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Biography & Autobiography Lawyers & Judges

Claire L’Heureux-Dubé

A Life

by (author) Constance Backhouse

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2017
Lawyers & Judges, Courts, Gender & the Law
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price

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Both lionized and vilified, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé has shaped the Canadian legal landscape – and in particular its highest court. Only the second woman on the Supreme Court of Canada, L’Heureux-Dubé anchored her approach to cases in their social, economic, and political context. This compelling biography takes a similar tack, tracing the experience of a francophone woman within the male-dominated Quebec legal profession – and within the primarily anglophone world of the Supreme Court. In the process, Constance Backhouse enhances our understanding of the Canadian judiciary, the creation of law, the Quebec socio-legal environment, and the nation’s top court.

About the author

Constance Backhouse is a professor of law, distinguished university professor, and university research chair at the University of Ottawa. She obtained her B.A. from the University of Manitoba (1972), her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall (1975), and her LL.M. from Harvard Law School (1979). She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1978. She teaches feminist law, criminal law, human rights, and labour law. She is the author of many award-winning legal history books, including Petticoats & Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada (1991), Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canadian Law, 1900–1950 (1999) and The Heiress vs. the Establishment: Mrs. Campbell's Campaign for Legal Justice (2004). She received the Law Society Medal in 1998 and an Honorary Doctorate from the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2002. She has served as an elected bencher of the Law Society from 2002. She became a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2004.

Constance Backhouse's profile page


  • Short-listed, Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Short-listed, City of Ottawa Book Award
  • Winner, CLSA Book Prize, Canadian Law and Society Association

Editorial Reviews

[Claire L’HeureuxDubé: A Life] is an exceptional contribution to Canadian legal literature. Backhouse completely immersed herself in her subject by taking extensive French immersion studies, learning about the Quebec civil law system, and conducting close to 200 interviews over a ten-year period … the result is a meticulously researched but very readable biography of a leading figure in Quebec and Canadian law.

Canadian Law Library Review

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