Constituting Canada

W.P.M. Kennedy, the first dean of the University of Toronto Law School, probably would not be hired there today. As we learn from Martin Friedland’s sparkling introduction to the reissue of Kennedy’s 1922 classic, this important figure in Canadian legal history and scholarship had not even a verifiable law degree to his name, even though the university calendar recorded him as holding an LL.B.

Today, the merest hint of puffery of academic credentials is a serious matter. But those were different times in the academic world, as Kennedy’s peripatetic journey to prominence indicates. Born in Ireland to a Presbyterian minister, he left home at 14, and graduated as a gold medalist in history and English literature from Trinity College Dublin. He subsequently spent time at a monastery in England and on the margins of Oxford University. Through his written publications he established a reputation as a formidable Tudor scholar. Yet academic positions in England were evidently impossible to come by.

This content has been updated on August 1, 2017 at 14:41.