What can our history-minded profession learn from Mary Poppins? // Editor’s Note

Mary Poppins Returns
Both Disney and the Law Society of Ontario are wrestling with tradition in the modern age

By Melissa Kluger

On Tuesday May 29th, 2018

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I’ve been stalking Mary Poppins. In preparation for an upcoming trip to Disney World with my daughter, I installed the park’s app on my phone. This magical mobile tool not only tells me the wait time at every ride and the location of the next parade — it also lets me track the Disney characters scattered around the park for photo ops and autographs. My daughter has always liked princesses, so she’s excited to see Cinderella and her friends, but, even if you put every princess in one room, she would pass them up in heartbeat for the chance to meet a certain magical housekeeper travelling via umbrella. All she wants is Mary Poppins. And, as I’ve learned from tracking her whereabouts, Mary Poppins only makes limited appearances.

But I expect that her low-key profile will soon change. In fact, with a sequel starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda set to arrive in theatres this Christmas, I think Ms. Poppins is about to blow up. Though I’m already planning to take my daughter to see the movie, I am nervous. I mean, why tamper with a classic? Can Blunt stand up to Julie Andrews? Can Miranda match Dick Van Dyke? In an early interview about the film, Blunt reveals that she never had to learn the words to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” saying she’ll “leave that to Julie Andrews.” But what would Mary Poppins be without this mouthful of a song?

That said, I get it: wrestling with old traditions in a more modern time is hard. Indeed, the Ontario legal profession faces an old-versus-new struggle of Mary Poppins proportions. In 2017, the Law Society of Ontario cast off its old “Upper Canada” name, in order to be more modern and inclusive.

And now its coat of arms may, too, be on the chopping block. While Mary Poppins is more than 60 years old, the Law Society crest — which depicts Lady Justice, a beaver and, of all things, a shirtless Hercules — dates back 195 years. In our feature story (“A farewell to arms”), Sasha Chapin unpacks the heraldry and history behind the logo and, in the process, raises some important questions. Should we cling to the past and keep the coat of arms? Should we make minor adjustments with a nod to the present day? Or would it be best to toss the whole thing out and come up with something new? In other words, should we still sing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”?

At this point, what the Law Society will decide is anyone’s guess. It might not be a Christmas blockbuster, but I’m on the edge of my seat.

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Melissa Kluger
Publisher & Editor
@melissakluger


A brief word on Hercules

HerculesLet’s take a moment to talk about Hercules. I was surprised to learn that this bare-chested figure has been a fixture on the Law Society’s logo for 195 years. I was even more surprised after I brushed up on my Greek mythology. I had assumed Hercules was chosen because he represents bravery and strength, but he was also known to make foolish decisions, hold grudges and have fits of brutal rage. And there’s more: he was gluttonous and not particularly bright. I know it can be hard to part with tradition, but do we really want this guy representing our profession? I’d say Hercules has got to go.


More from the Summer issue:

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This story is from our Summer 2018 Issue.


Photo of Mary Poppins courtesy of Disney