Education: Trent University, B.A.; University of Toronto, L.L.B.; Harvard University, L.L.M. Hobbies and other interests: Canoeing.
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, became professor, vice dean, Common Law Section, 1994-97. IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, codirector. Former executive director of Council of Canadian Law Deans and Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals. Has worked on research projects for several public policy bodies.
Council of Advisors, Canadian Canoe Museum; trustee, Quetico Foundation.
(With Bruce W. Hodgins) The Temagami Experience: Recreation, Resources, and Aboriginal Rights in the Northern Ontario Wilderness, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 1989.
(With G. Bruce Doern and Nancy Olewiler) Getting the Green Light: Environmental Regulation and Investment in Canada, C.D. Howe Institute (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.
Environmental Law, Irwin Law (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997, second edition, 2002.
Idleness, Water, and a Canoe: Reflections on Paddling for Pleasure, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 1997.
The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage, UBC Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2007.
Contributor to books, including Essays in Canadian Legal History, Volume 2, edited by David H. Flaherty, University of Toronto Press, 1983; and Inside the Law: Canadian Law Firms in Historical Perspective, edited by Carol Wilton, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 1996. Contributor of articles to journals, including Ottawa Law Review, Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, University of Toronto Law Journal, McGill Law Journal, and Journal of Canadian Studies.
Jamie Benidickson is a specialist in environmental law and public policy whose writings have dealt with both the joys of the outdoors and the effect of modern society on nature. The former is the focus of Idleness, Water, and a Canoe: Reflections on Paddling for Pleasure, a survey of canoeing in Canada and elsewhere over several centuries. He describes the evolution of canoeing from a means of commerce used in the fur trade to a recreational activity enjoyed by such famous Canadians as former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and best-selling author Margaret Atwood. He notes the popularity canoeing has also gained in the United States and Europe, and offers stories about canoe voyages by historical figures including Scottish rebel Rob Roy. The book discusses the various types of canoes and features numerous photographs and illustrations depicting the sport in various eras.
Several reviewers found the book lively and engaging. "The reader can dip into any section or subsection and come away stimulated, entertained, and occasionally even angry at the use and abuse to which the canoe has been submitted," commented Bruce W. Hodgins in the American Review of Canadian Studies. Hodgins called the volume "a magnificent book" that treats canoeing "seriously but with good humor and irony." Michael Peake, writing for the Web site Canoe, reported that "Benidickson has done a great service to the academically-minded paddler" by providing a wealth of "ideas that take an educated canoeist's mind cruising off in many directions" in a work that is "thoughtful, well-researched and a great canoe trip on its own."
Benidickson deals with a less appealing, if important, subject in The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage. This book describes how sewage disposal has developed over the past two hundred years, especially in cities in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He notes that, at one time, untreated waste water was dumped into lakes and rivers, which were considered to be "nature's sewers." Health hazards and complaints about odors led to the construction of treatment facilities. Still, pollution from sewage endangers the supply of drinking water, and Benidickson sees a need for vigilance and activism to strengthen environmental protections.
Some critics saw the book as both a fascinating history and a compelling call to action. Benidickson shows "that the uncontroversial reputation of flushing in our ‘effluent society’ is deceptive," remarked Bob Aaron in the Toronto Star. Aaron continued: "The author's thesis is that over time, rivers, lakes, vulnerable aquifers and coastal waters have been sacrificed to waste through ignorance of the consequences and misunderstanding and delusion about the apparent infinity of the oceans." Because of this, Aaron concluded, the "flush-and-forget approach" is no longer acceptable. Shahla F. Ali, writing in Law & Politics Book Review, thought Benedickson provided a thorough history of sewage treatment, narrated "with clarity and insight," noting that "each step in the murky legal and cultural history of waste disposal, including the legislative attempts, the arguments made in court, the judicial opinions issued at various stages of ongoing litigation is clearly summarized" and put into social, political, and environmental context. Ali wished for more information on how environmental regulations are crafted and how effective they are, but found the book valuable nonetheless. Ali praised the author for "encouraging members of a consumer society to consider the impacts of the choices we make on environmental degradation, and the responsibilities we share in handling waste responsibly," and observed that the "book initiates an important dialogue on our treatment of waste, and by no means closes the lid on future work in the area."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Review of Canadian Studies, summer, 1999, Bruce W. Hodgins, review of Idleness, Water, and a Canoe: Reflections on Paddling for Pleasure.
Beaver: Exploring Canada's History, April 1, 1991, J.M. Bumstead, review of The Temagami Experience: Recreation, Resources, and Aboriginal Rights in the Northern Ontario Wilderness, p. 55; December, 1997, review of Idleness, Water, and a Canoe, p. 44.
CA Magazine, November, 1994, review of Getting the Green Light: Environmental Regulation and Investment in Canada, p. 18.
Canadian Bar Review, February, 2000, Peter Bowal, review of Environmental Law, p. 296.
Canadian Geographic, October 1, 1989, Margaret Mironowitz, review of The Temagami Experience, p. 92.
Canadian Historical Review, June, 1990, James Morrison, review of The Temagami Experience, p. 303; September 1999, Colin D. Howell, review of Idleness, Water, and a Canoe, p. 514.
Canadian Journal of Political Science, December, 1989, Jeremy Rayner, review of The Temagami Experience, p. 872.
CM Magazine, September, 1989, review of The Temagami Experience, p. 240.
Journal of Economic Literature, March, 1995, review of Getting the Green Light, p. 389.
Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, December, 1998, Marie-Ann Bowden, review of Environmental Law, p. 127.
Law & Politics Book Review, October, 2007, Shahla F. Ali, review of The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage, pp. 777-780.
Literary Review of Canada, April, 2007, David Cameron, "Down the Toilet," p. 10.
Maclean's, September 10, 2007, "Finally, a Book about … Toilet Culture," p. 90.
Nature Canada, fall, 1990, Paul R. Martin, review of The Temagami Experience.
New Yorker, August 9, 1999, review of Idleness, Water, and a Canoe, p. 18.
Probe Post, fall, 1990, review of The Temagami Experience.
Quill & Quire, August, 1989, review of The Temagami Experience, p. 27.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 2003, review of Environmental Law, p. 169.
SciTech Book News, June, 2007, review of The Culture of Flushing.
Seasons, spring, 1990, review of The Temagami Experience; winter, 1998, review of Idleness, Water, and a Canoe.
Toronto Star, October 20, 2007, Bob Aaron, "‘Effluent Society’ Can't Afford to Flush ‘n’ Forget," p. H2.
Canoe,http://www.canoe.ca/ (January 30, 2008), Michael Peake, review of Idleness, Water, and a Canoe.
Quetico Foundation Web site,http://www.queticofoundation.org/ (January 30, 2008), brief biography.
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law Web site,http://www.commonlaw.uottawa.ca/ (January 30, 2008), brief biography.