Executive Council Office of the Province of Upper Canada fonds [textual record]
Notice descriptive – Brève
Executive Council Office of the Province of Upper Canada fonds [textual record]
- Niveau hiérarchique :
- Date :
- 1765-1897, predominant 1791-1841.
- Référence :
- R10875-0-8-E, RG1-E14, RG1-E10, RG1-E13, RG1-E11, RG1-E15B, RG1-L6C, RG1-L6D, RG1-L1, RG1-L3, RG1-L4, RG1-L5, RG1-L2, RG1-L7, RG1-L6A, RG1-L6B, RG1-L6E, RG1-E1, RG1-E2, RG1-E3
- Genre de documents :
- Documents textuels
- Trouvé dans :
- Archives / Collections et fonds
- No d’identification :
- Lien vers cette page :
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- Contexte de cette notice :
Notice descriptive – Détails
- Fonds comprend :
10 description(s) de niveau inférieurVoir description(s) de niveau inférieur
- Date(s) :
- 1765-1897, predominant 1791-1841.
- Lieu de création :
- Étendue :
- ca. 89.1535 m of textual records.
- Langue du document :
- Portée et contenu :
Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Executive Council Office of the Province of Upper Canada. The majority of the records in this fonds date from the period between the first and last meetings of the Executive Council, 8 July 1792 and 9 February 1841. However, the fonds also includes a small quantity of records inherited from the pre-1791 period, and a similarly small quantity of records which post-date the Union of the Canadas. The records found in this fonds document, to varying extents, the executive and judicial functions of the Executive Council. The deliberations and decisions of the Governor and Council were recorded as minutes in books maintained by the Clerk of the Council. These minutes are found primarily in two series within this fonds: State Minute Books of the Executive Council; and Land Minute Books of the Executive Council. Rough and draft minutes are found in the Rough and Draft Minutes and Reports of the Executive Council series. The early land settlement in the Province of Upper Canada and, in particular, the mechanisms put in place to deal with the influx of settlers arriving in the wake of the American revolutionary war are further documented in two series: Minutes and Records of the Land Boards Accumulated by the Executive Council; and Records of the Heir and Devisee Commission Accumulated by the Executive Council. Activities of the committees and sub-committees of the Executive Council are reflected in this fonds both in those series devoted to minutes of the Executive Council (where committee reports are entered as minutes) and in the series titled Submissions to the Executive Council relating to the audit of provincial public accounts.
- Provenance :
- Biographie/Histoire administrative :
Upper Canada. Executive Council Office : The Executive Council was among the first institutions established in each colony of British North America. Designed to advise and assist the governor in his executive, legislative and judicial functions, the Executive Council was formed pursuant to the Royal Instructions which partnered the governor's commission. Members of the Executive Council were appointed on instruction from the Crown, conveyed by a Royal Warrant, or at the governor's discretion. The initial appointees to the Executive Council in Upper Canada were named in the Instructions provided to Dorchester as Governor in Chief, dated 16 September 1791, and to Simcoe as Lieutenant Governor. Lieutenant Governor Simcoe met with his Executive Council for the first time on 8 July 1792. A number of the clauses in the Instructions dealt specifically with aspects of the Executive Council's composition and activities, including such things as method of replacement, suspension or removal of Councillors; the quorum required for the transaction of business; and the situations in which the Governor was required to seek the advice and/or consent of Council. In the event that the governor was absent or died, the senior member of the Executive Council assumed his powers as Administrator of the province. The title President of Council was also used, where the senior member had been Chairman or President of the Council. The membership of the Executive Council changed over the years with the death or dismissal of incumbents and replacement appointments. Until Lord John Russell's despatch of 16 October 1839 regarding tenure of office, most Executive Councillors held their appointments for life. However, attendance at Council was irregular, and in some cases most infrequent. Indeed, in response to the need to ensure that government business was not hindered by absenteeism, a system was put in place for the appointment of "honorary" Councillors who attended only when specially summoned. A list of the members of the Executive Council of Upper Canada, with dates upon which they took the oath of office, is provided in Appendix I of the publication Public Archives of Canada, Manuscript Division: Preliminary Inventory, Record Group 1, Executive Council, Canada, 1764-1867 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1953). Subjects referred to the Executive Council were classified either as "state" or "land" business and the records relating to each category were kept separately. Under the heading of "state" business the Executive Council advised the Governor both on the matters he was required to lay before it and on any additional references he chose to make. Business was brought before the Governor in Council by means of submissions. The Governor gave effect to his decisions, made with the advice of Council, through orders-in-council. The deliberations and decisions of the Governor and Council were recorded as minutes in books maintained by the Clerk of the Council. Committees and sub-committees of the Executive Council were formed to deal with various questions. Given the volume of business presented to the Executive Council, committees were nominated from among the Council members to investigate individual issues, and their findings were presented to Council and entered as reports into the minutes. The committee structure evolved over the period 1791-1841, with the system including both temporary and permanent bodies according to the circumstances of the business under consideration. Some committees were of a temporary nature and were appointed to deal with specific business as it arose. Others took on a more long-term status. A committee of the whole Council, for example, handled land business in Upper Canada and separate series of minutes, submissions and related records were developed. In 1827 the general policy of making gratuitous land grants was terminated and a Commissioner of Crown Lands was appointed to supervise the orderly disposal of Crown lands by sale at public auction. Both the lands selected by the Commissioner and his suggested upset price had to be approved by the Governor in council before the sale could take place. The Executive Council's land duties were expected to become less onerous as a result of the new system, but in 1829 gratuitous grants were offered to the officers and men of the "late embodied militia", and the Council was called upon to consider petitions submitted in this connection. The judicial functions of the Executive Council were varied. In addition to serving as members of the Court of Appeals, the councillors considered criminal cases and advised the Governor on appeals for clemency. The Council also, together with the Governor, possessed the power to punish state offences with prison terms. Secretarial duties for both the Council and its committees were performed by the Clerk of the Executive Council and his assistants, ensuring a degree of consistency for the record-keeping associated with those bodies. In the conduct of his duties, the Clerk of the Executive Council prepared and preserved certain records on behalf of the Council - notably the Land and State Minute Books and the submissions on which they were based - and others on his own behalf. The inventories of records preserved and the daily or weekly logs of work performed and information gathered demonstrate the range of responsibilities assumed by the Clerk over time and the nature of assistance provided by his staff in performing those duties. A useful summary of the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Council of Upper Canada, as that body existed just prior to the Union of the Canadas, along with a brief historical discussion of the evolution of the role of the Council, is provided in the Report of the Commissioners appointed in 1839 to investigate the business, conduct and organization of the several public departments. Committee No. 3 was charged with the task of reporting on the Executive Council. In its Report, it characterized the business of the Council under three broad headings - "consultive"; "judicial"; and "fiscal". The Report states the role of the Executive Council in the first of these three spheres as "consideration of reporting and advising upon" references from the Governor upon state affairs; petitions and other applications respecting grants and location of lands; and the affairs of the Canada Company. The "judicial" sphere embraced the Council's role as the Court of Appeal for the Province; the consideration of criminal cases and advising upon the exercise of the Royal clemency; the decision of claims under the Heir and Devisee Commission (of which the Councillors were ex-officio members); and commitments for state offences (this last an authority arising from Provincial Statute passed in the wake of the rebellion). The auditing of the public accounts constituted the "fiscal" business of the Executive Council.
- Instrument de recherche :
Textual records (Papier) Finding aids that relate to the contents of specific series are described in the entries for those lower levels. Inter-relationships among the series are such that a finding aid describing one series may also provide a degree of access to other series. Details of such inter-relationships among finding aids are provided in the relevant series descriptions. CAB RG 1 Shelf List (90: Ouvert)Textual records (Papier) The primary finding aid for the majority of the records in this fonds is the CAB RG 1 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 1 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., E 1, E 2, L 1, ) and series titles which have been superseded in the most recent intellectual arrangement of the fonds. CAB RG 1 Shelf List (90: Ouvert)Textual records (Papier) Until such time as the CAB RG 1 Shelf List can be automated, however, it must continue to serve as the principal detailed finding aid for the majority of the records. In order to facilitate this continued use of the CAB RG 1 Shelf List, a finding aid note appears in lower level descriptive entries directing the user to the appropriate section of the CAB RG 1 Shelf List. For example, the records now described as the State Minute Books of the Executive Council were formerly part of a series known as RG 1, series E 1. A finding aid note in the descriptive entry directs the user to the E 1 section of the CAB RG 1 Shelf List for a volume list. CAB RG 1 Shelf List (90: Ouvert)
- Information additionnelle :
- Note générale :
- Certification of copies for legal purposes can be provided at Library and Archives Canada.
- Historique de la conservation :
The great majority of the records forming this fonds have come to the Library and Archives Canada by means of a transfer from an agency of the federal government. Many were acquired from the Privy Council Office in 1907 as part of a large transfer of pre-Confederation records relating to the Executive Councils of Quebec, Lower Canada, Upper Canada, and the Province of Canada. A few items were transferred later from the Privy Council Office, notably in 1939. Other records were received from the Office of the Secretary of State of Canada in 1906, again as part of a much larger body of records relating to all four colonies. These offices had, themselves, inherited these records at Confederation from the defunct Province of Canada which, in turn, had inherited records in 1841 from the governments of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. Available evidence suggests that the pre-Confederation records deposited in 1867 with the Privy Council Office were not integrated to any great extent into the active record-keeping systems of that agency for continuing operational purposes. Rather, they were placed with that agency, largely for safekeeping, as historical records. On the other hand, it is not clear to what extent the integrity of those records which found their way at Confederation into the hands of the Secretary of State of Canada was compromised during the period 1867-1906. In addition to those records which have been acquired by means of transfer from federal agencies, a small number of others have been acquired from other sources. The provenance of some of these records has been traced through archival accession registers; that of others is subject to further investigation. It seems likely that such documents were incorporated into the Executive Council records on the basis of subject similarity, not provenance. A pragmatic decision has been taken to leave these records attached to the Executive Council of the Province of Upper Canada fonds. Further information about the custodial history of these records is found in the lower level descriptions of the records involved.
- Note sur le classement :
The records in this fonds have undergone a number of intellectual rearrangements during their period of custody in the National Archives. The records that were transferred from the Privy Council Office in 1907 were initially designated the "E Series". The "E Series" included not only records relating to the Executive Council of the Province of Upper Canada but also records relating to the Executive Councils of the colonies of Quebec, Lower Canada, and Canada. The description of the records of the Councils of the four colonies was subsequently further refined with the division of their records, according to the functions of "state" and "land" activities, into an E Series (state) and an L Series (land). Other records relating to the functions of the Councils of the four colonies which were acquired from the Secretary of State and from the Office of the Governor General were initially included in the "S Series" and the "G Series", respectively. Some transfers were effected amongst the E, S and G Series prior to 1950. In 1950 the record group system of description was introduced into the Library and Archives of Canada. The records of the Councils of the four colonies were collectively designated "Record Group (RG) 1" within this system and the intellectual arrangement structure was formalized in the publication of an inventory titled Public Archives of Canada, Manuscript Division: Preliminary Inventory, Record Group 1, Executive Council, Canada, 1764-1867 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1953). This intellectual arrangement schema reflected a broad division of the functions of the Executive Council into State and Land matters, distinguishing the records of each of the two functions by means of separate series and separate alphabetic prefixes (E or L) attached to series numbers (e.g., E1-State Minute Books series; L1-Land Minute Books series). Research to date has not uncovered a full explanation as to why this particular intellectual arrangement structure was devised. Some compromises were required in the intellectual arrangement for practical reasons. For example, the 1953 Inventory explained: "The records were organized in the Public Archives as E Series (State Records) and L Series (Land Records). Although the basic principles of this organization differ considerably from those now followed for the record group system, it has been decided that a reorganization should not be attempted because of the numerous published references to both series... The designation E or L before the series number has been retained as a further indication that the series have not been reorganized but are described together as component parts of the one record group". The intellectual arrangement structure introduced with the inauguration of the record group system in 1950 remained in place until 2002-2003. Following the adoption of the archival fonds concept by the Library and Archives of Canada it was decided to attempt a new intellectual arrangement for the records of RG 1. Record Group 1 brought together the Council records of the four colonies largely according to record type (minute books, draft minute books, submissions, etc.) into series irrespective of geo-political divisions. In the most recent intellectual re-arrangement, it was decided to abandon this schema in favor of one which respects the geo-political reality - that there were four distinct colonies (Quebec, Lower Canada, Upper Canada, and Canada) each with its own Councils. There was not a single "Executive Council" throughout the period of the British colonial regime. The arrangement schema presented here, then, is the result of an attempt to dismantle the intellectual arrangement structure that has existed for five decades and replace it with one based on four separate offices of records creation. A single Record Group has been converted into four fonds: the present fonds titled Executive Council Office of the Province of Upper Canada; Councils of the Province of Quebec; Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada; and Executive Council Office of the Province of Canada. At the same time, an effort was made to more precisely identify many records which had, under the former schema, been consigned to "miscellaneous" series. In particular, the records in former RG 1, series L6 A-E and series L7 were re-assessed and linked more appropriately in the new schema. Because of the inconsistent manner in which successor entities dealt with records inherited from predecessor entities, to say nothing of the arrangement decisions taken over the years at Library and Archives Canada which now obscure original order, it is recognized that the schema presented here remains a "work in progress". Provenance and original order cannot always be re-created and some pragmatic compromises have had to be made. These are explained in the relevant series level descriptions. Intellectual arrangement of the records in this fonds will continue to evolve as investigation continues into the inter-relationships among the records.
- Note de citation/référence :
A number of useful publications are cited in the series descriptive entries to which they are most relevant e.g., the publications relating to the land-granting process and policies noted in the descriptive entry for the Land Minute Books of the Executive Council series. For the report of the committee of the 1839 Commission of inquiry into the public departments which investigated the Executive Council, see Reports on the Executive Council, and Indian Department in Upper Canada, Printed by Order of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor (Toronto: Robert Stanton, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, 1840). Frederick H. Armstrong's Handbook of Upper Canadian Chronology, revised edition (Toronto and London: Dundurn Press, 1985) provides a list of members of the Executive Council as well as a list of Office staff. This book is also extremely useful for its identification of the staffs of the various offices with which the Executive Council interacted. The publication Public Archives of Canada, Manuscript Division: Preliminary Inventory, Record Group 1, Executive Council, Canada, 1764-1867 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1953) provides useful information on the role of the Executive Council and on the records created. Its coverage includes not only the Executive Council in place during the period of the Province of Upper Canada but also the Executive Councils of the Province of Quebec, the Province of Lower Canada, and the Province of Canada. Users are cautioned, however, that the record descriptions found in this publication reflect an intellectual arrangement which has now been superseded. The series structure and series names are no longer in use and the volume numbering should not be relied upon today.
- Note sur les autres formats physiques disponibles :
Many records in this fonds are available on microfilm. Further details are provided in the relevant 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 on the institution's website. The microfilm copy of records filmed prior to the adoption of the fonds system by the Library and Archives of Canada uses the descriptive terminology of the day - viz. Record Group (RG) and alpha-numeric series designations (E 1, L 1, etc.). That terminology has now changed. For example, the body of records now known as the "State Minute Books of the Executive Council" series, volumes 46-57, was formerly described as "State Minute Books: Upper Canada, Executive Council: State Books B-M", RG 1, E 1, 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., RG1-E1) which is provided in the descriptive entry on the institution's website. Regardless of changes in the series title, that number remains constant and provides the link between on-line descriptions and descriptions that are found on the microfilm. In addition to copies of material available on microfilm, it should also be noted that photographic images of selected documents may also be available. Users should contact the responsible archivist regarding consultation of contact proof and transparency indexes.
- Note sur l'emplacement des documents connexes :
- The Archives of Ontario holds a variety of records of the Executive Council of the Province of Upper Canada. And, in the particular case of the Heir and Devisee Commission, it holds records of the "second" Commission which complement those of the "first" Commission held by Library and Archives Canada. Further details are provided in the relevant series descriptions.
- Source :
- Ancien no de référence archivistique :
Pour réserver ou acheter des documents
- Conditions d'accès :
- Modalités d'utilisation :
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 descriptions. In those cases where microfilm is not available, but where attachments, tight binding or size make copying from the originals hazardous, only photography is permitted.
Copyright belongs to the Crown. Please credit the Library and Archives of Canada.
- Date de modification :