James Muir, BA (Hons) (University of Manitoba), MPhil (University of Waikato, NZ), MA and PhD (York University)

Joint Professor, Faculty of Arts - History, Classics, & Religion Dept


Joint Professor, Faculty of Arts - History, Classics, & Religion Dept
(780) 492-0858
234 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
T6G 2H4



Dr. James Muir joined the Faculty of Law in 2006. He teaches Legal History in the Faculty and in the Department of History & Classics.

Dr. Muir's research interest is in Canadian legal history. His most recent book is a study of civil law in practice in eighteenth century Halifax. He has published on class and reception of law, procedure at the first session of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in 1755, the development of personal injury, tort and contract in nineteenth-century Nova Scotia and legal historiography. 


  • Legal History
  • Labour & Employment Law
  • Socio-legal Studies & Research Methods
  • Legal Methodologies & Pedagogies

Scholarly Activities

Research - On-going research and writing projects

Law and Community in the Maritimes

I am currently working on social history of law research on Nova Scotia at the end of the eighteenth century and Prince Edward Island in the century before 1873. I am using quantitative and qualitative historical methods to do this study. I am particularly interested in the ways communities, defined by place, ethnicity, gender, status, class, and religion came into contact with the law.

Teaching the Constitution in Games

Along with Prof. Peter Carver (Faculty of Law), I have developed two games based on confederation and patriation. Having taught the games several times at the University of Alberta, I am preparing them now for publication and broader dissemination.

Documenting Law

In this project I am considering the ways law is portrayed in documentary films. The project, in its infancy, is built at the intersection of legal studies, film studies and cultural history. Unlike my other research, this project is not limited to, or even particularly, Canadian in focus.

Other - Public History

I work with the Alberta Labour History Institute (ALHI) in collecting and sharing the history of working people in Alberta. ALHI has produced books, films, booklets, posters, and conferences for the general public, shares its large oral history collection, and has engaged in public and union education projects around the province and beyond. 


Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax

Author(s): James Muir
Publication Date: 2016
External Link: https://www.osgoodesociety.ca/book/law-debt-and-merchant-power-the-civil-courts-of-eighteenth-century-halifax/

Property on Trial: Canadian Cases in Context

Author(s): Eric Tucker, James Muir, Bruce Ziff
Publication Date: 2012
External Link: https://www.osgoodesociety.ca/book/property-on-trial-canadian-cases-in-context/

"Alberta Labour and Working-Class Life, 1940–1959"

Author(s): James Muir
Publication Date: 2012
Publication: Working People in Alberta: A History
Page Numbers: 108-139
External Link: http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120194

"The Fight for Bourgeois Law in Nova Scotia, 1749-1753"

Author(s): James Muir
Publication: Histoire sociale/Social history
Volume: 49
Issue: 98
Page Numbers: 1-25
External Link: https://muse-jhu-edu.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/article/622861