Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation analyses the development of the Ontario bar during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries. Ontario lawyers, like many other groups in post-Confederation Canada, were faced with a rapidly changing world. The bar was no longer a small cohort of gentlemen whose relationships with each other and the rest of society could be comfortably governed by informal custom. Major structural changes, such as industrialization and urbanization, produced a new and different society and an environment of uncertainty for lawyers.;The bar responded to these changes by attempting to professionalize. Professionalization is defined here as a striving for occupational autonomy. This study argues that during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, lawyers in Ontario tried to establish, formalize, and justify the bar's occupational autonomy. The analysis focusses on four specific ways in which Ontario lawyers sought to establish and entrench the bar's indigenous control over the practice of law.;Firstly, the bar attempted to secure a monopoly over the supply of legal services in two ways. Its governing body, The Law Society of Upper Canada, tried to establish itself as the sole agency of admission by preventing the legislature from issuing private statutory licenses to practise law. It also sponsored legislation to prohibit non-lawyers from offering advice concerning conveyancing.;Secondly, in 1889, the Law Society established a mandatory law school at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. It did so in order to justify its claims to professional status but, unlike its American counterparts, it refused to delegate any of its authority in the field to the universities. In this way, the legal profession maintained a higher degree of autonomy.;Similarly, between 1876 and 1923 the Ontario bar achieved the ability to maintain autonomous self-discipline by transferring this authority from the courts, an agency of the state, to the Law Society, an agency of the bar itself.;Finally, between 1879 and 1914, lawyers in Ontario established a network of bar associations at the county, provincial, and national levels to, among other things, provide vehicles and forums to justify its autonomy.



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