Marilyn Macfarlane – the Glue That Binds

After a remarkable career, Marilyn Macfarlane has retired from the Osgoode Society. Marilyn was the first and only administrator of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History for over 40 years. During that period, over 100 books were published and over 600 oral histories compiled. Throughout it all, Marilyn served as the point person between the Society, and the many authors, publishers and members of the legal community who were part of the process. Known for her gracious manner, thoughtfulness and careful attention to detail, Marilyn was truly the glue that bound its many disparate parts and personalities together.

My first contact with her was in 1988 when Carswell entered into an agreement with the Society to jointly publish The Last Day, the Last Hour by Robert J. Sharpe. The book was to be published commercially by Carswell and as a volume in the Osgoode Society series. An issue arose regarding the book cover design. From a commercial perspective, the dowdy purple cover chosen for all Osgoode Society books would not help sales in the commercial marketplace. A compromise was easily reached whereby a dust jacked designed by award winning book designer Peter Sibbald Brown encased all of the copies sold by Carswell. To this day, I believe that The Last Day, the Last Hour is the Osgoode Society’s best selling publication.

In the following years, she was the ever present face of the Osgoode Society at conferences and book launches, as well as the steady force that kept the oral history project from going off the rails. Membership was also one of her concerns, as I can attest to from the many reminders I received advising me that I was behind in paying my renewal fee. My happy experiences were undoubtedly shared by many others. She will be missed.

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