Office of the Governor General of Canada fonds [multiple media]
Record Information – Brief
Office of the Governor General of Canada fonds [multiple media]
- Hierarchical level:
- 1765- .
- R178-0-5-E, RG7, RG7M 78903/44
- Type of material:
- Textual material, Maps and cartographic material, Moving images, Sound recordings, Objects (including medals and pins)
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
33 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- 1765- .
- Bilingual equivalent:
- Place of creation:
- No place, unknown, or undetermined
ca. 236 m of textual records.
0.125 m of photostats.
ca. 32,350 photographs.
92 videocassettes (ca. 92 h)
39 audio cassettes (ca. 35 h, 15 min)
31 film reels (ca. 21 h)
27 audio reels (ca. 25 h)
3 audio discs (ca. 2 h)
- Language of material:
- Added language of material:
- English, French
- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Office of the Governor General of Canada and by the colonial predecessors of that office. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description.
As regards the pre-Confederation period, some general comments about the relationships among the various levels of administration are useful at this point in order to provide a context for understanding the scope and type of records created. The Governor or Lieutenant Governor of each colony in British North America may be seen to have maintained three levels of communication, which are reflected in the structure of the record-keeping systems in their offices. Great consistency is evident in the segregation of despatches prepared in the Governor's name (first and second level) from letters prepared at his orders but signed by his Secretaries (third level).
At the first level were despatches exchanged with the Colonial Office. More detailed comments on the nature of this relationship and the records it created are found elsewhere within this fonds in the descriptive entry for the Correspondence with the Colonial Office series.
At the second level were despatches exchanged with fellow governors and senior officials who might be categorized as colleagues. Although practice varied in detail from one colony to another and over time, despatches exchanged between the Governor-in-Chief and Lieutenant Governors, with the Commander of the Forces, the British Minister at Washington and with certain senior government officers were traditionally filed or recorded together. The resulting series of despatches received, drafts of outgoing despatches and entry books of despatches received or sent may not at first glance appear as so coherent a mass, particularly as not all the records have survived. The text of any one despatch may be found in multiple locations: as received by the addressee, as recorded (in an entry book) by the signatory for future reference, or as a duplicate/copy sent to a third party for reference. Thus, while no one series can be said to be complete, the texts of all documents relevant to a specific question can generally be tracked down in at least one location.
At the third level were letters addressed to and received from subordinates. Responsibility for preparing and signing correspondence at this level was delegated to the Private, Civil or Military Secretaries. More detailed comments on the nature of this relationship and the records created are found elsewhere within this fonds in the descriptive entries for those series which contain records created and maintained by the Civil and Military Secretaries.
- Biography/Administrative history:
Canada. Governor General : To trace the development of the functions of the governor from the inauguration of British rule in Canada to the present day would be to write a history of constitutional development in Canada. The comments which follow are meant only to place in context the role of the governor within state administration, first in the period from the beginning of British rule up to Confederation, and then in the years following 1867. From the date of his swearing the oath of office, each colonial governor exercised the civil powers delegated to him by a Commission from the Monarch, in accordance with the accompanying Royal Instructions and such supplementary instructions as were received formally or through despatches from the Secretary of State responsible for colonial affairs. From 1763 to 1791, the Commission was issued to the Captain General and Governor in Chief of Quebec. From 1786 until Confederation, the Governor-in-Chief of Quebec or Lower Canada held separate Commissions authorizing him to administer the other provinces of British North America, but in fact the Lieutenant Governors appointed to administer those provinces exercised the office of governor and fulfilled the Royal Instructions for their respective jurisdictions. While Lord Durham and his successors held the Commission of Governor General of the provinces of British North America, they operated under their Commissions as Governor-in-Chief of Lower Canada, or of the Province of Canada. In the absence of the Governor or Lieutenant Governor, the senior member of the Executive Council or the senior military officer commanding in the province assumed the office of Administrator (or President), pursuant to the Royal Instructions. The governor's Commission and Instructions provided directives regarding the line of succession to be followed. In addition to their civil powers, the governors held, by their Commissions, certain military powers with the title of Captain General. However, supreme military authority was vested in the Commander of the Forces for British North America. In some instances, the same individual occupied both roles. However, whether such was the case or not, the governor was always closely concerned with military affairs. For those governors who also served as Commander of the Forces, it was possible to visit other provinces without supplanting the Lieutenant Governor in the civil administration by the expedient of making the visit in their military capacity. Jurisdiction in maritime matters was provided to the governors by a Commission of Vice Admiralty. Within that jurisdiction came trials for piracy and other crimes on the high seas. As a representative of the Crown in and for the colonies of British North America, each Governor or Lieutenant Governor also undertook certain responsibilities for external relations. The office of the governor, together with the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office formed the channel for correspondence with foreign governments. While diplomatic negotiations were conducted by officers of the British Foreign Office, on occasion the governor was called upon to act as a quasi-diplomatic agent of the colonial government. There was a continual exchange of views and information between the British Minister at Washington and the governors in British North America on subjects concerning relations with the United States. The first colonial governors appointed under the British regime, as the representatives of the Crown, nominated by the British Government, exercised prerogative powers to decide on matters in virtually every sphere of civil administration. Before the principle of responsible government was accorded general acceptance, however, few decisions were made on important matters until the governor had referred the subject to the Colonial Office for advice and instructions. As a consequence, the governors during this period carried on a voluminous exchange of information and advice with the British colonial authorities concerning events which were transpiring in British North America. With the coming of responsible government in the British North American colonies, the tone and volume of the governor's correspondence with the Colonial Office began gradually to change. Matters which were considered as being entirely within the domestic sphere were generally reported in much less detail than in the earlier years. It should be noted, however, that there was no rigid dividing line and the governor was expected to keep the British Government well informed on all events which had real or potential Imperial implications. The functions of the staff within the office of the governor are also reflected in the records found in this fonds. While a governor communicated with colleagues in other jurisdictions and with senior officials in his own name, letters and petitions from individuals (even when addressed to the governor) were responded to by the Secretaries on his behalf. Matters relating to the civil administration of the province were handled by the Civil Secretary and those relating to military affairs by the Military Secretary. The superintendence of Indian affairs was at various times classed as a matter of civil or military administration. Distinctions among the responsibilities of various offices are often not readily apparent. While the Private Secretary was on the personal staff of the governor, the Civil Secretary was part of the permanent staff of the province, although on occasion one individual held both offices. Continuity of operations was provided by the Civil and Military Secretaries remaining in office while governor succeeded governor. At Confederation in 1867, the British North Amercia Act (Section 12) consolidated the reserve powers of the British Crown in Canada and specified that these powers should be exercised by the Governor General of the new Dominion of Canada: "All Powers, Authorities, and Functions which under any Act of the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland, or of the Legislature of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Canada, Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, are at the Union vested in or exerciseable by the respective Governors or Lieutenant Governors of those Provinces, with the Advice, or with the Advice and Consent, of the respective Executive Councils thereof, or by those Governors or Lieutenant Governors individually, shall, as far as the same continue in existence and capable of being exercised after the Union in relation to the Government of Canada, be vested in and exerciseable by the Governor General, with the Advice or with the Advice and Consent of or in conjunction with the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, or any Member thereof, or by the Governor General individually, as the Case requires, subject nevertheless (except with respect to such as exist under Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain or of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) to be abolished or altered by the Parliament of Canada." (Elmer Dreidger, A Consolidation of the British North America Acts, 1867-1965, Department of Justice, Ottawa, 1967). Before that time, these Crown prerogatives had been transferred to the colonies at various times by Letters Patent, governor's Instructions and Commission. From 1867 to the present, events and legislation have tended towards an increasing Canadianization of the Office of the Governor General. Immediately following Confederation, until 1878, the position of the Governor General continued to be based on convention. The Governor General's Instructions, which required him to refer bills concerning a variety of matters including, among other matters, legal tender, control of the military, and divorce to Britain for decision or consent, remained in force. In 1878, Letters Patent established the Office of the Governor General, and removed his obligation to refer such matters to Britain. The Governor General continued to function as both a representative of the government of the United Kingdom and the representative of the sovereign until the Imperial Conference of 1926. At that point, the Governor General ceased to represent the British government in Canada, and ceased to report to a member of the British Cabinet. Thereafter, the Governor General reported directly to the sovereign. In 1947 new Letters Patent delegated all the monarch's powers in Canada to the Governor General although, as Smith notes, it was not until the 1970s that the Governor General exercised this prerogative in all areas related to international relations. Subsequent attempts to reform the constitutional role of the Governor General, most notably Bill C-60, which was introduced in 1978 (but did not become law), continued to reflect the trend towards Canadianization of the role of the Governor General. (Source: David E. Smith, The Invisible Crown, University of Toronto Press, 1995, pp. 33, 40).
- Finding aid:
Textual records (Paper) Finding aids that relate to the contents of specific series, sub-series, and sub-sub-series are described in the entries for those lower levels. (90: Open)Textual records (Paper) The finding aids currently available for that portion of the records which is in the physical custody of the Canadian Archives Branch (CAB) differ somewhat from those available for that portion of the records which is in Government Records Branch (GRB) custody. The primary finding aid for all the CAB-controlled records is the CAB RG 7 Shelf List. It does not have a finding aid number. Rather, it takes the form of a binder which combines both a typed narrative description of the holdings (i.e., an inventory) and a typed listing of the records at the volume-title level of description. The CAB RG 7 Shelf List is organized internally according to the former arrangement structure of the fonds. That is to say, it groups the record lists under series numbers (e.g., G 1, G 2, G 3) and series titles which have been superseded in the most recent intellectual arrangement of the fonds. Until such time as the information in the CAB RG 7 Shelf List can be automated, however, it must continue to serve as the principal detailed finding aid for the records in CAB custody. In order to facilitate this continued use of the CAB RG 7 Shelf List, a finding aid note appears in lower level descriptive entries directing the user to the appropriate section of the CAB RG 7 Shelf List. For example, the records now described as the Drafts of despatches to the Colonial Office sub-series (MIKAN record 126298) were formerly known as RG 7, series G 9. A finding aid note in the descriptive entry directs the user to the G 9 section of the CAB RG 7 Shelf List for a volume list. (90: Open)Textual records (Paper) Users may also wish to consult David Parker's Guide to Materials for United States History in Canadian Archives (Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1913) and A Guide to the Documents in the Manuscript Room at the Public Archives of Canada, vol. 1 (Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1914). Both guides describe only a portion of the current contents of the fonds - that portion which constituted the "G" Series ca. 1913-1914. Moreover, they do so according to an obsolete classification system. Nevertheless, their descriptions continue to have some value. (90: Open)Textual records (Electronic) Finding aid 690 must be used in conjunction with Parker's guides. It is a conversion list that translates Parker's "G" Series references to their equivalents as described in the CAB RG 7 Shelf List. MSS0690 (90: Open)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001145.pdfCartographic material (Electronic) Please consult lower level descriptions. (90: Open)Photographs (Electronic) Please consult series level description (90: Open)
- Additional information:
- General Note:
- Custodial responsibility for the records in this fonds is shared between the Canadian Archives Branch (CAB) and the Government Records Branch (GRB). While the former Branch is, for the most part, responsible for records pre-dating 1867 and the latter Branch for those post-dating 1867, the split of custodial responsibility is not always that neat. As a result, records dating from the post-1867 years will be found in series which are the custodial responsibility of CAB, and vice-versa. Please see lower level descriptive records for more details.
- Source of title:
- British North America Act (1867), sections 10-2
- Custodial history:
The overwhelming majority of the records in this fonds have come into National Archives custody by means of transfer from the Office of the Governor General of Canada. The first records from that source were received in 1904 and subsequent transfers have continued to the present. Included among the earliest transfers to the National Archives from the Office of the Governor General were records which that office had itself inherited from defunct colonial administrations. In 1841, when Upper and Lower Canada were united to form the Province of Canada, the records which had been accumulated in the Lieutenant Governor's office in Upper Canada were transferred to the custody of the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada. At Confederation, the records of the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada were retained by the Office of the Governor General of the Dominion of Canada. In the case of Nova Scotia, although a small quantity of the records of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor came similarly into the Office of the Governor General of Canada in 1867, and were subsequently transferred to the National Archives from that office, the great part of the records of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor was retained in the province and is now in the custody of the provincial archives. When British Columbia and Prince Edward Island entered Confederation in 1871 and 1873, respectively, each governor sent the accumulated pre-Confederation correspondence with the Colonial Office to the Office of the Governor General of Canada., In addition to those records which have come into National Archives custody from the Office of the Governor General of Canada, there are others which have been acquired from other sources. The custodial history of the pre-Confederation records of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick is something of an anomaly in that those records were sent to the Colonial Office in 1867 and were subsequently acquired by the National Archives only in 1922. Small quantities of other records, relating to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, were acquired from the Public Record Office (UK) following the 1908-1910 reorganization within that institution. Still other records - chiefly those maintained by the Civil Secretaries in the Province of Canada and its antecedents - were acquired in 1906 from the Office of the Secretary of State of Canada. Further information about the custodial history of these records is found in the lower level descriptions of the records involved.
- Arrangement note:
The records in this fonds have undergone a number of rearrangements during their period of custody in the National Archives. The first records transferred from the Office of the Governor General, received in 1904, were initially designated the "G" Series. In 1906 records were received from the Office of the Secretary of State of Canada. A portion of these records - chiefly entry books - was also incorporated into the original "G" Series, although the majority of the records coming from the Secretary of State were classified into the "S" Series - Civil and Provincial Secretaries' Records. In 1913, a volume by volume calendar describing the records which had been organized as the "G" Series was published in David Parker's Guide to Materials for United States History in Canadian Archives. Parker subsequently rearranged a portion of the record and a second volume by volume calendar of the "G" Series, which now described the records according to his new arrangement, was published in his A Guide to the Documents in the Manuscript Room at the Public Archives of Canada, vol. 1 (1914)., Between 1914 and 1950, the "G" Series records underwent further rearrangement, this time into 18 series. The prefix "G" continued to be used in the description of the records. In 1950 the record group system of description was introduced into the National Archives. The records of the Office of the Governor General were designated "Record Group (RG) 7" in this system. The existing 18 series of records were augmented by the addition into the record group of records which formed five new series - G 19 to G23. Records which had originally been designated as part of the "S" Series (in particular, records relating to the function of the Civil Secretary to the governor), but which were now recognized as belonging more properly with the records of the Office of the Governor General, were incorporated into the new RG 7. The arrangement structure resulting from the changes introduced at this time is reflected in the publication Public Archives of Canada, Manuscript Division, Preliminary Inventory - Record Group 7 - Governor General's Office (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1953). Additional records were subsequently transferred from the Office of the Governor General and organized into new series G 24 to G 29. The most recent intellectual rearrangement, resulting from the adoption at the National Archives of the fonds concept, was undertaken in 2002-2003., The photographs are organized into a seperate "photographs" series., The audio-visual material has been organized into a separate series entitled Moving Images and Sound Recordings Related to the Governor-General.
- Availability of other formats note:
Many records in this fonds are available on microfilm. Further details are provided in the relevant series, sub-series and sub-sub-series descriptions. Users of the microfilm should note that the terminology used to describe the records on the microfilm copy is not necessarily the same as that found in the descriptive record in ArchiviaNet. The microfilm copy of records filmed prior to the adoption by the National Archives of the fonds system uses the descriptive terminology of the day - viz. Record Group (RG) and alpha-numeric series designations (G 1, G 2, G 3, etc.). That terminology has now changed. For example, the body of records now known as the "Despatches from the Lieutenant Governor in Upper Canada" sub-sub-series, vols. 1-33, was formerly described as "Letter books of despatches to the Colonial Office", RG 7, G 12, vols. 1-33, and is identified in that manner on the microfilm. In order to avoid confusion in locating material on the microfilm, users should note the "Former Reference Number" (e.g., RG7-G12) which is provided in the descriptive entry in ArchiviaNet. Regardless of changes in the series title, that number remains constant and provides the link between descriptions in ArchiviaNet and descriptions on the microfilm.
- Associated material note:
- The Archives of Ontario holds master negatives for certain microfilms. Archivists can consult the 8350 file in the National Archives of Canada's records office for information concerning separate filming for the Archives of Ontario before 1965.
- Further accruals are expected.
- Former archival reference no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
Copyright belongs to the Crown.
In order to protect the fragile originals, many records in this fonds have been microfilmed and the originals withdrawn from circulation. The microfilm must be used for consultation and copying rather than the originals. Further details are provided in the relevant series, sub-series and sub-sub-series descriptions.
- Date modified: