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Testamentary Archeology in Late-Victorian Ontario: William Martin's Little, Posthumous Legal System

  • G. Blaine Baker (a1)

This is a 'will-in-context' study of a Toronto bequest of the 1880s that shows how a testator's ideological commitment to freedom of willing and his retention of high-powered legal talent to actualize that commitment were derailed by a hapless or avaricious executor, unpredictable real-estate markets, a lethargic court, and eccentric beneficiaries. It also suggests that self-made private law like contracts, trusts, and wills may be as doctrinally, textually, or administratively contradictory, indeterminate, or unpredictable as state-made public or regulatory law has often been shown to be.


Cette étude d’un « testament-en-contexte » d’un legs à Toronto dans les années 1880 montre comment l’engagement idéologique d’un testateur à l’égard de la liberté de legs a été déraillé, malgé son utilisation des meilleurs avocats pour actualiser cet engagement, par un exécuteur soit impuissant soit avare, par un marché de l’immobilier imprévisible, par des tribunaux complaisants, et par des bénéficiaires excentriques. L’étude permet aussi de conclure que les documents de droit privé faits par le particulier comme les contrats, fiducies et testaments peuvent être aussi contradictoires, indéterminés ou imprévisibles du point de vue doctrinaire, textuel ou administratif, que les documents de droit public ou réglementaire faits par l’État.

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Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
  • ISSN: 0829-3201
  • EISSN: 1911-0227
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-law-and-society-la-revue-canadienne-droit-et-societe
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