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The blog of the Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario

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At your Fingertips: Proclamations and Annotations

When conducting legislative research, it’s important to remember that just because a statute has received royal assent, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of its sections have come into force. This is why it is so important to look through the commencement provisions of the statute in question to discern when the statute will be “fully operational” so to speak.

Unfortunately, deciphering coming into force dates isn’t always as straightforward as looking at these commencement provisions. While these provisions will sometimes neatly list the specific coming into force dates, other times they simply indicate that the statute will come into force “on a date to be determined by Proclamation”.

Proclamations are published in most jurisdiction’s official Gazettes. But luckily you don’t have to sift through piles of weekly Gazettes issues to find the proclamation you need. There are more efficient alternatives:

For Ontario, you can check the Table of Proclamations found on e-Laws, and for federal statutes you can check the coming into force dates in the Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers on the Justice Laws website.

Another source which covers proclamations for all Canadian jurisdictions going back many years is the Great Library’s annotated statute volumes. We annotate our legislative volumes with coming into force information. This means we will actually pencil in the coming into force dates, along with the proclamation information, right next to the relevant provisions. Easy Peasy! Look for the volumes with the “Annotated” sticker on the spine to take advantage of this service, or alternatively, shoot us an email for coming into force information.

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We’re Coming Back

Thank you for your patience as we have restricted our services in light of the pandemic. This week, we started our return to the library. While the Great Library will only be accessible to library staff, we are adding back chat and phone reference. And, of course, we have full access to our collection. Our staff are available from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.

Additionally, if you would normally come in to get a document and now have to ask us to send it to you, ask anyway. For the time being, we are waiving our document delivery fees for print-sources materials and will continue to fulfill document delivery requests for electronic documents for free. Call, email, or chat and let us know what you need. We can fulfill your requests electronically.

Thanks again for your support and patience. Our staff continue to look forward to serve you remotely. We look forward to serving you in person in the future.

Trillium flower in a forest

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Online Only, Please!

A great legal research tool for finding secondary materials like texts, loose-leafs, websites and CPD papers just got better. Introducing the “Electronic Only” tab on InfoLocate! Thanks to the Great Library’s Technical Services team, researchers can now choose to filter search results from the library’s catalogue to retrieve only those resources accessible online. 

While previously InfoLocate allowed users to limit search results to only online resources (including books, loose-leafs and websites), or only Law Society CLE articles available on AccessCLE, we’ve never been able to combine these results to retrieve ALL online search results… until now. This new tab is an incredibly handy tool for all those working from home without access to the physical collection of their law library. 

The “Electronic Only” tab can be found on the InfoLocate results page immediately above the search bar:

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Portrait of Robert Baldwin

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Happy Birthday, Baldwin

Happy Birthday to Robert Baldwin, drafter of The Baldwin Act!

An Act to provide, by one general law, for the erection of Municipal Corporations, and the establishment of Regulations of Police, in and for the several Counties, Cities, Towns, Townships and Villages in Upper-Canada, also referred to as the Municipal Corporations Act, 1849, a.k.a. the Baldwin Act, was Ontario’s first municipal statute. It was named after Robert Baldwin (1804-1858), who was co-premier and Attorney General at the time and at various other times lawyer and Law Society of Ontario Treasurer. The act was passed in 1849, came into force on January 1, 1850, and was described in The Municipal Manual, 11th ed, as “the Magna Charta of municipal government in Canada” (p 8).

The citation for the act is 12 Vict c 81, and it’s available electronically in the Great Library; if you need a copy, just ask.

Playground during the pandemic with caution tape draped over it

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Family Law Resources and COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has given rise to urgent and evolving family law issues. To help you find current family law information, here are some key resources that address those legal issues directly related to the pandemic, such as access in shared child custody and what constitutes an urgent family law matter that will be heard by the courts.

This Week in Family Law (Franks & Zalev) on WestlawNext Canada – Family Source

Check this newsletter regularly to get the COVID-19 Update, a weekly recap of cases and commentary on new developments, and to access the Epstein Cole COVID-19 Case Chart which includes more than 40 family law cases that have dealt with COVID-19 related issues.

(Thomson Reuters is currently offering all LSO licensees free 30-day access to Westlaw Next Canada.)

Urgent Family Law Cases During COVID-19 (Kathryn Hendrikx) – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance on Lexis Practice Advisor

This source lists all current urgent family law motions heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice since March 18, 2020. See the accompanying practice note, Urgent Family Law Motions During COVID-19 for a discussion of procedure on urgent motions.

(LexisNexis Canada is offering a free a trial of Lexis Practice Advisor and free access to their COVID-19 Document Kit)

Lawyer’s Daily COVID-19 Updates

Legal news and updates relating to the corona virus for all practice area are freely accessible on the Lawyer’s Daily website. See for example, Determining urgency in family law during pandemic: Ribeiro v. Wright, by Alex Boland, Lawyer’s Daily, April 06, 2020.

Ontario Court Notices:

Setting out the scope and procedure for urgent matters:

Public Legal Information:

“Urgent” Court Cases and COVID-19, updated April 21, 2020 (NSRLP)

Guidance and recent decisions to clarify what the courts consider to be “urgent” during the pandemic.

Template Social Distancing Clauses for Parents, updated April 16, 2020 (NSRLP)

Sample clauses on social distancing undertakings for parents with shared custody arrangements.

COVID‑19 Family Law (CLEO Steps to Justice)

Answers for the public to questions about access, child and spousal support, family violence and going to court during the pandemic.

A note about library services:

Although the Great Library is closed, staff are working remotely. We are continuing to provide legal research assistance and document delivery service using our online resources. If we can help you in any way, please email us at

A pheasant on grass

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Free Legal Citation Guides

If you’re working remotely, you may be missing some of your trusted legal research tools and sources. We understand! Without access to the Great Library’s formidable print collection and a full slate of electronic resources, we law librarians are making do – being creative, resourceful and fully exploiting the best free legal information sources to provide research assistance.

Last week we covered free sources for finding free CPD (continuing professional development) articles. This week we’re sharing some tips on finding free legal citation resources.

If you don’t have a copy of the current edition of the McGill Guide (Canadian Guide to Legal Citation, 9th ed., Thomson Reuters, 2018) at hand or a subscription to the online version on Westlaw Next Canada, don’t despair.  You can still find guidance on how to properly cite that case, statute or text section you’re relying on.

Many Canadian university and law school libraries have created quick reference citation guides based on the current McGill Guide. These guides typically distill the rules in McGill to provide a clear explanation and plenty of examples to show you how to cite legal materials from cases to blogs.

Here’s a selection:

Like the McGill Guide itself, these online citation guides won’t cover everything. There will always be times when you’ll need to improvise.

When doing so, remember the two cardinal rules of legal citation: be kind to your reader (provide clear, complete and accurate information so they can find what you’re citing) and be consistent in your style and formatting.

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Limited Document Delivery

Effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the Great Library is starting back up its document delivery service to Law Society of Ontario licensees.

  • Requests will be filled from electronic sources only. While the library remains closed, we’re unable to provide scans from materials in our print collection.
  • Please use the document delivery form to make your request. If you do not have access to a web browser, you can email with your request.
  • Requests will only be fulfilled by email. We do not have the ability to fax, mail, or have requests picked up.

For more information, see Document Delivery Service for Law Society Licensees on the Great Library’s web site.

Stained glass window with text Law Society of Upper Canada established 1797

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The Library is Closed

The Law Society of Ontario has shifted to a work-at-home approach in light of the pandemic and the Great Library is closed effective today, March 16. We will reopen on April 30 but, in the meantime, we will be unable to respond to email, phone, or in-person research requests. Document delivery and interlibrary loan are suspended until we reopen. And, obviously, our location in downtown Toronto is closed and the collection inaccessible.

We look forward to serving you again in the future.

Duck on a pond with snow on its head

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New Books – Late Winter 2020

Here’s a selection of recent and noteworthy additions to our shelves:

New titles:

Big Data Law in Canada by Phull. KF 1263 .C66 P48 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Big Data Law in Canada will help anyone involved in data governance gain an understanding of the legal issues affecting data-driven enterprises. The book explores how big data intersects with the Canadian privacy law framework, cybersecurity legal standards, data privacy litigation, commercial electronic messages and the right to erasure. It also covers such areas as data governance, data breaches, digital authentication, trans-border data flows, and artificial intelligence.

Commissions of Inquiry by Goudge & MacIvor. KF 5422 G69 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

This book covers all aspects of commissions of inquiry from their history and evolution in Canada to their governing laws and current role. Written as a resource for legal practitioners and judges as well for government officials and private citizens, it provides guidance on the practical aspects of conducting an inquiry, such as drafting commission terms of reference, rules and orders, appointing commissioners, selecting staff, hearing witnesses and writing the final report. The book also makes extensive reference to significant Canadian inquiries and includes an appendix of narratives of selected public inquiries.

Equine Law and Horse Sense by Fershtman. KF 390.5 .H6 F47 2019 / 1st Floor.

With few current Canadian legal resources available in the area of equine law, this American text helps fill the gap. Equine Law and Horse Sense provides practical insights for individuals, businesses and organizations participating in the horse industry or horse-related activities. It covers equine injuries, litigation and the drafting, reviewing and negotiating of equine-related contracts. With chapters on land use and zoning, managing an equine business, equine-related liabilities and maximizing the value of equine insurance, this title acts as a solid legal primer to all things equestrian.

Flawed Precedent: The St. Catherine’s Case and Aboriginal Title by McNeil. KF 5662 O45 M36 2019 / 1st Floor.

Part of the Landmark Cases in Canadian Law series published by UBC Press, this book examines in detail  the pivotal 19th century Indigenous land rights case of St. Catharine’s Milling and Lumber Company v The Queen. Following a trial completely based on ignorance, racist assumptions and prejudicial attitudes, the various courts’ decisions in this case not only had detrimental effects on Indigenous land title, but also set the precedent for Canadian law and policy surrounding Indigenous rights for the next century. Author Kent McNeil explores the ramifications and provides commentary on the political, historical and ideological contexts that drove the case.

The Law of Objections in Canada: A Handbook by Marseille & McArthur. KF 8935 .ZA2 L39 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

This practical handbook covers the rules for all possible objections that can be made at trial. Litigators, criminal lawyers and judges will appreciate its logical structure, including an easy to use Table of Objections. The book deals with objections respecting the object of proof (fairness at trial, privilege and fundamental rights and freedoms) and objections respecting the means of proof (testimony, documentary and circumstantial evidence). Each chapter includes a summary of the rule, its purpose, scope and exceptions.

The Law of Costs in Personal Injury Actions by Bent & Campos Reales. KF 1257 B46 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

This new text is a valuable addition to the available resources on the law of costs. Dealing specifically with costs in Ontario personal injury litigation, the book covers fixing and assigning costs, solicitor-client and party costs, offers to settle and security for costs. A separate chapter examines costs in particular proceedings, from motions to appeals. 

LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis edited by Radbord. KF 4483 .C576 L53 2020 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis is one of the few legal resources that offers practical and intersectional guidance on the legal issues experienced by members of the LGBTQ2+ community. This book investigates the many areas of legal practice in which LGBTQ2+ members may encounter challenges related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Some of the topics explored include issues related to human rights and the charter, family law, estate planning issues, immigration law and criminal law and public health. This text also provides guidance to lawyers on such matters as LGBTQ2+ cultural competency and history to ensure that communication with LGBTQ2+ clients is informed, respectful and politically progressive.

More new titles:

Corporate Governance for Directors by Hansell. KF 1423 H35 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Crossing Law’s Border: Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program by Labman. KF 4483 .I532 L33 2019 / 1st Floor.

The Directors’ Handbook by Nathan & Stuchberry. KF 1423 N38 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Seeking the Court’s Advice: The Politics of the Canadian Reference Power by Puddister. KF 4483 .J8 P85 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Sentencing: Principles and Practice by Robitaille & Winocur. KF 9685 R64 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

The Small Firm Roadmap: A Survival Guide to the Future of Your Law Practice by Aaron Street et al. KF 318 S77 20219/ Circulating.

Updated editions:


Canadian Law of Mining, 2nd ed., by Barton. KF 1819 B377 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Competition and Antitrust Law: Canada and the United States, 5th ed., by Facey & Assaf. KF 1650 .ZA2 F33 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor; also on Lexis Advance Quicklaw in the library.

Child Support Guidelines in Canada, 2020 by Payne and Payne. KF 549 P39 2020/ Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

Defending Class Actions in Canada: A Guide for Defendants, 5th ed., by McCarthy Tetrault. KF 8896 D44 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

The Law of Product Warnings and Recalls in Canada, 2nd ed., by Harrison & Colangelo. KF 3945 H37 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

The Law of Search & Seizure in Canada, 11th ed., by Fontana & Keesham. KF 9630 F65 2019 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor.

The Law of Witnesses and Evidence in Canada, 2 vol. loose leaf, by Sankoff (formerly Witnesses by Mewett and Sankoff). KF 8950 S26 / Practice Collection, 2nd Floor; also on ProView in the library.


Colinvaux’s Law of Insurance, 12th ed. KF 1164 C64 2019 / 1st Floor.

Hudson’s Building and Engineering Contracts, 14th ed. KF 902 H82 2020 / 1st Floor.

Snell’s Equity, 34th ed., by McGhee et al. KF 399 S6 2020 / 1st Floor.

Spencer Bower and Handley: Res Judicata, 5th ed. KF 8992 B8 2019 / 1st Floor.

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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.