09 October 2018

BOOK: Jim PHILLIPS, Philip GIRARD, and R. BLAKE BROWN, A History of Law in Canada, Vol. 1 - Beginnings to 1866 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018). ISBN 9781487504632, $90.00

The University of Toronto Press is publishing the first of two volumes on the legal history of Canada.  


This book is the first of two volumes devoted to the history of law in Canada. This volume begins at a time just prior to European contact and continues to the 1860s, while volume two will start with Confederation and end at approximately 2000. The history of law includes substantive law, legal institutions, legal actors and legal culture. The book assumes that since 1500 there have been three legal systems in Canada – the Indigenous, the French, and the English. At all times, these systems have co-existed and interacted, with the relative power and influence of each being more or less dominant in different periods.

The history of law cannot be treated in isolation, and this book examines law as a dynamic process, shaped by and affecting other histories over the long term. The law guided and was guided by economic developments, was influenced and moulded by the nature and trajectory of political ideas and institutions, and variously exacerbated and mediated by inter-cultural exchange and conflict. These themes are apparent in this examination, and through most areas of law including family law, constitutional, commercial, land settlement and tenure, and criminal.


Jim Phillips is a professor in the faculty of law at the University of Toronto.

Philip Girard is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.

R. Blake Brown is a professor in the Department of History and Atlantic Canada Studies at Saint Mary’s University. 

More information here

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