FAQs with John: Historical Point-in-Time Legislation

As a student librarian doing a co-op at the Great Library, one of the first things I learned was locating point-in-time legislation. “Backdating” is the act of tracing the history of an act through its previous versions. In the short time I’ve been at the Great Library, I’ve had several questions about locating historical point-in-time legislation, especially for Manitoba statutes.

I thought I would conduct a quick refresher on how to access these documents using the HeinOnline database behind the Law Society Member Portal.

Let’s say for example you were interested in tracing back the Cemeteries Act to find out what the Act looked like in 1980.

Remember that:

  • Federal statutes were revised in 1886, 1906, 1927, 1952, 1970, and 1985
  • Manitoba statutes were revised 1892, 1902, 1913, 1924 (consolidated amendments), 1940, 1954, 1970, and Re-enacted: 1987-1990

In our example, the closest revision year was 1970. The Cemeteries Act in 1980 will include the 1970 version plus any amendments made up until 1980.

Next, look up the amendments and the 1970 version of the Act. We’ll do this by navigating to the LSM Member Portal and accessing HeinOnline.

Although the year we are interested in is 1980, it’s a good idea to go one year past the year you’re looking for. This way you catch amendments that were made in 1980, but weren’t published until 1981. Select the link for 1980-1981.

Scroll down the left-side menu to click on “List of Statutes in Continuing Consolidation”. Acts are listed alphabetically, and under the Cemeteries Act, we can see the 1970 Revised Statutes of Manitoba version and its chapter, as well as a list of amendments up until 1980, including chapter and section:


The next step is to put all of the amendments into context within the 1970 Act, and then we’ll have a picture of how the Cemeteries Act was comprised in 1980.

For more information about finding historical legislation, access our Finding Point-in-Time Legislation guide in the Legal Ease section of the Great Lexpectations site.