Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Emeritus Jean-Gabriel Castel has added another prestigious decoration to the long list of awards he has received for service to France, Canada and the French community, and for contributions to legal education and the legal profession.
On Bastille Day (July 14), French President François Hollande promoted Castel to Officier de l'Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour). The order is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five degrees: chevalier (knight), officier (officer), commandeur (commander), grand officier (grand officer) and grand croix (grand cross).
The promotion to Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour recognizes Castel’s continuous support of French language and culture and the development of relations between France and Canada at all levels. In addition, Castel holds other decorations from France’s Ordre national du Mérite and Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and is an associate member of the Académie du Var.
Castel, who was a professor of French and Canadian law at Osgoode from 1959 until his retirement in 1999, has reached great heights in his lifetime and is recognized for many achievements, including:
- his service in the French Resistance during World War II for which he received several military decorations;
- his presidency of the French War Veterans from Ontario and Manitoba for 25 years;
- a role as an elected representative of the French people in Canada (he was elected three times to the Assembly of the French Abroad in Paris);
- his presidency of the Private International Law Committee of the Office of Revision of the Civil Code, drafting the part of the code dealing with conflict of laws along with numerous books and publications;
- the creation of the French school Bishop de Charbonnel in Toronto;
- his role – with Judge Lacoursiere and R. Roy McMurtry when he was Ontario’s Attorney General – in making Ontario law and courts bilingual (for which he received the Order of Ontario);
- a 27-year history as the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Bar Review, which – with the support of his friend Louis St. Laurent – Castel transformed into a bilingual review (for which he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada); and
- his contribution to the development of public and private international law (for which an annual lecture in his honour was created at Glendon College several years ago, and he received the Mundell and Read medals).
The author of numerous books, including the celebrated three-volume treatise Canadian Conflict of Laws, Castel earned degrees at the universities of Paris, Michigan and Harvard. He was on the Faculty of Law at McGill University (1954 to 1959) before moving to York University's Osgoode Hall Law School.
Castel is also a Queen’s Counsel in Ontario, a member of the Royal Society of Canada and a Distinguished Research Professor at York University.