The Roots of Canadian Law in Canada

By Saul, John Ralston | McGill Law Journal, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

The Roots of Canadian Law in Canada


Saul, John Ralston, McGill Law Journal


This article asks the Canadian legal community to look beyond the standard historical viewpoint that roots Canadian law in the British common law and French civil law traditions. The author discusses the historical foundations of Canadian law in a uniquely Canadian context, beginning with the earliest interactions between the First Nations and the Europeans. Drawing on the research outlined in his recent book, A Fair Country, the author challenges his audience to think of Canadian law as far more than the local implementation of foreign legal traditions. While Canada has freely borrowed from various legal traditions, the application of law in Canada has been a unique process intimately tied to Canadian history. The author calls on us to recognize a distinctly Canadian legal tradition which has grown out of Aboriginal law and subsequent local experience while being influenced by, but by no means limited to, common law and civil law traditions.

Cet article demande a la communaute juridique canadienne d'aller au-dela du point de vue historique standard selon lequel les racines du droit canadien se trouvent dans les traditions de common law britannique et de droit civil francais. L'auteur retrace les fondements historiques du droit canadien dans le contexte unique du pays, en commencant par les premieres interactions entre les Premieres Nations et les Europeens. En s'appuyant sur les recherches etayees dans son recent livre Monpavs metis', l'auteur enjoint le public a envisager le droit canadien comme beaucoup plus que la simple implantation locale de traditions juridiques etrangeres. Bien que le Canada ait emprunte librement a diverses traditions juridiques, l'application du droit au Canada a toujours ete un processus unique intimement lie a l'histoire canadienne. L'auteur nous interpelle pour que nous reconnaissions une tradition juridique canadienne distincte, issue du droit autochtone et de l'experience locale subsequente, tout en etant influencee par les traditions de common law et de droit civil sans y etre limitee.

**********

I would like to begin the written form of this lecture by acknowledging the Mohawk people on whose traditional land we are. This form of acknowledgement is commonly and correctly used in Western Canada. I have noticed that it is very slowly coming into use in southern Ontario and Quebec, yet I cannot think of places where it could be more important to make this a norm. Some of you, as law students, professors and judges, may feel that this is a mere formality. But if you consider various Supreme Court of Canada decisions over the last few decades, you quickly realize that there are different forms of belonging--forms outside of those European norms of ownership defined by buying and selling. These non-European ideas of the relationship between land and people have been recognized by our courts. They will play an increasingly important role in the complex way we understand what this land is and what form our relationships to it will take.

Madame la redactrice en chef, je vous remercie pour votre invitation. Je suis tres heureux d'etre ici aujourd'hui, etant a ma facon un produit et un membre de l'Universite McGill, qui m'a decerne un doctorat honorifique en lettres. Toutefois, comme je ne suis pas avocat, je vous prierais d'etre indulgent si je me trompe dans certains enonces de cet expose.

En verite, je suis un produit par deux fois de McGill, puisque j'ai aussi passe quatre annees ici, de maniere plus honnete, c'est-a-dire que j'y ai etudie pour decrocher mon diplome. J'ai frequente l'Universite dans les annees 1966-69, a une epoque oU McGill etait un lieu particulierement excitant, car nous etions en greve la plupart du temps. Je conserve des souvenirs tres animes de cette periode, notamment d'avoir rencontre Frank R. Scott, (1) qui etait l'un des grands hommes de cette Faculte. Un soir, des etudiants ont decide de mener une action provocatrice inedite et d'occuper le bureau du President. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Roots of Canadian Law in Canada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.