Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ideas for the Hard-to-buy-for Historian #7

Today's suggestion comes from Constance Backhouse, law professor and historian, as well as an elected bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and most recently the author of Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975. When I contacted her, Constance was travelling with Governor-General Michaelle Jean's about-to-be-truncated European tour:
If I were to recommend a book without access to my book collection, it would be Philip Girard’s biography of Bora Laskin [Bora Laskin: Bringing Law to Life, 2005] Professor Girard is one of the finest legal historians in Canada, and his book is based on extraordinary research. It also provides what is probably the best information in print so far about the history of anti-Semitism in the Canadian legal profession. It is just a start…much yet remains to be written…but it is a superb start.

If I were to recommend something other than a book, it would be ….wait for it…membership in the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. If the former chief justice R. Roy McMurtry can sign up 600 people single-handed, surely putting the organization on your holiday list might add a dozen or so more.

One last thought – send someone a beautiful card, offering to take them to lunch at Osgoode Hall in the Law Society’s dining room. “Take a legal history buff to lunch.” While there, go on a tour of the public areas of the building and read the names of every judge/lawyer whose portrait hangs on the walls. See if you can identify some fact about at least 5 of these, and reward yourself with a prize if you can – an extra serving of dessert. The Law Society chef’s desserts are totally delectable and worth any weight-gain that follows.

Carnal Crimes will be the subject of my column in Law Times in the week of December 8.
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