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Reading, Questions, and Resources

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Suggestions for Further Reading


Benn, Carl. The Iroquois in the War of 1812. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.

Brode, Patrick. Sir John Beverley Robinson: Bone and Sinew of the Compact. Toronto: The Osgoode Society, 1984.

Fraser, Robert (editor). Provincial Justice: Upper Canadian Legal Portraits. Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1992.

Romney, Paul. Mr. Attorney: The Attorney General for Ontario in Court, Cabinet, and Legislature, 1791-1899. Toronto: The Osgoode Society, 1986.


Cook, Terry. "John Beverley Robinson and the Conservative Blueprint for Upper Canada." Ontario History 64 (1972): 79-94

Cruickshank, E.A. "John Beverley Robinson and the Trials for Treason in 1814." Ontario History 25 (1929):191-219.

Riddell, W.R. "The Ancaster ‘Bloody Assize of 1814." Ontario History 20 (1923): 107-125.

Romney, Paul and Barry Wright. "State Trials and Security Proceedings in Upper Canada during the War of 1812." In Canadian State Trials, Vol. I: Law, Politics, and Security Measures, 1608-1837, ed. F. Murray Greenwood and Barry Wright. Toronto: University of Toronto Press and The Osgoode Society, 1996.

Saunders, Robert E. "What was the Family Compact?" Ontario History 49 (1957): 165-178.

Saunders, Robert E. "John Beverley Robinson." Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. IX, 668-679.

Weekes, W.M. "The War of 1812: Civil Authority and Martial Law in Upper Canada." Ontario History 48 (1956): 147-161.

Study Questions

  1. In the first letter in the letterbook Robinson describes himself as "young and inexperienced." Do you get the sense from the letters that Robinson was lacking in confidence?
  2. What legal issues did the Attorney General have to deal with during the War of 1812?
  3. Some historians have criticized the ways in which Robinson exercised power throughout his career, arguing that abuses of civil liberties destroyed public confidence in the government and the justice system. Do you see any signs in these letters that Robinson was willing to compromise adherence to the rule of law to achieve political ends?
  4. To what extent were the civil and military authorities intertwined in Upper Canada during the War of 1812? What impact did the concentration of power have on inhabitants of the colony?
  5. What do these letters demonstrate about communications in wartime Upper Canada?


Several biographies of Robinson, originally published in the nineteenth century, can be read at Early Canadiana Online:

For Robinson's views on the impact of the War of 1812 on the British North American colonies, see The War of 1812 and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism edited by Marijan Salopek.

Information on the events leading to Confederation, including the War of 1812, can be found at the following sites:

To find out what the Attorney General does today, look at the Ministry site.

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