Errors of Fact and Law: Race, Space, and Hockey in Christie v York

Type of resource
Author/collaborator
Title
Errors of Fact and Law: Race, Space, and Hockey in Christie v York
Abstract
"Christie v. York" (1939), S.C.R. 139 is a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada where the Court allowed private establishments to discriminate on the basis of free enterprise. The author contends that the case of "Christie v York" has pride of place among decisions wrongly decided in Canadian legal history. Fred Christie was a black chauffeur in Montreal. On July 11, 1936, Christie and two friends were on their way to a hockey game when they entered the York Tavern at the Montreal Forum, seeking a beer before the game, and the York denied them service on the grounds of race. Or so the facts tell us. The author argues that, as it turns out, a significant error has long been woven into the story of "Christie v York". What were Christie and his friends doing that night at the Forum? The author reveals that they were not attending a hockey game. The real facts, long hidden from view, involve a hot summer night, the Canadian Olympic boxing trials, Joe Louis, American race riots, and a local black boxer. And yet, even in error, hockey matters in the case, especially in Justice Henry Davis's famous dissent. Recasting Christie as a case that turns on the judicial construction of facts, the author highlights the importance of real space and circumstance in creating notions of identity, belonging, and equality. While Christie's errors of law have been the principal source of interest among legal scholars to date, the author argues that Christie's facts, both real and imagined, provide a far richer contribution to the legal history of the complex relationship among race and space and law.
Publication
University of Toronto Law Journal
Volume
Vol. 62
Issue
no. 4
Pages
463-497
Date
Fall 2012
Language
en
Citation
Adams, Eric M. “Errors of Fact and Law: Race, Space, and Hockey in Christie v York.” University of Toronto Law Journal Vol. 62, no. 4 (Fall 2012): 463–497.
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