Osgoode Society Books

Our books are listed here chronologically by date of publication. Use the Search function to the right to find a particular book, or author.

Book Sale – December 11-31, 2020

Selected books are on sale for $10 ($5 for members) if picking up from Osgoode Hall or $13 ($8 for members) if shipping is required. You’ll find purchase links on the individual book pages.


Our members’ book for 2020 is Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinabe Governance through Alliance, by Heidi Bohaker, Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto and published by the University of Toronto Press. While Canada’s constitution protects Indigenous treaty rights, Canadians know much less about the legal traditions of Indigenous nations and the ways in which these different traditions informed treaties made between Indigenous peoples and the Crown. This volume is a ground-breaking exploration of one Indigenous legal tradition. In it, the author explains how a uniquely Anishinaabe category of kinship, the doodem, structured governance and law as practiced in formal councils (referred to metaphorically as fires) through the practice of alliance formation.  Such alliances created relationships of interdependence, which were renewed through the exchange of gifts in council. The records of early Canadian treaties, Bohaker argues, are to be found in the records of gifts exchanged to create these alliances between council fires; the Anishinaabe treated the French, and later the British, as if their governments were council fires also.  In return, colonial officials adhered to Indigenous law when they entered into treaties. Bohaker weaves together a voluminous amount of research from both Anishinaabe and European sources, including archival documents and material culture from institutions in Canada, Britain and France, to describe the continuities and changes in Anishinaabe governance and law until settler colonial law (the Indian Act) replaced traditional governance with elected band councils.


In 2020 we are also publishing  The Death Penalty and Sex Murder in Canadian History, by Professor Carolyn Strange of the Australian National University in Canberra.  This major study of the operation of the death penalty focusses on the disposition by executive review of all cases between Confederation and the abolition of the death penalty in which the offender not only committed murder but did so at the same time as he (or she) also committed a serious sexual offence. Professor Strange is able to show that such offenders fared much less well in the commutation process than other people convicted of murder and sentenced to death. As importantly, she divides the overall narrative into six periods, showing that within each period political, administrative and public consideration of the cases were conducted against a background of other concerns, ranging from the ‘danger’ of immigrants to the rise of psychiatric concern with such offenders to the abolition movement of the 1960s.


Criminal Law

  • Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914

    By Bradley Miller, Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, published by the University of Toronto Press. This is the first comprehensive history of cross-border Canadian-American interactions in relation to fugitive criminals, escaped slaves, and refugees. Miller examines the complexity of those interactions, which involved formal legal regimes governed by treaties as well… Read more »

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  • The African Canadian Legal Odyssey: Historical Essays

    edited by Barrington Walker, Professor, Department of History, Queens University. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 2012. One of the central themes of the new legal history of the past two decades has been exploration of the law’s role in shaping the lives and experiences of historically marginalised groups in our society. The Osgoode… Read more »

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  • Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada

    R. Blake Brown, Professor of History, St Mary’s University. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 2012.  $45.00; Student Price: $20.00. The topic of gun control is never far from the public eye in this country, taking centre stage whenever a dramatic shooting occurs and invariably featuring in debates about Canadian-American distinctions.  This is the… Read more »

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  • Westward Bound: Sex, Violence, the Law, and the Making of a Settler Society

    by Lesley Erickson, Independent Historian and Researcher, Vancouver. Published with  UBC Press, 2011. The history of crime and punishment is one of the principal lenses through which historians of the law investigate the relationship between the law in the books and the ‘law in action,’ and the uses of law to regulate relations among social… Read more »

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  • The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884

    by Robert J. Sharpe, Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 2011. Robert Sharpe is one of the Osgoode Society’s most prolific authors, and his latest offering is a compelling account of a late nineteenth century murder case in Picton, Ontario.  This very thoroughly researched and engagingly… Read more »

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  • A Trying Question: The Jury in Nineteenth Century Canada

    by R. Blake Brown, Professor of History, St Mary’s University. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 2009. The jury has long been a central institution of both the trial process in particular and of the ideology of the common law in general, a body exemplifying the distinctiveness of our legal tradition. In this first book-length… Read more »

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  • Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900-1975

    by Constance Backhouse, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa. Published with Irwin Law, 2008. An engaging and powerful book about sexual assault crimes in Canadian history, by Professor Constance Backhouse, whose previous books for the Osgoode Society have won major awards. Using a case-study approach, Professor Backhouse explores nine sexual assault trials from across the country… Read more »

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  • My Life in Crime and other Academic Adventures

    by Martin Friedland, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 2007. Professor Martin Friedland has been involved in many areas of legal research and law reform in his career, and the Osgoode Society is very pleased to be able to publish his account of that involvement, especially as… Read more »

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  • Magistrates, Police and People: Everyday Criminal Justice in Quebec and Lower Canada, 1764-1837

    by Donald Fyson, Professor of History, Universite Laval. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 2006. This book is a study of everyday criminal justice in Quebec and Lower Canada between the Conquest and the Rebellions, concentrating on the justices of the peace and the police. The first half explores the criminal justice system itself: the… Read more »

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  • Searching for Justice: An Autobiography

    by Fred Kaufman, Quebec Court of Appeal, retired. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 2005. As one reviewer wrote, this is a ‘a tale well told of a remarkable life well lived.’ Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna in the mid-twenties, Kaufman managed to leave his native city on one of the last… Read more »

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