The Federal Court of Canada: A History, 1875-1992

by Ian Bushnell. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 1997.

The Federal Court of Canada, existing from 1875 to 1971 under the name Exchequer Court of Canada, has occupied a special place in the court structure of Canada. Established principally to adjudicate legal disputes in which the Canadian government was involved, it has, since its change of name in 1971, become primarily an administrative court dealing with federal administrative tribunals. As a federal court within the nation its very existence provokes discussion and debate as the various provincial court systems claim a position of primacy for the adjudication of legal disputes. Central to the history of the Court is an examination of the judges who have sat on its bench. Who the judges were is presented, and their work is examined, with particular focus on the judges’ views of the proper approach to decision-making.

Reviews of The Federal Court of Canada: A History, 1875-1992

‘Ian Bushnell has thoroughly research the legal sources, including the case law and the secondary literature.... The result is a solid institutional history, focusing not on the substantive law within the court's jurisdiction but on the court as an institution made up of judges and established for the settling of disputes.’  Carol Wilton, American Journal of Legal History, vol 42, 1998, p. 463.
‘Readers will find here a fount of information on a wide variety of social, economic and legal issues. They will also enjoy the judicious use of oral interviews to supplement the legal record for the post-1945 era. There is a series of clearly produced portrait's of the Court's judges....Finally, the book is unusually well written for a subject that is complex in nature and quite technical in its language. The Court itself should be proud of a history that probably goes far beyond anything that it expected to achieve in such short order.’  Louis A. Knafla, Manitoba Law Journal, vol. 26, 1998, p. 145.

Reviews have also appeared in the following publications:

  • Donald Fyson, Revue d’histoire de l’Amerique française, Vol 53, 2000, p. 608.
  • Patricia Hughes, Canadian Historical Review, Vol 80, 1999, p. 709.
  • Murray L. Smith, Advocate (Vancouver Bar Association), Vol 57, 1999, p. 931.
  • Peter McCormick, Canadian Public Administration, Vol 41, 1998, p. 462.
  • Terry McDonald, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol 13, 1998, p. 400.