Thematic Research Area
Regional Research Area
I teach courses on Canadian history, legal history, and the history of crime and criminal justice. I am also a core faculty member of the Law and Society Minor Programme. I welcome inquiries from prospective MA and PhD students.
- Legal history
- International law and relations
- Canadian-American relations
- Crime and punishment
My research and teaching focuses on legal, political, and international relations history in British North America/post-Confederation Canada, the British Empire, and northern North America. My first book, Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914 (Toronto: UTP and the Osgoode Society, 2016) examines how governments on both sides of the international boundary in northern North America struggled to deal with the omnipresent threat of migrating crime and criminals. It explores the movement and adaptation of international law ideas and their role in the formation of high government policy, as well as how ‘low law’ actors such as local sheriffs enacted their own transnational legal regimes to confront the threat that the boundary posed to the rule of law.
My new project examines the history of international law in Canada more broadly. Funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, it explores the role and power of international legal order in British North America/Canada as well as in Canadian-American relations. It uses a series of case studies involving marriage, Indigenous land rights, environmental conservation and resource extraction, and war and armed resistance to explore how, as the colonies and post-Confederation Canada emerged as state entities, the meaning of their statehood was being reshaped by shifting global legal doctrines.
With Angela Fernandez (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto) and Christopher Shorey (Lerners LLP), I am also writing a book on the case of the Frederick Gerring, Jr., a ship seized by Canada in the 1890’s for illegal fishing in the North Atlantic. As the case wound its way from Nova Scotia, to the Supreme Court of Canada, and finally to an international arbitration tribunal, the Gerring became a symbol of deeply contested ideas about environmental protection, state jurisdiction on the oceans, and international law.
B. Miller. Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1915. Toronto: University of Toronto Press and the Osgoode Society, 2016.
B. Miller, “The Ambivalence of Order: Jurisdiction in the Disputed Northeast”, in Violence, Order, and Unrest: A History of British North America, 1749–1876, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 431-447, 2019.
B. Miller, “Confederation in Court: The BNA Act as Legal History”, Canadian Historical Review, vol. 98, no. 4, pp. 708-726, 2017.
J. Phillips and Miller, B., “‘Exactions Made Upon the Most Distressed Part of His Majesty’s Subjects’: The Public Debate over Judicial Fees in Nova Scotia in the 1830’s”, in Justice et espaces publics en Occident du Moyen Age à nos jours, Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec, pp. 299-314, 2014.
B. Miller, “The Law of Nations in the Borderlands: Sovereignty and Self-Defence in the Rebellion Period, 1837-1842”, in Essays in the History of Canadian Law: Quebec and the Canadas, Toronto: University of Toronto Press and the Osgoode Society, pp. 235-277, 2013.
J. Phillips and Miller, B., “‘Too Many Courts and Too Much Law’: The Politics of Judicial Reform in Nova Scotia, 1830-1841”, Law and History Review, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 89-133, 2012.
B. Miller, “British Rights and Liberal Law in Canada’s Fugitive Slave Debate, 1833-1843”, in Freedom’s Conditions in the U.S.- Canadian Borderlands in the Age of Emancipation, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, pp. 141-169, 2011.
B. Miller, “‘Political imagination, in its most fervid and patriotic flights’: Copyright and Constitutional Theory in Post-Confederation Canada”, Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, vol. 20, pp. 85-105, 2009.
B. Miller, “‘A carnival of crime on our border’: International Law, Imperial Power, and Extradition in Canada, 1865-1883”, Canadian Historical Review, vol. 90, pp. 639-669, 2009.
B. Miller, “Review of James Muir, Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax”, Forthcoming in University of Toronto Quarterly, 2020
B. Miller, “Review of Jacqueline D. Krikorian, et al, eds., Roads to Confederation: Making of Canada, 1867”, Canadian Historical Review, vol. 100, no. 4. pp. 681-682, 2019
B. Miller, “Review of Patricia Roy, Boundless Optimism: Richard McBride’s British Columbia”, University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 83, no. 4. pp. 556-557, 2014.
B. Miller, “Review of Philip Girard, Lawyers and Legal Culture in British North America: Beamish Murdoch of Halifax”, Histoire Sociale/Social History, vol. 45, no. 90. pp. 438-440, 2012.
B. Miller, “History on Appeal: Originalism and Evidence in the Comeau Case”, Borealia, Active History, and Acadiensis, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://earlycanadianhistory.ca/2018/05/03/history-on-appeal-originalism-and-evidence-in-the-comeau-case/.
B. Miller, “The Framers Refuted: Originalism and Constitutional Meaning After 1867”, Borealia, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://earlycanadianhistory.ca/2017/06/30/the-framers-refuted-originalism-and-constitutional-meaning-after-1867/.