Series consists of minute books of the Executive Council (i.e., the Legislative Council acting in its executive capacity) concerning state business during the period 1776-1791. While the records in this series are ostensibly the "state" minute books (as distinct from the "land" minute books), meaning the record of the proceedings of the executive council in matters considered to be of state concern rather than land matters, in fact, for the years 1776-1787 (until the formal separation of the "land" and "state" aspects of the Executive Council's work, as represented in the creation of separate land minute books in 1787), these minute books contain documentation of both the Executive Council's state-related business and its land-related business.
The procedures by which the Executive Council carried out its executive work were, in some respects, not unlike those of the pre-1775 Council. Submissions were placed before the Executive Council and proceedings were recorded in minute books by the Clerk of Council and his assistants who also maintained the various papers and reports presented before Council in support of business transacted. Much of the detailed work (e.g., the auditing of Provincial public accounts) was assigned to committees whose members reported to the Executive Council and whose deliberations and recommendations were entered into the minutes. Decisions were given effect through orders-in-council.
From a procedural and records-keeping perspective, the Executive Council meeting of 17 February 1787 is important as it marks the point at which that body began to document its minutes of "land" business in a manner distinct from that reserved for its minutes of "state" matters. From this date forward, two sets of minutes were kept. The immediate explanation for this innovation is not found in the minutes themselves. Neither are the actual procedures by which the Executive Council approached its two parallel streams of work explained. The evidence does not suggest that the Council met in separate meetings for its "land" and "state" work but, rather, that two separate agendas were presented at each meeting at which there were both land and state matters to be discussed. The proceedings and decisions were then recorded in different minute books. While there are occasional duplicate entries in both sets of minutes, that is the exception and so in order to get a full picture of the proceedings of the Executive Council for the period after February 1787 it is necessary to consult both sets of minutes.
Moreover, the line of distinction between "land" and "state" issues was not always clearly maintained in the two sets of minutes. Matters relating to particular land grants, leases and associated topics are documented in the land minute books. Land-related issues of a broad or policy nature, on the other hand, were generally considered to be "state" matters and are found documented in the "state" minute books. As a result, one finds records of land-granting policy, of the acquisition and distribution of Indian lands, of military reserves (Ordnance lands transferred to civil control), and similar topics documented in the state minute books.
The series includes both original minutes (vols. 28 and 111-115) and transcripts (vols. 13-27). The latter are certified typed copies of the originals, prepared by Library and Archives Canada in the period prior to the microfilming of the originals, in order to avoid damage to the originals from frequent use. Although they are copies, these transcripts have been accorded the status of records in their own right within this series and assigned permanent volume numbers accordingly. The transcripts include marginal notations of the corresponding page or folio numbers for the original text. Most volumes contain a rough index or table of contents. The subject entries in such indexes reflect contemporary concepts and follow no standard.