Tuesday, September 11, 2012

History of Beach o' Pines

Mitt Romney has had so much mockery for that time he hauled Seamus the dog across southern Ontario on the roof of his car that it's almost like piling on to make another story out of that trip.

But what the hell. In Law Times, Paul Legall makes a nice link from Romney, to the Grand Bend, Ontario, vacation community called Beach o' Pines where the Romney summer place is, to a famous legal case:  Noble and Wolf v Alley. Back in the 1930s, when Beach o' Pines was developed on the Lake Huron shore, it had a restrictive covenant: only people of  "white or Caucasian race" could buy in, and owners had to agree specifically never to sell to Jews or blacks.

In the 1940s Bernard Wolf, a Jewish businessman from London, Ont., bought a Beach o' Pines cottage, and then he and the seller discovered the covenant. Their efforts to break it became a test case on how much discrimination Canadian law would tolerate in the 1950s, and it went all the way to the Supreme Court, as Legall describes.

It's actually nothing to do with the Romneys (I wonder how Beach o'Pines would have felt about Mormons in the 1930s). They are just the hook for the story, but it's a nicely told bit of legal history.
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