Supremacy of the Law: Judges and the Rule of Law in Colonial Australia and Canada, 1788-1840′ Australian Journal of Legal History, Vol 7, 2003, pp. 177-192.
‘ “The King, the People, the Law … and the Constitution”: Justice Robert Thorpe and the Roots of Irish Whig Ideology in Early Upper Canada’ in Jonathan Swainger and Constance Backhouse, eds., People and Place: Historical Influences on Legal Culture (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2003), pp. 11-24.
‘In the Northern Archives Something Stirred: The Discovery of Canadian Legal History’ Australian Journal of Legal History, Vol 7, 2003, pp. 73-86.
Regulating Lives: Historical Essays on the State, Society, the Individual, and and the Law (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002), pp. 314 (co-edited with John, Robert Menzies, and Dorothy E. Chunn).
In above volume: ‘Introduction’ with Robert Menzies and Dorothy Chunn), pp. 1 – 22; ‘The State, Child Snatching, and the Law: Seizure and Indoctrination of Sons of Freedom Children in British Columbia’, pp. 259 – 293; and ‘Postlude,’ with Robert Menzies, and Dorothy E. Chunn, pp. 294-305
‘Reflections on the Rule of Law: The Georgian Colonies of New South Wales and Upper Canada, 1788-1837′ in Diane Kirkby and Catharine Coleborne, eds. Law, History, Colonialism: The Reach of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), pp. 46-62.
Land and Freedom: Law, Property Rights and the British Diaspora (Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2001), pp. 201 (co-edited with Andrew Buck and Nancy Wright).
“History’s Living Legacy: An Outline of ‘Modern Historiography of the Common Law’” Legal Studies, Vol 21, 2001, pp. 251-324 (with Keith Smith).
‘ “Webbing the Pacific” – Teaching an Intercontinental Legal History Course’ Law and History, Vol 18, 2000, pp. 445-456.
The Despicable Crime of Nudity: Law, the State, and Civil Protest among the Sons of Freedom Sect of Doukhobors, 1899-1935′ Journal of the West, Vol 38, 1999, pp. 27-33.
‘ “Community Without Propinquity” – Teaching Legal History Intercontinentally’ Legal Education Review, Vol 10, 1999, pp. 1-32 (with S. Bronitt, D. Harris, I. Holloway and W. Pue).
‘The Doukohbor Belief in Individual Faith and Conscience and the Demands of the Secular State’ in Harold Coward and John McLaren, eds., Religious Conscience, the State, and the Law: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Significance (Albany: SUNY Press,1998) pp. 117-135.
Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver: Essays in the Legal History of the North American West (Regina: Centre for Plains Research, and California: Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, 1992), pp. 322 (co-edited with H. Foster and C. Orloff).
The Burdens of Empire and the Legalization of White Supremacy in Canada’ in W. Gordon and T. Ferguson, eds., Legal History in the Making (London: Hambledon Press, 1991) pp. 187-199.
‘The Early British Columbia Supreme Court and the “Chinese Question”: Echoes of the Rule of Law’ Manitoba Law Journal, Vol 20, 1991, pp. 107-147.
‘A Plea for History’ in A. Esau and J. Penner, eds., Lawyering and Legal Education into the 21st Century (Winnipeg: Legal Research Institute, 1990), pp. 53-62.
‘Maternal Feminism in Action – Emily Murphy, Police Magistrate’ Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol 8, 1989, pp. 234-251.
‘White Slavers: The Reform of Canada’s Prostitution Laws and Patterns of Enforcement, 1900-1920′ Criminal Justice History, Vol 8, 1987, pp. 53-119.
Chasing the Social Evil: Moral Fervour and the Evolution of Canada’s Prostitution Laws’ (1986) Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Vol 1, 1986, pp. 125- 166.
‘The Tribulations of Antoine Ratté: A Case Study of the Environmental Regulation of the Canadian Lumber Industry in the 19th Century’ University of New Brunswick Law Journal, Vol 33, 1984, pp. 203-260.
‘Nuisance and the Industrial Revolution: Some Lessons from Social History’ Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol 3, 1983, pp. 155-221. Also in Sanda Rodgers and F. Steel, eds., Issues in Canadian Tort Law (Toronto: Carswell, 1982) pp. 313-376.
‘The Origins of Tortious Liability – Some Insights from Contemporary Tribal Societies’ University of Toronto Law Journal, Vol 25, 1975, pp. 42-93.
The Canadian Doukhobors and the Land Question: Religious Communalists in a Fee Simple World’ in A.R. Buck, John McLaren and Nancy Wright, eds., Land and Freedom: Law, Property Rights and the British Diaspora (Aldershot,: Ashgate Press, 2001), pp. 135.
Meeting the Challenges of Canadian Legal History: The Albertan Contribution’ Alberta Law Review, Vol 32, 1994, pp. 423-435.
‘The Legal Historian, Masochist or Missionary? A Canadian’s Reflections’ Legal Education Review, Vol 5, 1994, pp. 67-104.
‘Emily Ferguson Murphy’ in Rebecca Mae Salokar and Mary L. Volcansek, eds., Women in Law, A BioBibliographical Sourcebook (Westport Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1996), pp. 190-201.
“Recalculating the Wages of Sin”: The Social and Legal Construction of Prostitution, 1850-1920′ Manitoba Law Journal, Vol 23, 1996, pp. 524-555.
‘The History of Legal Education in Common Law Canada’ in R. Matas and D. McCawley, eds., Legal Education in Canada (Montreal: Federation of Law Societies, 1987), pp. 111.
‘The Canadian Magistracy and the Anti-White Slavery Campaign, 1900-1920’ in J. Wright and W. Pue, eds., Canadian Perspectives on Law and Society: Essays on Law in History (Carleton: Carleton U.P., 1989), pp. 329.
‘ “Enforcing Canada’s Prostitution Laws, 1892-1920”: Rhetoric and Practice’ in Martin L. Freidland, ed., Securing Compliance: Seven Case Studies (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), pp. 21 (with John Lowman).
‘Recalculating the Wages of Sin: The Social and Legal Construction of Prostitution, 1850-1920’ in De Lloyd Guth and Wesley Pue, eds., Canada’s Legal Inheritances (Winnipag: Canadian Legal History Project, University of Manitoba, 2001), pp. 524.
“New Canadians” or “Slaves of Satan”? The Law and the Education of Doukhobor Children, 1911-1935′ in J. Barman N. Sutherland and J.D. Wilson, eds., Children, Teachers and Their Schools in the History of British Columbia (Calgary: Detselig, 1995), pp. 147.
Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver: Tracking the Beasts’ in H. Foster J. McLaren and C. Orloff, eds., Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver: Essays in the Legal History of the North American West (Regina and Pasadena: Canadian Plains Research Centre/Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, 1992), pp. 1 (with Hamar Foster).
‘The Early British Columbia Judges, the Rule of Law, and the “Chinese Question”: The California and Oregon Connection’ in John McLaren, Hamar Foster, and Chet Orloff, eds., Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver: Essays in the Legal History of the North American West (Regina and Pasadena: Canadian Plains Research Centre/Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, 1992), pp. 233-??.
The Early British Supreme Court and the “Chinese Question”: Echoes of the Rule of Law’ in W. Pue and D. Gibson, eds., Glimpses of Canadian Legal History (Winnipeg: Legal Research Institute, 1991), pp. 111.
Now You See It, Now You Don’t: The Historical Record and the Elusive Task of Defining the Obscene’ in D. Schneiderman, ed., Freedom of Expression and the Charter (Toronto: Carswell, 1991), pp. 101.