Published In

University of British Columbia Law Review

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Land; Title registration; Torrens system; Legal history; Canada; Australia


Systems for recording interests in land are not the subject of much public interest or concern in Canada. Occasionally a sympathetic victim of egregious fraud receives some media attention, but generally the land system operates quietly in the background. This has not always been so, and Greg Taylor's history of Torrens or title registration in Canada reveals a nineteenth century during which the merits and limitations of the common law, deeds registration, and title registration systems were vigorously and publicly debated. Eventually, title registration based on a model first developed in South Australia would prevail in the provinces and territories from British Columbia to Ontario. The civil law jurisdiction of Quebec remains an outlier, and the conversion of the Maritime Provinces to title registration is occurring unevenly, but otherwise Canada, unlike its neighbour to the south which opted for deeds registration systems and title insurance, is a collection of title registration jurisdictions. Taylor’s book, one of only a handful of single-authored national legal histories in Canada, reveals how this came to be so.