At the Crossroads of Fusion: British North America/Canada, 1750–2000

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

Equity and Law, Cambridge University Press, 2019, pp. 97–117,


Canada confederation; Chancery Courts; legal innovation; legal colonialism; Upper Canada; Nova Scotia


The story of the fusion of law and equity often centres on the story of New York state, whence the Field Code went forth, or of England. This chapter shows the more varied experiences of fusion in colonial British North America, and the degree of experimentation pursued by colonial governments that differentiated the local arrangements – and means of administering equity – from the arrangements at ‘home’ in England, or those in New York state. Initially, equity was often administered only by the governor or colonial council – or by a court of concurrent legal and equitable jurisdiction. Specialist Courts of Chancery came later, and were criticised as the confederation movement grew. Later, the legal colonialism set in which saw the ways of administering equity in England mimicked in the colonies. Even then, local variation survived as in relation to the treatment of mortgages.

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