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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Feminized Justice

The Toronto Women’s Court, 1913-34

In 1913, Toronto launched Canada’s first woman’s police court. The court was run by and for women, but was it a great achievement? This multifaceted portrait of the cases, defendants, and officials that graced its halls reveals a fundamental contradiction at the experiment’s core: the Toronto Women’s Police Court was both a site for feminist adaptations of justice and a court empowered to punish women. Reconstructed from case files and newspaper accounts, this engrossing portrait of the trials and tribulations that accompanied an early experiment in feminized justice sheds new light on maternal feminist politics, women and crime, and the role of resistance, agency, and experience in the criminal justice system.

240 pages

Law and Society

Table of Contents


1 The Toronto Women’s Police Court as an Institution

2 Feminism, Moral Equality, and the Criminal Law: The Women’s Court as Feminized Justice

3 “The badness of their badness when they’re bad”: Women, Crime, and the Court

4 “What chance is there for a girl?” Vagrancy and Theft Charges in the Women’s Court

5 “Up again, Jenny?” Repeat Offenders in the Women’s Court

6 “Can her justice be just?” Margaret Patterson, Male Critics, and Female Criminals, 1922–34





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