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Law Property

Property on Trial

Canadian Cases in Context

contributions by Eric Tucker, James Muir, Bruce Ziff, Jamie Benidickson, Nicholas Blomley, Angela Cameron, Angela Chaisson, Patricia Farnese, Philip Girard, Vanessa Gruben, Douglas C. Harris, Eran Kaplinsky, C. Ian Kyer, Frank Luce, Jeremy Martin, Margaret E. McCallum, Mary Jane Mossman, Jim Phillips, Eric H. Reiter & Karen Schucher

Irwin Law Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2012
Property, Legal History
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Co-Published with the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History

Property on Trial is a collection of 14 studies of Canadian property law disputes — some well-known, some more obscure — that have helped to shape the contours of the principles and rules of property law over 150 years. These studies, written by some of Canada’s leading legal historians, range in time from a discussion of a nineteenth-century dispute over the ownership of seal pelts in Newfoundland to modern questions of what constitutes private property in a digital age. They investigate the relationship between private and public interests in property; the limits of private property owners’ rights in relation to others, particularly neighbours and family; and the intersection of property law principles with other branches of the law, including criminal law, family law, and human rights. 

The authors describe, in rich detail, the social, cultural, and political contexts in which the events unfolded, the backgrounds and personalities of the litigants, the skills of the lawyers, and the judicial attitudes of the day. On the one hand, Property on Trial is a collection of thoughtful and compelling stories about conflict in a wide variety of contexts, each with its own heroines and heroes, villains and ne’er-do-wells, winners and losers. On the other, it is an insightful look at the history of property law doctrine in Canada.


About the authors

Eric Tucker, B.A., LL.B., LL.M. is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. He has published extensively on the history and current state of labour and employment law. He is the author of Administering Danger in the Workplace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990) and co-author of Labour Before the Law: The Legal Regulation of Workers’ Collective Action (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001, with Judy Fudge) and Self-Employed Workers Organize (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005, with Cynthia Cranford, Judy Fudge, and Leah Vosko). He is also the editor of Working Disasters: The Politics of Recognition and Response (Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing Company, 2006).


Eric Tucker's profile page

James Muir is an assistant professor of History and Law at the University of Alberta. He works on Canadian legal and labour history, with publications on 18th- and 19th-century Nova Scotia, 20th-century Manitoba and Alberta and the practice of teaching legal history.


James Muir's profile page

Bruce Ziff is a professor of law at the University of Alberta. He has also taught at the University of Wollongong in Australia, and Osgoode Hall Law School. Professor Ziff has served as a Special Counsel for the Alberta Law Reform Institute and as an advisor on land titles reform in Ukraine. He is a recipient of the AC Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Professor Ziff’s research deals mainly with property and legal history. He is the author of Principles of Property Law, 5th ed (Carswell, 2010), and Unforeseen Legacies: Reuben Wells Leonard and the Leonard Foundation Trust (Osgoode Society, 2000), and he is a co-editor of A Property Law Reader 3rd ed. (Carswell, 2012) and Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation (Rutgers University Press, 1997).

Bruce Ziff's profile page

Jamie Benidickson is a professor at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa, where he teaches Environmental Law, administrative law, water law, and legal history. His publications in these areas include Environmental Law, Third Edition (Irwin Law, 2008); The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage (UBC Press, 2007); Getting the Green Light: Environmental Regulation and Investment in Canada (C.D. Howe Institute, 1994); and an issues paper for the Walkerton Inquiry, "The Development of Water Supply and Sewage Infrastructure in Ontario, 1880–1990s: Legal and Institutional Aspects of Public Health and Environmental History" (Toronto, 2002). He is also the author of Idleness Water and A Canoe: Reflections on Paddling for Pleasure (University of Toronto Press, 1997) and The Temagami Experience: Recreation, Resources and Aboriginal Rights in the Northern Ontario Wilderness (University of Toronto Press, 1989).

In 2004, Jamie was appointed director of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.

Jamie Benidickson's profile page

Nicholas Blomley is Professor of Geography at Simon Fraser University. He has a long standing interest in property, both public and communal, and private. He is the author of Unsettling the City: Urban Land and the Politics of Property (Routledge, 2004) and Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow (Routledge, 2011).


Nicholas Blomley's profile page

Angela Cameron received her LLB from Dalhousie University in 1998, and was admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1999. She received her LLM from the University of British Columbia in 2003 and her Doctorate from the University of Victoria in 2012. She was an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, and a President’s Research Scholar at the University of Victoria. Professor Cameron’s research is generally in the area of social justice, with a particular focus on the equality interests of women. Professor Cameron’s research areas include criminal law, restorative justice, property law, reproductive technologies law, family law, legal theory, sociological approaches to law, and human rights law. She is the administrator of


Angela Cameron's profile page

Angela Chaisson is a graduate of the University of Ottawa’s faculty of law, where she focused on social justice and equality issues. She is a feminist lawyer practicing criminal, constitutional, and administrative law in Toronto.


Angela Chaisson's profile page

Patricia Farnese, BA (Guelph), LL B (Saskatchewan), LL M (Arkansas), is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Saskatchewan where she teaches Property, Agriculture, and Wildlife Law. She also teaches courses related to resource management in the Indigenous Peoples Resource Management Program of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. Professor Farnese clerked with the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and is a member of the Saskatchewan bar. Currently, she serves as the vice-Chair of the Practitioner’s Staff Appeals Tribunal for Saskatchewan.


Patricia Farnese's profile page

Philip Girard is University Research Professor and Professor of Law, History and Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University, where he is based at the Schulich School of Law. He has published widely on Canadian and comparative legal history. His biography Bora Laskin: Bringing Law to Life (Osgoode Society, 2005) received the Chalmers Award for the best book published in Ontario history in that year, while his Lawyers and Legal Culture in British North America: Beamish Murdoch of Halifax (Osgoode Society, 2011) received the Clio Atlantic award from the Canadian Historical Association in 2012. He is the associate editor of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History.


Philip Girard's profile page

Vanessa Gruben is an associate professor and a member of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law, where she teaches health law and family law. Her research focuses on the legal and ethical aspects of assisted reproduction, including the constitutionality of Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act, the legal relationship between egg donors and their physicians, the constitutionality of anonymous sperm and egg donation, access to reproductive technologies, and the existing gaps in provincial law for families created through third-party reproduction. Gruben’s work is funded by the Social Science and Humanities and Research Council, Canadian Blood Services, and the Foundation for Legal Research. She is a co-editor of the fifth edition of Canadian Health Law and Policy (LexisNexis Canada, 2017).


Vanessa Gruben's profile page

Douglas C. Harris (PhD) is the Nathan T. Nemetz Chair in Legal History and the Associate Dean Graduate Studies & Research in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia. He writes and teaches in the areas of property law, legal history, fisheries law, and Aboriginal law. Professor Harris is the author of Fish, Law, and Colonialism: The Legal Capture of Salmon in British Columbia (University of Toronto Press, 2001) and Land ing Native Fisheries: Indian Reserves and Fishing Rights in British Columbia, 1849-1925 (University of British Columbia Press, 2008), which received the John T. Saywell Prize for Canadian Constitutional Legal History in 2011. He is also a co-author of the leading property law casebook in Canada, A Property Law Reader: Cases, Questions, Commentary (Carswell, 2012), now in its third edition.


Douglas C. Harris' profile page

Eran Kaplinsky (LLB, Tel Aviv University; LLM, SJD, University of Toronto) is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Alberta. Eran’s scholarship focuses on municipal, planning, and property law. He has taught courses in these areas at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and Université de Sherbrooke, in addition to the University of Alberta. This is his first scholarly contribution in the area of animal law.


Eran Kaplinsky's profile page

C. Ian Kyer is a distinguished lawyer, historian, and author. For more than thirty years he practised law with the Faskens law firm, where he led the Technology and Intellectual Property Group. Ranked as one of Canada’s top 500 lawyers, he has advised both private sector parties and federal, provincial, and municipal governments on numerous projects, including public-private partnerships. He has often been praised for his even-handed approach and his ability to bring parties together. But Ian was an historian before he became a lawyer (with a PhD in Medieval ecclesiastical history), and on his retirement from the Faskens partnership, he has returned to history. He has written a history of the Faskens firm, an historical novel about Salieri and his relationship to Mozart, and numerous short biographies for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

C. Ian Kyer's profile page

Frank Luce is a labour lawyer who currently teaches in the labour studies programme at York University. As the former coordinator of The Harriet Tubman Institute, he was the main organizer of the Dan Hill Symposium which gave rise to the paper co-authored with Karen Schucher on Bell v. McKay. His current research interests are focused on contemporary labour history in Brazil and Angola.


Frank Luce's profile page

Jeremy Martin studied English literature and history prior to entering law, receiving both his MA (English) and JD from the University of Toronto. He currently carries on a litigation practice at Cassels Brock & Blackwell, LL P in Toronto. In 2011 he was awarded the Osgoode Society Book Prize for his work in Anglo-Canadian legal history. He is a co-author of the Ontario Annual Review of Civil Practice (Carswell) and publishes primarily in the areas of legal history and civil procedure.


Jeremy Martin's profile page

Margaret E. McCallum is a Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of New Brunswick. She currently teaches property law, natural resources law, law and social justice, trusts, and fiduciary obligations. Her publications include Lady Landlords of Prince Edward Island: Imperial Dreams and the Defence of Property (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008), co-authored with Dr. Rusty Bittermann; Synthesis: Legal Reading, Reasoning, and Writing in Canada (CCH, 2012), the 3rd Canadian edition of a text originally written by Deborah Schmedemann and Christina L. Kunz; and Introduction to Real Property Law (LexisNexis, 2012), the 6th edition of a text originally written by the late Alan Sinclair.


Margaret E. McCallum's profile page

Mary Jane Mossman is Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School and a University Professor at York University. She teaches Property Law and Family Law, and writes in these areas, as well as in relation to access to justice and the history of women in law. She is co-author of Property Law: Cases and Materials 2nd ed. (Emond-Montgomery, 2004); Families and the Law (Captus Press, 2012), and The First Women Lawyers: A Comparative Study of Gender, Law and the Legal Professions (Hart Publishing, 2006). She is currently researching the history of women lawyers in Ontario 1890s to 1970s for the Osgoode Society.


Mary Jane Mossman's profile page

Jim Phillips is Professor of Law, History and Criminology at the University of Toronto, and editor-in-chief of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. He has co-edited four volumes of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History’s Essays in the History of Canadian Law and, with Philip Girard, a volume on the history of Canada’s oldest surviving superior common law court, The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia 1754-2004: From Imperial Bastion to Provincial Oracle (Osgoode Society, 2004). He has published over fifty articles and book chapters on British imperial history and 18th-century India, on property and charities law, US legal history, and, principally, Canadian legal history. He is also the author, with Rosemary Gartner, of Murdering Holiness: The Trials of Franz Creffield and George Mitchell (University of British Columbia Press, 2003).


Jim Phillips' profile page

Eric H. Reiter is Associate Professor in the Department of History, Concordia University, and a member of the Barreau du Québec. His publications have recently appeared in the Indigenous Law Journal, the Canadian Bar Review, and the Journal of Civil Law Studies. He is currently working on a book on social and legal ideas of honour and other intangible interests in 19th- and 20thcentury Quebec.


Eric H. Reiter's profile page

Karen Schucher has been involved in equality and human rights litigation for many years. She was co-counsel in the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario human rights litigation and worked on numerous equality rights issues on behalf of trade unions in her former practice with Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish. Karen Schucher was counsel to LEAF in the NAPE intervention and is currently a member of LEAF’s National Legal Committee. She has written on a wide range of human rights issues and is actively involved with women’s organizations working on violence against women, most currently with Canadian Chiapanecas Justice for Women (CCJW), a recently-established North/ South working group.


Karen Schucher's profile page

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