The records in this series consist preponderantly of correspondence, with the occasional news-clipping, near-print piece (brochure) or photo.
The records largely pre-date Whelan's assumption of the post of Minister of Agriculture; thus, in the main, they reflect his work as an MP in the period 1962-1972. There are certain files that defy this easy chronological separation; for example, the Agriculture - General files (volumes 3-4) range from 1966 to 1980; Beef issues files range from 1972 to 1982 (volume 7); the Bilingual Air Traffic file is from 1976 (Volume 7).
Still, it is fair to say that this series comprises Whelan's MP activity, and, one could say, the MP aspect of his political life after he became Minister. In fact, some files, such as Anderson Public Schools, from 1968 to 1969 (volume 6), and Anderson Township, from 1963 to 1984, are ongoing records of Whelan's first entry into political life, as first a school board member, and then a reeve.
The records are ranged in alphabetical order. File titles are based on individual surnames, association names, significant issues (local, regional and all-Canada), governmental departments or programs - whatever or whomever initiated correspondence on a given issue. The dominant titling is based on governmental department or program; as individuals addressed their concerns and needs to Whelan's office, they were filed under the relevant governmental department or program.
The records very much reflect the activity of an MP assiduously working on behalf of his constituents, for his riding and area. For example, under Immigration cases (volume 28-29), one finds what one would expect - requests for assistance in family re-unification, visa and passport issues, other problems with entry and exit from Canada. Under Manpower and Immigration (volumes 33-36), there are requests for assistance with job issues, with visas for the right to work, with workplace difficulties and perceived improprieties. Under Indian Affairs (volumes 29-30), given that Essex riding encompasses Indian-held land, there are requests for assistance in sale of property, good governance in affected regions, shoreline issues (for recreational purposes) and especially matters associated with the use of Point Pelee National Parkent". There is another bloc of case-type files on intervention to assist constituents; while ranged by department under "Other Departments" (volumes 60-64), once the department concerned has been indicated, the case file name of the individual follows. And under Public Works (volumes 72-74), one sees both the MP and the Minister in Whelan assuring that his riding receives Federal government investment in his riding for the benefit of his electors.
There are also political blocs in this series. There is a run of files on the Liberal Party (volumes 64-67), as well as Whelan's correspondence with MPs, MPPs, and Ontario ministers (volumes 56-59). There is a very large bloc of "Miscellaneous Files", grouped chronologically. There is no easy way to describe the contents of this bloc. For example, but one file (Volume 42, file 3), holds correspondence on the following: FLQ in Montreal, abortion, royalties, animal rights, Confederation, business, establishment of the Canadian Development Corporation (Bill C-219), gambling at casinos on Pelee Island, land prices in Saskatchewan, information from Charles Bronfman on Seagram's, MPs' salaries, thanks for photos, Reader's Digest in Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club, the PM's attendance at a banquet, the Harrow Farmers' Co-op delegation to Parliament, herbicides, international grain sales, researcher requests for interviews, border crossing difficulties, veterans' issues, press / journal articles, electrical businesses, Grain Exchange Elevator in Winnipeg and so on. Some of the correspondence is superficial; other exchanges are not, reflecting Whelan's character and political philosophy, or government policy. Many of the correspondents are from Essex riding; others are from further afield in Ontario; some are from Montreal, Washington DC, Vancouver and elsewhere.
In sum, while much of this series reflects Whelan's work as an MP (looking after the needs of his riding and constituents), there is also more breadth to it. It gives a picture of the man who held the office - his character and his political positions. It provides a picture of how a politician tended to the needs of his "wards" with such assiduity that he owned his riding for nearly a quarter-century. There is no small number of files which overlap with his first ministry (for example, volumes 74 to 84, and many others distributed throughout the series) which give the researcher a sense of how Whelan managed his office and his portfolio. Finally, even in this perhaps less significant correspondence series, there are files with significant political players (Herb Gray, Mark MacGuigan, and various ministers). And there is reflection of the government's development and delivery of programs; for example, the Farm Credit Corporation bloc (Volume 22, for the years 1965-1980) speaks directly of the assistance program for farmers, but scattered throughout the miscellaneous files one also finds this matter addressed.