A History of Law in Canada Volume II: Law for the New Dominion, 1867-1914

By Jim Phillips, Philip Girard, and R. Blake Brown, published by the University of Toronto Press.

Winner of  the Canadian Law and Society Association Prize for the best book published in 2022.

Jim Phillips is Professor of Law and History at the University of Toronto. Philip Girard is Professor of Law and History at Osgoode Hall Law School/ York University. Blake Brown is Professor of History at St Mary’s University, Halifax. This is the second volume of what will be a three-volume history of law in what is now Canada. The main theme of A History of Law in Canada Volume II is encapsulated in its sub-title:  Law for the New Dominion. As a new state on the global stage, Canada tried to use law to weld into one nation several disparate settler colonies established on Indigenous lands. But unity was elusive:  Canada had to recognize Quebec civil law and tried to override or replace Indigenous law even as it faced challenges to its own authority, from the Northwest Rebellion to the claims of restive provincial premiers.  The volume deals with all aspects of Canadian law and legal institutions, with chapters on the constitution, courts and judges, sources of law (common law, civil law, Indigenous law and statutes), the legal profession, Canadian law and Indigenous peoples (3 chapters), criminal law, law and the economy, labour law, property law, the law affecting women’s status, and civil rights and minorities.



A History of Law in Canada Volume II was awarded the Wesley Pue Book Prize by the Canadian Law and Society Association. The citation which accompanied the Prize reads: “With A History of Law in Canada, Volume 2, Jim Phillips, Philip Girard and R. Blake Brown have significantly contributed to law and society scholarship with a monumental book of legal history. Comprehensive and meticulously sourced, [the book] … illustrates how plural legal orders—Indigenous law, common law and civil law—were impacted by the process of developing and consolidating a national legal order in Canada, and how fundamental aspects of the Canadian legal order took form between 1867 and 1914….  A new and outstanding work in law and society”.

“Phillips, Girard and Brown have delivered a thoughtful interpretative treatment for what they present as idiosyncratic years. The result, along with the first volume and the promised third volume, will stand as an extraordinary and thought provoking contribution to the nation’s legal history’. Jonathan Swainger, Canadian Historical Review, Vol 104, 2023, pp. 607-609.