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Baldwin, Ged.

Edmonton, University of Alberta Press, 1987. 175pp. cloth, $21.00. ISBN 0-88864-124-9. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Violet Williams

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July

Ged Baldwin practised law in the Peace River district of northwestern Alberta and later became the member of Parliament for that area. Frontier Justice describes in detail ten court cases of the 1930s and later in the frontier agricultural and native communities. Most of the cases, which involve murder or manslaughter, concern feuds about land and women.

Baldwin is a good story-teller. The court cases are interesting to read and frontier justice is depicted well. However, by dwelling on the selfish motives and violent behaviour of a minority of Peace River inhabitants, Baldwin makes the reader wonder why living in this pioneer community is as enriching an experience as Baldwin claims it is.

The last three chapters seem rather unrelated to the rest of the book, which centres on Baldwin's experience as a Peace River lawyer. The last chapter, for example, covers the Peter Treu case, in which Baldwin privately provided Treu (who had secretly been convicted of possessing classified papers without a security clearance) with legal advice. In the House of Commons, Baldwin publicly attacked the government's treatment of Treu, whose conviction and sentence were set aside in 1979.

There are maps of northern Alberta and the Peace River communities, and there are over a dozen photographs of the landmarks and judicial officials of the Peace River district between 1922 and 1964.

Violet Williams, A.Y. Jackson Secondary School, Kanata, Ont.
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