Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




John C. Weaver


This dissertation analyzes the judicial career of Sir John Beverley Robinson, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench (1829-1862) for Upper Canada. Robinson's tenure spanned much of the history of the colony before Confederation. During this time the formation of new corporate interests, steam technology, public works in transportation and urbanization affected the economy and the social relations in the colony. New developments had an impact on the law. This study eyes four areas of Robinson's jurisprudence relating to this transitional era: the reception of English law into Upper Canada, the early development of corporate law, business law pertaining to the commercial development of the St. Lawrence and the initial stages of railway law. In addition, Robinson's jurisprudence is contrasted with contemporary American law. The central argument here is that Robinson's jurisprudence was different from that of American judges, and especialIy with regards to instrumentalism. The thesis argues that these differences can best be understood by relating Robinson's career to unique political, social, economic and other particularities within Upper Canada prior to Confederation.

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