Jonathan Swainger

Dr Jonathan Swainger is a professor of history at the University of Northern British Columbia. He has been there since 1992 after he spent a year at the University of Calgary. After eight years teaching in the Peace River region he relocated to the main campus in Prince George where he has worked since 2001. His research interests are Canadian legal and crime history, and he is particularly interested in the Peace River region; he is currently writing a book-length study on crime in the region from 1910 to 1960. He can be reached at


Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History Books

The Alberta Supreme Court at 100: History and Authority (Edmonton: The Osgoode Society and University of Alberta Press, 2007) 366 pp.

Chapters in Osgoode Society Books

‘ “Not in Keeping with the Traditions of the Cariboo Courts”: Courts and Community Identity in Northeastern British Columbia, 1920-1950’ in Hamar Foster, Benjamin Berger, and A.R. Buck,  eds, The Grand Experiment: Law and Legal Culture in British Settler Societies (Toronto and Vancouver: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History and UBC Press, 2008), pp.  176-194.

‘Ideology, Social Capital, and Entrepreneurship: Lawyers and Business in Red Deer, Alberta, 1900-1920,’ in Carol Wilton, ed., Beyond the Law: Lawyers and Business in Canada, 1830-1930 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 1990), pp. 377-402.

‘Judicial Scandal and the Culture of Patronage in Early Confederation, 1867-78’ in Jim Phillips, R. Roy McMurtry, and John T. Saywell, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume X: A Tribute to Peter N. Oliver (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 222 – 254

‘A Distant Edge of Authority: Capital Punishment and the Prerogative of Mercy in British Columbia, 1872 – 1880’ in Hamar Foster and John McLaren, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law Volume VI: British Columbia and the Yukon (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1995), pp. 204-241.


Other Legal History Publications

‘Teen Trouble and Community Identity in Post-Second World War Northern British Columbia,’ Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 47, 2013, pp. 1-30.

‘Law and the practice of politics in the Canadian Department of Justice: Completing Confederation,’ Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, Vol 63, 2012, pp. 417-433.

Laws and Societies in the Canadian Prairie West, 1670-1940 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005), 344 pp. (editor with Louis A. Knafla)

People and Place: Historical Influences on Legal Culture (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2003), 232 pp. (editor with Constance Backhouse)

The Canadian Department of Justice and the Completion of Confederation (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2000), 167 pp.

‘American Crime Comics as Villains: An Incident from Northern Canada’  Legal Studies Forum, Vol 22, 1998, pp. 215-232.

‘Wagging Tongues and Empty Heads: Patriotism of Wartime in Central Alberta, 1914-1917,’ in Louis A. Knafla and Susan Binnie, eds., Law, State and Society: Essays in Modern Legal History (Toronto, 1995), pp. 263-89.

‘ “Dime Novel Toughs”: Legal Culture and Criminal Law in Red Deer, Alberta, 1907-1920,’ Criminal Justice History–An International Annual, Vol. 14, 1993, pp. 109-133.

‘A Bench in Disarray: The Quebec Judiciary and The Federal Department of Justice, 1867-1878’ in Cahiers de Droit, Vol 34, 1993, pp. 59-92.