The J.J. Talman Lecture Series


Speaker: Dr. Lori Chambers

Title: Legal Story-Telling: Case Files and the Historian 

Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2024 

Time: 2:30 pm

Location: Conron Hall, University College (UC 3110)

Reception to follow 

Our 2023-2024 Speaker

Image of Lori Chambers

Professor Lori Chambers, Lakehead University

Lori Chambers is Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Lakehead University. She specializes in legal history and contemporary legal issues, with a focus on adoption, intimate partner and sexual violence, and human rights legislation. Dr. Chambers has been the recipient of numerous academic awards, including the 2001 and 2008 Alison Prentice Awards for the best book in Ontario women’s history and the 2011 Canadian Journal of Law and Society’s English Language Article Prize. In addition to publishing an array of co-authored and co-edited articles and books, Professor Chambers has produced several monographs, including A History of Adoption Law in Ontario, 1921-2015 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2016); Misconceptions: Unmarried Motherhood and the Ontario Children of Unmarried Parents Act, 1921-1969 (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2007); and Married Women And Property Law In Victorian Ontario (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1997). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, class of 2021. 

Diverse sources such as archival materials, legal data bases, legislation, and newspapers are very useful for story-telling in the study of law. I will provide examples of how I have utilized all of these sources in various ways, particularly to tell single-person stories that build out from one case. I will focus on the case Martinie v The Italian Society of Port Arthur (1995). Giovannina (Joanne) Ruberto, a young Italian Canadian woman living in Thunder Bay, submitted a membership application to the all-male fraternal Italian Mutual Benefit Society of Port Arthur (presently the Italian Society of Port Arthur). When the group denied her membership, she filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission claiming sex discrimination. In June 1995, human rights tribunal handed down its decision in favour of the society; as a “special interest organization” protecting Italian culture, it was permitted to discriminate against Ruberto. Little has been written about this case, but Martinie is important, not only because of the specifics of the challenge and the fact that the Italian Society continues to exclude women, but also because of the insight it provides about gender-based struggles within immigrant communities, and the limitations – and contradictions – of human rights regimes.

About the J.J. Talman Lecture Series

image of J.J. TalmanPresented by the Department of History and Western Libraries

The J.J. Talman Lecture Series focuses on Ontario history, Ontario regional collections and innovative uses thereof, or previously unstudied aspects of Canadian history.

Reflecting the breadth of Dr. Talman’s career at Western, as a respected historian and Chief Librarian, the lectures are organized annually by a joint committee comprised of representatives from the Department of History and Western Libraries.

The J.J. Talman Lecture Series was envisioned and is funded by Raj Jain, Librarian Emerita, and her brother, Dr. Sushil Jain, in gratitude for Dr. Talman’s many personal kindnesses, and to recognize his substantial contribution to Western.

Past Talman Lectures

Year Lecturer Lecture Title
2023 Dr. Kevin Spooner Canada's Peacekeeping History: Symbols, Contradictions, and Hard Truths
2022 Prof. Linda Mahood The Legend of the Wawa Hitchhiker: Youth Mobility in the Hippie Generation
2020 Dr. David Koffman Unsettling Ethnic History: Jewish Indigenous Encounters in Canada
2019 Dr. Barrington Walker The Honourable Leonard Braithwaite: The Imprint of a Black Canadian Legal Pioneer on the History of Modern Ontario
2017 Prof. Constance Backhouse Viola Desmond: Her Historic Challenge to Race Segregation in Canada and Her Appearance on Our $10 Note
2015 Prof. Jane Errington 'A burthen to the community'? J.B. Hawke and Managing Migration to Upper Canada
2013 Prof. Alan Taylor Settling and Unsettling Borders: Continental Legacies of the War of 1812.
2012 Dr. Cecilia Morgan "Among the Six Nations": Celia B File and the Politics of Writing Memory, History and Home in Southern Ontario, 1920s-1960s
2011 Dr. Tim Cook Ghosts from the Trenches: Stories of the Supernatural and the Uncanny among Canada's Great War Trench Soldiers
2009 Dr. Carl Benn Mohawks in the Sudan War, 1884-85
2008 Dr. Peter Neary From War to Peace: Canada in the 1940s


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