Four Choice Titles From the Osgoode Society

…and a love-in for Roy McMurtry

The Osgoode Society held its annual book launch last Wednesday at Osgoode Hall. The event was a stellar occasion, with many celebrity authors and guests in attendance and four choice titles to applaud. Authors Charlotte Gray and Roy McMurtry in particular helped draw a record crowd that included among many notable jurists, Aharon Barak, a former chief justice of Israel, and Rosalie Abella, a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and the leading cheerleader for legal research and writing in Canada.

McMurtry himself was the object of a virtual “love-in” as long time friends, admirers, and former associates lined up in droves to congratulate him after the obligatory speeches were over. His fans came from many different backgrounds, reflecting the varied interests he pursued over his career, including his role as the “god father” of the Osgoode Society. As one of his admirers noted, “Despite his advanced age, Roy McMurtry remains as determined as ever to continue to play a meaningful role in Canadian public life – there are still windmills at which to tilt and memoirs yet to be written.” So true.

The List

This year’s list includes another instalment in the Osgoode’s Society’s essays in the history of Canadian law, a notable attempt to support original research and writing on the often overlooked history of the law as it affects everyman and everywoman; Ian Kyer’s informed and interesting history of the Faskens law firm; Charlotte Gray’s exciting story of a challenge to one of the elite families of Canada; and Roy McMurty’s own account of his life and times.

Essays in the History of Canadian Law – Volume XI: Quebec and the Canadas, edited by G. Blaine Baker and Donald Fyson

This latest volume in the Essays in the History of Canadian Law series, with which Osgoode Society launched our publishing programme in 1981, is the first devoted to central Canada – what is now Ontario and Quebec before Confederation. Anchored by a comprehensive introduction exploring the main themes of the legal history of the region, a group of distinguished historians from have contributed 11 substantive essays (three in French), on subjects as varied as women in court, grand juries, western law and aboriginal peoples, gun use and control, Quebec legal literature, married women’s property, and imprisonment for debt – The Osgoode Society and the University of Toronto Press

Lawyers, Families, and Businesses: The Shaping of a Bay Street Law Firm, Faskens 1863-1963, by C. Ian Kyer.

In Lawyers, Families, and Businesses: The Shaping of a Bay Street Law Firm, Faskens 1863–1963, noted lawyer and historian, Ian Kyer, provides a superbly researched and fascinating study of the origins and development of the law firm now known as Fasken Martineau DuMoulin. Beginning in colonial Toronto in 1863 where two young lawyers, William Henry Beatty and Edward Marion Chadwick, established their partnership in “one room, half furnished,” Kyer follows the first 100 years of mergers, redirections, challenges, and advances that today have resulted in an international firm of over 700 lawyers practising on three continents. In the process of giving readers a view of the evolution of the practice of law in Canada as seen from the perspective of one particular firm, Kyer also provides in-depth and original accounts of the interrelationships among law firms, family connections, business development, and political influence in Canadian history.

This is neither a dry academic work nor a self-congratulatory firm history. It is an insightful, compelling, social history of one of Canada’s most important law firms – Irwin Law

The Massey Murder: A Maid, her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Nation, by Charlotte Gray

In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and klled on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was retuning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18 year old domestic servant quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant. When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against the backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing face of a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.

As in her previous best selling book, Gold Diggers – now in production as a Discovery Television miniseries – multi-award winning historian and biographer Charlotte Gray has created a captivating narrative rich in detail and brimming with larger than life personalities, as she shines a light on a central moment of our past – Harper Collins

Finally, Memoirs and Reflections by R. Roy McMurtry

From “the Kid” on the Varsity Blues football team to the “Chief” at Osgoode Hall, R. Roy McMurtry has had a remarkably varied and influential career. As reformist attorney general of Ontario, one of the architects of the agreement that brought about the patriation of the Canadian Constitution, high commissioner to the United Kingdom, and chief justice of Ontario, he made a large and enduring contribution to Canadian law, politics and life.

These memoirs cover all these facets of his remarkable career, as well as his law pracice, his work on various commissions of inquiry, and his reflections on family, sport and art. This volume is both an account of his life in pubic service and a portrait of a humane, humorous, still optimistic, and always decent man – University of Toronto Press

No account of an Osgoode Society event would be complete without a suggestion that gifts be purchased in the coming Holiday Season from its outstanding catalogue of published titles. Check it out on the Osgoode Society’s website. The Society depends on the kindness of both strangers and friends to support its activities in bringing to light the history of Canadian law.

Comments are closed.