L’histoire de l’ACPD – History of CALT
Une réunion de professeurs de droit convoquée par feu le professeur Frank Scott de la Faculté de droit de l’Université McGill, lors de la réunion de l’Association du Barreau canadien tenue à Ottawa en 1947, a marqué le début de l’Association. Ce fut une réunion informelle au cours de laquelle aucun directeur n’a été élu et aucune résolution statutaire adoptée. On s’est réuni, toujours sans formalité, une deuxième et une troisième fois: à l’occasion des réunions de l’Association du Barreau canadien tenues à Montréal en 1948 et à Banff en 1949. En 1950, la réunion a eu lieu à Kingston à l’occasion du Congrès des Sociétés savantes qui se tenait alors à l’Université Queen’s et on a proposé à cette occasion d’établir une organisation en bonne et due forme qui a vu le jour en 1951 à l’Université McGill. Par la suite, l’Association s’est réunie chaque année, normalement à l’occasion du Congrès des Sociétés savantes, (devenue le Congrès des sciences sociales et humaines).
L’Association a adopté une constitution officielle lors d’une assemblée annuelle, tenue à Montréal, en mai 1985.
En 1998, la professeure Nathalie DesRosiers, alors présidente de l’ACPD, invite tous les anciens présidents de l’ACPD à la réunion annuelle qui s’est tenue sur le campus de l’Université d’Ottawa. Le professeur G.F. Curtis, président en 1951-52, n’est pas en mesure de s’y rendre mais il envoit la lettre suivante à Nathalie DesRosiers, dans laquelle il décrit la naissance de l’ACPD. Nous avons décidé d’inclure cette lettre sur notre site Web, où elle aura une plus grande valeur que si elle demeurait enfouie dans nos archives.
Thursday, May 7.
Dear Nathalie DesRosiers,
…. I have run off a couple of copies of an extract from some “recollections” that I wrote awhile back – quite informal but likely to be of interest to you. A stone tossed into a pond can sometimes create a wave!
All the best for your Ottawa meeting. I much appreciate your warm invitation and am sorry to miss it.
A visit by Frank Scott to my office in the spring of 1949 turned out to have a permanent result. Scott and I always got along well together exchanging ideas. He was, on this particular morning, filling in his time before political meetings which brought him, as a leader in the CCF party, to Vancouver.
Our discussion ranged the compass. As he was going out the door, he stopped and both of us together exclaimed: “We must do this more often. Why not form a law teachers society to get together at least once a year.
We so agreed – Scott to stir up interest in the East, I to do the same in the West. My idea was to alternate our meetings yearly between meetings of the academic societies and the annual meeting of the Canadian Bar Association. An abortive attempt by us to meet at Banff where the Canadian bar held its meeting shortly afterwards, made it clear that co-incidence with the academic meetings was the preferable schedule. Partly this was for the very mundane reason that it was easier to get travel grants to journey to academic meetings than to attend bar meetings.
The practice of universities making travel grants was a post war innovation. During my eleven years service at Dalhousie, I received not one red cent from the university to go to meetings: if I went, I paid out of my own pocket. My fellow law deans and I were determined to change this. We saw the association of law teachers as a help in persuading university administrations that a new day in legal education was overdue. In the natural sciences, there were often travel funds available to faculty members as part of their research grants. The travel grants to law teachers were grudgingly given, but at least they came, and were helpful, even though the grants at first only covered a part of the expenses.
Enough progress along this prosaic line was made to justify a representative meeting of law teachers at McGill in 1951. The lounge of the law school, then housed in a former mansion of one of commercial barons of Montreal, was large enough to hold all two dozen of us. The discussions were lively. They led to the decision to form a permanent body and to meet annually. One of those who attended was Professor F.H. Lawson, of Oxford, who happened to be visiting McGill at the time. During the afternoon, there had been an agitated discussion of the merits of the “case method” of teaching. As the discussion died down, Lawson’s presence at the end of the semi circle sitting around the large fireplace was noticed. His views on the subject were invited. His reply was succinct: “Oh, I really don’t think I can contribute much of value about methods of teaching. You see, Oxford is a reading university.
The Association of law teachers flourished like a green bay tree. It now has a membership in the hundreds, …, has a weighty agenda at its annual meetings, and has taken its place in the pantheon of the Canadian academic world.