Added: April 18, 2015 – Last updated: April 18, 2015


Author: Barrington Walker

Title: Race on Trial

Subtitle: Black Defendants in Ontario's Criminal Courts, 1858-1958

Place: Toronto

Publisher: University of Toronto Press

Year: 2010

Pages: 256pp.

Series: Canadian Social History Series

ISBN-13: 9780802099099 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780802096104 (paper) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781442660441 (EPUB) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century, 20th Century | Canadian History | Prosecution: Trials; Society: Rape Myths; Types: Interracial Rape


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Author: Barrington Walker, Department of History, Queen's University


  Foreword (p. ix)
  Acknowledgements (p. xi)
  Introduction (p. 3)
  1 Blackness and the Law in Slavery and Freedom (p. 24)
  2 Nationhood, Mercy, and the Gallows (p. 45)
  3 Black Patriarchy (p. 89)
  4 Tales of a 'Peculiarly Horrible Description': Archetypal Rape Narratives (p. 116)
  5 Race, Sex, and the Power of Dominant Rape Narratives (p. 141)
  Conclusion (p. 183)
  Notes (p. 187)
  Bibliography (p. 231)
  Index (p. 245)


»While slavery in Canada was abolished in 1834, discrimination remained. Race on Trial contrasts formal legal equality with pervasive patterns of social, legal, and attitudinal inequality in Ontario by documenting the history of black Ontarians who appeared before the criminal courts from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries.
Using capital case files and the assize records for Kent and Essex counties, areas that had significant black populations because they were termini for the Underground Railroad, Barrington Walker investigates the limits of freedom for Ontario's African Canadians. Through court transcripts, depositions, jail records, Judge's Bench Books, newspapers, and government correspondence, Walker identifies trends in charges and convictions in the Black population. This exploration of the complex and often contradictory web of racial attitudes and the values of white legal elites not only exposes how blackness was articulated in Canadian law but also offers a rare glimpse of black life as experienced in Canada's past.« (Source: University of Toronto Press)


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James, Carl E. Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal - Études Ethniques au Canada 45(1-2) (Spring-Summer 2013). – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access), Questia (Restricted Access)

Marano, Carla. The Canadian Historical Review 93(2) (June 2012): 330-332. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

Toney, Jared. Labour: Journal of Canadian Labour Studies - Le Travail: Revue d'Études Ouvrières Canadiennes No. 72 (Fall 2013): 335-338. – Full Text: (Free Access), Labour / Le Travail (Free Access), Project MUSE (Restricted Access)