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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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Great Library Holiday Hours

Please take note of our opening hours over the holidays:

December 21, 2019 – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

December 22, 2019 – 12 noon to 5:00 pm

December 23, 2019 – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

December 24, 2019 – Closed

December 25, 2019 – Closed

December 26, 2019 – Closed

December 27, 2019 – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

December 28, 2910 – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

December 29, 2019 – 12 noon to 5:00 pm

December 30, 2019 – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

December 31, 2019 – Closed

January 1, 2020 – Closed

Regular hours resume on January 2, 2020.

To all a safe and happy Holiday Season!

> the Staff at the Great Library

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The Great Library’s Oddest Law Book Titles

Law books are not generally known for having interesting titles. Most carry functional but yawn-inducing titles such as Business Law in Ontario. Typically, after a respectable number of editions, a legal author’s name is fused to the topic, as in Chitty on Contracts or Orkin on Costs. And sometimes successive authors of a legal treatise share space in the title – Coke on Littleton, Sullivan and Driedger on the Construction of Statutes, etc.

No such staid conventions exist in the world of non-legal book titles. There’s even an annual prize for the oddest non-fiction book title.

The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year was first awarded in 1978. The prize was the invention of Trevor Bounford and Bruce Robertson, co-founders of the publishing firm, The Diagram Group. The two dreamed up the prize as a way to relieve boredom while working at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair.  The winner of this year’s prize, marking the 41st anniversary, was just announced last week.

The Oddest Book Title contest rules are simple: author and publisher of the winning title receive no tangible prize, only publicity. The nominator of the winning title however receives “a passable bottle of claret”.

To get an idea of what it takes to be a Diagram winner, here are a few recipients from past years:

1992 – How to Avoid Huge Ships (advice to pleasure boat sailors on the dangers of shipping lanes)

1993 – American Bottom Archaeology (an archaeological history of the Mississippi River Valley)

2004 – Bombproof Your Horse (techniques for training horses to be less easily spooked by the unexpected)

2010 – Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way (practice management tips on “how to build an empire in the dentistry field”)

Surprisingly, at least one legal book has won the dubious honour of oddest book title. In 2001, the prize was awarded to Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service, a serious guide for lawyers dealing with corporate liability for manslaughter and fatal accidents.

This discovery inspired Great Library staff members to seek out odd legal titles on our shelves.

Here are our staff’s top picks for oddest legal book titles in the Great Library’s print collection, arranged by category:

Best Alliteration or Rhyme

Best Horror

Best Self-Help

and Best Miscellaneous

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New Books: Winter 2019

Here are some recent additions to our collection:

New Titles

The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law by Herrmann. KF 300 H47 2019 / Circulating Collection, 2nd Floor.

Mark Herrmann gives it to you straight in the second edition of his book The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law.  Committing to the character of the old and grumpy curmudgeon, Herrmann offers sound, practical advice on what to do and not to do to practice law successfully, including how to write persuasively, prepare for court, build a practice, and treat colleagues and clients with professional courtesy and respect.

Gerald Fridman and the Law of Obligations: Past, Present and Future, edited by Neyers et al. KF 385 G47 2019 / 1st Floor.

The late Professor Gerald Fridman was one of Canada’s most respected and prolific legal scholars. This collection of papers, written by both academics and practitioners and originally presented at a Western Law symposium last fall, celebrates and explores Professor Fridman’s  influence and contributions to the study of private law. The volume is divided into four parts, reflecting the primary fields of his scholarship:

  • Part I: The Law of Contract
  • Part II: The Law of Torts
  • Part III: The Law of Unjust Enrichment, Restitution, and Trusts
  • Part IV: Commercial Law: Sale of Goods and Agency

A Lawyer’s Guide to Working with Special Needs Clients by Courtney. KF 311 C68 2019 / 1st Floor.

This bookfills a fundamental need for basic information on planning techniques and legal strategies unique to representing clients with special needs. Chapters are included on special needs trusts, education, housing, and other financial and legal issues to consider. While this is an American guide, the book’s first two parts “Understanding the Special Needs Client” and “Understanding Special Needs Practice Issues” will be particularly relevant to the Canadian practitioner as they cover topics such as working with clients and their families, essential questions to ask clients, and managing ethical and practice risks.

Prosecuting and Defending Drug Cases: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Gorham et al. KF 3890 G67 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

This text, which marks Volume 11 in Emond Publishing’s Criminal Law Series, presents practical and in-depth guidance for any practitioner litigating drug-related offences. It includes substantive chapters on bail, disclosure, trafficking, possession and sentencing, as well as advice on specific procedures, such as Garofoli applications. The book is balanced, providing guidance from both the prosecution and defence perspectives, and clearly laid out, with helpful charts and ample case references.

Real Estate Finance in Canada by Manzer & Porter. KF 695 M36 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

This guide is intended for legal practitioners involved in managing and documenting financial transactions based primarily on the security of real property. The authors covers the fundamentals of real estate finance, as well as the specialized aspects involved, such as regulatory issues, construction, zoning, environmental risk and Indigenous rights. The practical value of the text is further enhanced by the inclusion of checklists, charts and precedent document clauses.

Researching Legislative Intent: A Practical Guide by Barker & Anderson. KF 425 B37 2019 / Reference Collection, 2nd Floor.

Highly anticipated by the staff at the Great Library, Researching Legislative Intent: A Practical Guide is just that—a practical, clear guide to the perplexing process of researching legislative intent.  Beginning with a foundational overview of the history of the use of legislative intent and of the legislative process in Canada, the book moves on to describe the various sources available to trace legislative history and assist in statutory interpretation. Perhaps most importantly, this comprehensive guide outlines how to use and apply those sources to research legislative intent. Other topics covered include statutory instruments and delegated legislation, researching the history of regulations, and interpreting treaties with Indigenous Peoples. 

Updated Editions


Branding and Copyright for Charities and Non-Profit Organizations, 3rd ed., by Carter & Goh. KF 3180 C37 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Education Law, 5th ed., by Brown et al. KF 4119 B76 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Estate Planning with Life Insurance, 7th ed., by Stephens. KF 750 S74 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Evidence: Principles and Problems, 12th ed., by Delisle et al. KF 8935 .ZA2 D44 2018 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

The Executor’s Handbook, 6th ed., by Greenan. KF 778 G74 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Inadmissible to Canada: Travel to Canada after a Conviction, 2nd ed., by Feil. KF 4483 .I5 F45 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Modern Trial Advocacy: Analysis & Practice, Canadian 4th ed., adapted for Canada by Tape & Rosenthal. KF 8915 L83 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

The Privacy Officer’s Guide to Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, 2020 ed., by Banks. KF 1263 .C6 C36 P 2020 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Trusts in Common-Law Canada, 3rd ed., by Pavlich. KF 730 P39 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

U.K., U.S. & International

Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law, 9th ed., Crawford. KZ 3225 .B76 P75 2019 / 1st Floor.

A Litigator’s Guide to Building Your Best Argument, 2nd ed., by Kuhne. KF 8915 K84 2019 / 1st Floor.

Plain English for Lawyers, 6th ed., by Wydick & Sloan. KF 250 W9 2019 / Reference Collection, 2nd Floor.