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A Riddell in Time

If you have been following our blog recently, you might have noticed a few posts concerning our rare book collection. What you might not be aware of is that our rare book collection is actually divided into two main sections: the Riddell Canadian Collection and our general rare book collection.

The Riddell Collection consists of approximately 9,000 books that were bequeathed to the Great Library by William Renwick Riddell. (The original bequest was made in 1916 but Riddell continued to add to his gift in subsequent years.) He specified that his books should be kept together – hence the Riddell Room.

Who was William Renwick Riddell?

William Renwick Riddell, Q.C. (1852-1945) was, among other things, a scholar, historian, lawyer and judge. He was a Law Society Bencher from 1891-1906, was appointed to the Court of King’s Bench in 1906 and to the Court of Appeal in 1925. In his spare time he authored numerous books on Ontario legal history, as well as over 1,000 essays, lectures and book reviews on various topics and served as editor-in-chief of the first edition of the Canadian Abridgment. He has been described as a “compulsive polymath” [i] and “a great collector of books, his own and other peoples”[ii].

The Riddell Canadian Collection

Riddell collected surprisingly few substantive law books. His collection is of significant research value to legal historians and researchers for its early Canadiana and local history titles.

Beyond legal history, the contents of Riddell’s book collection can best be described as eclectic. He seemed to be interested in everything: fiction, grammar, poetry, international relations, astronomy, medicine (including medieval dentistry), religion and the occult. Here’s a sampling of titles:

  • A Manual of the Principles of Surgery by William Canniff (1866)
  • The Magic of the Stars by Maurice Maeterlinck (1930)
  • A Romance of Toronto by Annie G. Savigny (1888)
  • Handbook of Psychology, Senses and Intellect by James Baldwin (1890)
  • The Philosophy of Witchcraft by Ian Ferguson (1924)
  • A Manual of Elementary Chemistry, edited by Robert Bridges (1871)
  • The History of Emily Montague by Francis Brooke (Moore) (1769), which is considered the first Canadian novel
  • Epigrammi Toscani di fra Girolamo Pensa di Cigliaro, cavalier di Malta by Girolamo Pensa (1570), the oldest book in Riddell’s collection

Many of the books that Riddell had in his collection have ephemera and ownership marks. Riddell himself often included letters and notes in the books he donated. Some examples include: letters to and from Riddell, notes about the book itself, newspaper clippings, dried plants, as well as many different signatures, inscriptions, and bookplates.

If you would like to know more about the Riddell collection at the Great Library, we have a catalogue in our collection from an exhibition in 1992 titled A lasting legacy: the Riddell collection in the Great Library at Osgoode Hall, which has witty section titles such as “From Writs to Witches”.

[i] Christopher Moore, The Court of Appeal for Ontario: Defining the Right of Appeal, 1792-2013, (Osgoode Society, 2014) at 269.

[ii] A. Rosemary McCormick, “The Libraries of the Law Society”, Law Society of Upper Canada Gazette Commemorative Issue 6, December 1972 at 64.

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A New LibGuide: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not follow the usual path of Canadian legislation.  Tracing its evolution involves research in two jurisdictions – Canada and the UK – since the power to change our Constitution and incorporate new constitutional measures such as the Charter did not lie in our hands but rather with the Crown.  This can cause a lot of confusion when searching for source law on the Charter. 

For this reason, we have created a LibGuide that aims to guide the researcher in their pursuit to locate and identify legislative intent for the Charter as well as to help form a basic understanding of the legislative pathway the Charter underwent to be enacted.  This LibGuide provides the dates and direct links to the British and Canadian Hansards and identifies some helpful secondary and primary source material concerning the Charter.  The territories of this LibGuide include:

  • The Charter:  A Brief Legislative History
  • The Hansards: The Charter in Canada
  • The Hansards: The Charter in the United Kingdom
  • Secondary Resources at the Great Library

And the LibGuide is now live!  Much like the other LibGuides produced by the Great Library, the Charter LibGuide will be periodically updated.  Visit the Great Library Research Guides to find this and other helpful LibGuides produced by the Great Library staff. 

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Legal Research Survival Guide – Part 9: Legal Writing Resources

This post focuses on the final stage of the research process – writing. The importance of this stage is self-evident – all of the hard work you’ve put into researching your client’s legal problem will be wasted if you can’t effectively communicate your findings and analysis.

Don’t miss the other Survival Guide posts

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during the writing stage of a research assignment:

Practice time management

Make sure you leave enough time in your research process for writing. Clear writing and thorough editing may take you as much time as researching. Plan according to your deadline. Don’t fall into the trap of dragging out your research to avoid nailing down your analysis and beginning to write.

Edit in stages

Tackle the crucial task of editing and revising your work in stages so that you can focus on one aspect of your document at a time. Start by reviewing the big picture – the overall purpose, structure and flow. Go back and edit for clarity and style. Lastly focus on the details. Proof read for typos, grammar, citations, links, etc. Check out this helpful tutorial on editing your own work using a 5-layered strategy.

Get guidance

Writing well is a career-long pursuit. Achieving the goal of clear, concise, accessible and compelling written work takes time, practice and also guidance. Where possible ask for feedback on your writing and accept constructive criticism.

Other Resources

There is also a plethora of helpful writing about legal writing that you can use to improve your skills in writing research memos, opinion letters, pleadings, contracts and, most importantly in daily practice, client communications. There’s lots to explore, but here’s manageable selection of practical resources to start with:

Neil Guthrie, Guthrie’s Guide to Better Legal Writing (Irwin Law, 2018) KF 250 G88 2018, 2nd Floor, Reference.

  • straightforward, readable advice on fixing legal writing deficiencies. The book’s working title, Please Don’t Write like a Lawyer, says it all.

Justice John I. Laskin, “Forget the Wind-up and Make the Pitch”, Ontario Court of Appeal (originally published in Advocates’ Society Journal, Summer 1999)

  • Justice Laskin’s widely cited article provides enduring advice on effective point-first legal writing.

James C. Raymond, Writing for the Court (Carswell, 2010) KF 250 R39 2010, 2nd Floor, Reference.

  • aimed at both judges and lawyers, this slim text provides practical advice, with examples, on organizing your writing and achieving plain style.

Cheryl Stephens, “Plain Language Legal Writing”, CBA PracticeLink, 2014

Point First Legal Writing Academy

  • University of Ottawa’s Legal Writing Academy offers free, interactive resources for improving legal writing skills.

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New Year, New Rules: Changes in Smalls Claim Court

In October, the Ontario government announced that they would be raising the claim limit for Smalls Claim Court from $25,000 to $35,000 in the New Year.  This is part of an access to justice initiative to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for people and businesses to resolve their disputes in front of a judge.

Currently, all claims that exceed $25,000 must seek redress through the Superior Court of Justice— one of the busiest courts in Canada.  By increasing the Smalls Claim Court claim limit, more litigants will be able to bring their disputes to a court where cases are often resolved in less than a year, and where the use of less expensive legal representation such as paralegals, law students, and self-representation is available.  This will also help free up the Superior Court of Justice to focus on more pressing family and criminal law cases as more civil cases are diverted to Small Claims Court.

Along with this change also comes the increase in the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  Additionally, litigants who started a claim in the Superior Court can seek to transfer their case to Small Claims Court if the claim falls within the monetary threshold.

Legislation Responsible:

O. Reg 343/19 was the regulation responsible for amending O.Reg 626/00, Small Claims Court Jurisdiction and Appeal Limit (regulation under the Courts of Justice Act) to change the maximum claim amount from $25,000 to $35,000.  It also increased the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court from $2,500 to $3,500.  O.Reg 343/19 comes into force on January 1, 2020.

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House of Bills: A Fall Recap of Ontario Bills

As of December 12 the Legislative Assembly of Ontario stands adjourned for the winter recess and does not plan to return until February 18th. As promised, we have compiled a list of those bills which have progressed through the House this fall (October 28-December 12) and have identified the latest stage they reached before the winter recess.

First Reading

Bill 134, Caribbean Heritage Month Act, 2019
Bill 135, La Francophonie Act, 2019
Bill 137, Franco-Ontarian Community Act, 2019
Bill 139, Caribbean Heritage Month Act, 2019
Bill 140, Defibrillator Registry Act, 2019
Bill 143, Health and Safety at Work Day Act, 2019
Bill 146, Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario Day Act, 2019
Bill 148, Doored But Not Ignored Act, 2019
Bill 149, Dyslexia Awareness Month Act, 2019
Bill 151, Smoke-Free Ontario Amendment Act (Vaping is not for Kids), 2019
Bill 155, Rent Control Act, 2019
Bill 158, Defibrillator Training and Access Act, 2019
Bill 160, Education Amendment Act (Use of Seclusion and Physical Restraints), 2019
Bill 161, Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019
Bill 162, Public Accountability and Lobbyist Transparency Act, 2019
Bill 163, Food Day Ontario (Food Day Canada in Ontario) Act, 2019
Bill 164, Protecting Vulnerable Persons in Supportive Living Accommodation Act, 2019
Bill 165, Ontario Climate Crisis Strategy for the Public Sector Act, 2019
Bill 166, Great Lakes Protection Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 167, Legislative Assembly Amendment Act, 2019
Bill 168, Combating Antisemitism Act, 2019
Bill 169, Home Warranties to Protect Families Act, 2019
Bill 170, Protecting Passenger Safety Act, 2019

Second Reading

Bill 125, Making Northern Ontario Highways Safer Act, 2019
• Lost on division
Bill 133, Buy in Canada for Mass Transit Vehicles Act, 2019
• Lost on division
Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019
• Debate

Committee Stage

Bill 112, Lupus Awareness Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General Government
Bill 130, Combatting Litter for the Environment and Nature Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 141, Defibrillator Registration and Public Access Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 142, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Air Brake Endorsements), 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 144, Northern Health Travel Grant Advisory Committee Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills
Bill 145, Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 147, Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 150, Ensuring Transparency and Integrity in Political Party Elections Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General government
Bill 152, Occupational Safety and Health Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 153, Long-Term Care Homes Amendment (Till Death Do Us Part) Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 154, Stop Cyberbullying in Ontario Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 157, COPD Awareness Day Act, 2019
• Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy
Bill 159, Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2019
• Bill considered by Standing Committee on Social Policy

Royal assent

Bill 6, Poet Laureate of Ontario Act (In Memory of Gord Downie), 2019 (SO 2019, c 16)
Bill 116, Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 17)
Bill 123, Reserved Parking for Electric Vehicle Charging Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 18)
Bill 124, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 (SO 2019 c 12)
Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 14)
Bill 136, Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 13)
Bill 138, Plan to Build Ontario Together Act, 2019 (SO 2019, c 15)

That’s all for now, folks! Come back the end of February for the next “House of Bills: A Weekly Update on Ontario Bills” post.