11 June 2020

BOOK: Lyndsay CAMPBELL, Ted MCCOY, and Mélanie MÉTHOT, eds., Canada’s Legal Pasts: Looking Forward, Looking Back (Calgary: University of Calgary, 2020). ISBN 978-1-77385-118-1, OPEN ACCESS

The University of Calgary Press is publishing a new, open-access book on Canadian legal history.


Canada’s Legal Pasts presents new essays on a range of topics and episodes in Canadian legal history, provides an introduction to legal methodologies, shows researchers new to the field how to locate and use a variety of sources, and includes a combined bibliography arranged to demonstrate best practices in gathering and listing primary sources. It is an essential welcome for scholars who wish to learn about Canada’s legal pasts—and why we study them.

Telling new stories—about a fishing vessel that became the subject of an extraordinarily long diplomatic dispute, young Northwest Mounted Police constables subject to an odd mixture of police discipline and criminal procedure, and more—this book presents the vibrant evolution of Canada’s legal tradition. Explorations of primary sources, including provincial archival records that suggest how Quebec courts have been used in interfamilial conflict, newspaper records that disclose the details of bigamy cases, and penitentiary records that reveal the details of the lives and legal entanglements of Canada’s most marginalized people, show the many different ways of researching and understanding legal history.

This is Canadian legal history as you’ve never seen it before. Canada’s Legal Pasts dives into new topics in Canada’s fascinating history and presents practical approaches to legal scholarship, bringing together established and emerging scholars in collection essential for researchers at all levels.


Lyndsay Cambell is an associate professor at the University of Calgary, cross-appointed between the Faculty of Law and the Department of History. She is the co-editor of Freedom’s Conditions in the U.S.-Canada Borderlands in the Age of Emancipation.

Ted McCoy is an assistant professor in Sociology at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Hard Time: Reforming the Penitentiary in Nineteenth-Century Canada and Four Unruly Women: Stories of Incarceration and Resistance from Canada’s Most Notorious Prison.

Mélanie Méthot is an associate professor of History at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus and the recipient of a SSHRC Grant for her research on bigamy in Canada. She is the founder of the Augustana Conference on Undergraduate Research and Innovative Teaching.

With Contributions By: Nick Austin, Dominique Clément, Angela Fernandez, Jean-Philippe Garneau, Shelly A.M. Gavigan, Alexandra Havrylyshyn, Louis A. Knafla, Catherine McMillan, Eric A. Reiter, and Christopher Shorey


Foreword: A Student’s Take on Canada’s Legal Pasts
Nick Austin
Introduction: Canada’s Legal Pasts: Looking Forward, Looking Back
Ted McCoy, Lyndsay Campbell, Mélanie Méthot
Part I: Illuminating Cases
Family Defamation in Quebec: The View from the Archives
Eric H. Reiter
Writing Penitentiary History
Ted McCoy
Analyzing Bigamy Cases without Archival Records: It Is Possible
Mélanie Méthot
Trial Pamphlets and Newspaper Accounts
Lyndsay Campbell
The Last Voyage of the Frederick Gerring, Jr
Christopher Shorey
The Textbook Edition of Kent’s Commentaries Used in the Gerring
Angela Fernandez
Part II: Exploring Systems
Empire’s Law: Archives and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
Catharine MacMillan
Practising Law in the “Lawyerless” Colony of New France
Alexandra Havrylyshyn
Poursuivre son mari en justice au Bas-Canada: femmes mariées et coutume de Paris devant la cour du Banc du roi (1795-1830)
Jean-Philippe Garneau
Getting Their Man: The NWMP as Accused in the Territorial Criminal Court in the Canadian North-West, 1876-1905
Shelley A.M. Gavigan
Part III: Writing Legal History: Past, Present and Future
Sex Discrimination in Law: From Equal Citizenship to Human Rights Law
Dominique Clément
Legal-Historical Writing for the Canadian Prairies: Past, Present, Future
Louis A. Knafla
Primary source bibliography
Secondary source bibliography

More info here

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