Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Law Legal History

Unforeseen Legacies

Reuben Wells Leonard and the Leonard Foundation Trust

by (author) Bruce Ziff

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
Nov 2000
Legal History, Discrimination & Race Relations, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2000
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2000
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2000
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Colonel Reuben Wells Leonard (1860-1930) was a teacher, civil engineer, militia officer, inventor, businessman, senior civil servant, and philanthropist. In December 1923, he signed the third and final version of the Leonard Foundation trust deed, donating over $500,000 to create a fund for scholarships tenable across Canada. The deed begins with a statement of Leonard's belief that the "White Race is, as a whole, best qualified by nature to be entrusted with the development of civilization and the general progress of the world along the best lines". It goes on to recite that the progress of the world depends on the maintenance of the Christian religion and the independence, stability, and prosperity of the British Empire. The student awards created under the trust were therefore available only to persons who were White Protestants of British nationality or parentage. The Leonard Foundation operated under these terms for over 60 years. When the legality of the trust was questioned in the mid-1980s, an Ontario court ruled that it was valid, and it was not until 1990 that the Ontario Court of Appeal reversed the initial decision and held that the discriminatory qualifications were unlawful.

Leonard's life provides the backdrop for the central subject of Unforeseen Legacies: an exploration of Canadian values and beliefs as filtered through the ideologies of Colonel Leonard, the Leonard Trust, and the law governing private discriminatory action. In part, this study investigates Canada's response to issues of race, discrimination, and tolerance of and respect for difference, then and now.

This book is about Reuben Wells Leonard, the Leonard Foundation trust, the litigation concerning the validity of the trust's discriminatory provisions, and the judgments rendered in the Leonard Foundation case. Part biography, part intellectual history, part legal history, it concludes with a discussion of contemporary law and policy.

About the author

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

Other titles by Bruce Ziff