Dalhousie Law Journal


Canadian legal history


The study of legal history can be a useful and scholarly undertaking. An understanding of the uses and limits of law is useful, if not necessary, for any civilized community, and a study of legal history is one way, although not the exclusive way, of achieving this understanding. More generally, our understanding of history cannot be complete without some understanding of its legal elements. Therefore, the study of Canadian legal history should be respectable and flourishing, but it is not. It has been greatly neglected, and most of the little work that has been done has reflected limited interests. Lawyers have usually restricted themselves to the development of doctrine and the stucture of courts. Historians have considered a wider range of law, because law has been a large and unavoidable element of Canadian history, but none has made it a distinct topic. The result is that we know almost nothing about our legal past. We have not even accumulated and organized most of the major facts, let alone thought about them.

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Legal History Commons