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Canada. Canadian National Railway Company

  • GA 123
  • Primary Agency
  • 1919-1995

The Canadian National Railway Company was a federal Crown corporation incorporated on June 6, 1919. The company was established through a series of mergers that united several older and financially unstable railway companies (Grand Trunk, Grand Trunk Pacific, Intercolonial, Canadian Northern, Canadian Transcontinental) that built rail lines in Canada as far back as 1850. One of Canada's first Crown corporations, the company established its head office in Montreal, Quebec in 1923. The company was commonly referred to as Canadian National Railways or CNR from its inception until 1960, when it became known as Canadian National or CN.

The company's primary mandate was the operation of an extensive railway system in Canada and the United States. During its existence, the company also operated many subsidiary businesses, including hotels, cruise ships, truck companies, telephone services and telegraph lines. In 1923, the company established the first radio network in North America that later became the foundation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). In 1937, the Canadian government established a national airline known as TransCanada Air Lines and made it a subsidiary of the CNR. Several decades later, the airline was renamed Air Canada and in 1977 it became a separate company.

The Canadian National Railway Company was managed by a board of directors, appointed by the Governor in Council, and a president. In 1961, the number of members of the Board of Directors was increased from seven to twelve. The company's daily operations were managed by a variety of personnel, including directors, superintendents, station agents, mechanics, freight, ticket and passenger agents, and engineers.

The company's operations underwent many changes in the latter half of 20th century. Many prairie railway branch lines were closed after 1945 and passenger service was terminated in 1978. Many of the company's subsidiaries were sold in the 1980s. On November 28, 1995, the Government of Canada completed the sale of its remaining shares to the public and CN ceased to be owned by the Government. The company currently (2011) operates as a private-sector freight railway company with no other significant lines of business.

Canada. Department of the Secretary of State for the Provinces

  • GA 2
  • Primary Agency
  • 1867-1873

In the reorganization of the Cabinet which confederation made necessary, two new secretarial offices were created - Secretary of State for the Provinces, and Secretary of State of Canada. Staff for the office of the Secretary of State for the Provinces was drawn from the Canada West Branch of the former Provincial Secretary's Office, while the Canada East Branch provided the personnel for the Department of Secretary of State of Canada.

Following the surrender of Rupert's Land by the Hudson's Bay Company to the new Dominion of Canada in 1869 and the subsequent passing of the Manitoba Act in 1870 (33 Vic., c. 3), the federal government, in 1872, devised the Dominion Lands Act (35 Vic., c. 23) as a means by which this vast new territory in the northwest would be administered and gradually brought into confederation. The Department of Secretary of State for the Provinces was originally designated as the federal department charged with administering this act, however, the following year, in 1873, Parliament abolished the Department and created an entirely new department, the Department of the Interior (36 Vic., c. 4), to take over this responsibility. This move effectively placed, within the jurisdiction of a single government department, all federal administrative duties for all unpatent lands west of the Manitoba/Ontario border, for all Ordnance and Admiralty Lands across the Dominion, for all Indian lands, and for all public lands not specifically under the mandate of the Departments of Public Works or Militia and Defence.

Canada. Dept of the Interior

  • GA 4
  • Primary Agency
  • 1873-1936

In 1869, the Government of Canada finalized an agreement with the Hudson’s Bay Company to acquire Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company, an area that incorporates all of the present-day provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, part of British Columbia and all of Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. To centralize the administration and promote the settlement and development of this newly-acquired territory, the Department of the Interior was established by the federal government in 1873. During its 63 years of existence, the Department established a multitude of branches and sub-agencies, with most focused on its core areas of operation related to land sales and survey, First Nations and Métis relations, natural resource development and immigration in western Canada. For periods of time, the Department also administered functions of government that involved operations in all areas of the country, such as immigration, museums, national parks, tourism and geological surveys. Several branches operated within the Department of the Interior evolved into separate agencies or departments of the federal government, including Indian Affairs, Immigration, the Geological Survey of Canada, Parks Canada, and the North-West Mounted Police.

In 1930, the federal government transferred all responsibility for crown land and natural resource administration to the provinces. In Saskatchewan, these functions were assumed by the Department of Natural Resources. The Department of the Interior ceased to exist on December 1, 1936. Its remaining functions were amalgamated with those of the Departments of Mines, Immigration and Indian Affairs to create the Department of Mines and Resources.

Canada. Dept of the Secretary of State of Canada

  • GA 45
  • Primary Agency
  • 1868-1893

The Department of the Secretary of State was established at Confederation and assumed the responsibilities of the pre-Confederation Provincial Secretary which was primarily concerned with civic and cultural affairs. An Act (31 Vic., Cap. 42) was passed in 1868 confirming these responsibilities. In 1873, the short-lived post-Confederation Secretary of State for the Provinces was partially absorbed by the Department of Secretary of State which became responsible for conducting official correspondence with the provinces.

Originally the official channel of communication between the Dominion of Canada and the government of Great Britain, the Department also had the responsibility for state and ceremonial occasions from its inception. Early responsibilities included management of Indian and Crown Lands and the duties of the Registrar General. At various times the Department has been responsible for: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Public Service Commission (PSC), State Protocol, Patents, Copyrights, Trade Marks and Industrial Designs, Elections, Government Printing and Stationery, the Custodian of Enemy Property, and Arts and Culture. It has also been responsible for Citizenship and Naturalization, Multiculturalism, Education Support, and the application of the Official Languages Act. Although many changes in the responsibilities of the Secretary of State have occurred, its primary functions of communication and registration have remained unaltered since Confederation.

The Secretary of State reported directly to parliament during its lifetime on its own behalf and on behalf of numerous cultural bodies including the Canada Council, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and the Public Service Commission (including the PSC Advisory Council on the Status of Women). In 1993, the functions of the Secretary of State, where they continued, became the responsibility of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Canada. Dept. of Agriculture

  • Primary Agency
  • 1867-1995

Established as a body of the government of Canada by Order in Council on July 1, 1867 and it was given statutory basis by Statute 31 Victoria, c. 53, assented on May 22, 1868. The first minister of Agriculture was Jean-Charles Chapais (serving from 1867-07-05 to 1869-11-15), and the first deputy minister was appointed in 1868 (Joseph Charles Taché, serving 1868-05-29 to 1888).

On June 25, 1993, the department was to be restructured and named Agriculture and Agri-Food pending the passage of a Government Organization Act, however Parliament was dissolved before this change could take place. The changes outlined in this act to abolish the office of Minister of Agriculture and establish the office of Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food were enacted by passage of Statute 42-43, Elizabeth II, c. 38 (1994) that was assented to on November 24, 1994 and came into effect on January 12, 1995.

North-West Territories. Dept. of Agriculture

  • GA 51
  • Primary Agency
  • 1897-1905

The government and civil service of the North-West Territories was in an almost constant state of flux in the time period between the creation of the territory and the creation of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905. Rail access to the Canadian west resulted in a population boom, primarily of those involved in farming who moved to the west to gain access to cheap agricultural land. The responsibilities of local government expanded as the population grew.

The Department of Public Works had become a catch-all for many activities but as the population expanded and responsibilities grew, some duties relating to agriculture once handled by the Department of Public Works were transferred to the Department of the Territorial Secretary. It quickly became obvious that these responsibilities were more than expected. On December 15, 1897, An Ordinance Respecting the Department of Agriculture received assent forming the Department of Agriculture.

James Hamilton Ross was serving as both Territorial Secretary and Commissioner of Public Works. Until the creation of the new department, the functions of the Department of Agriculture fell under those two offices. Upon its creation, he was also given the Agriculture portfolio. He held this portfolio until January 21, 1899.

He was followed as Commissioner by George Hedley Vicars Bulyea (January 21, 1899 to February 4, 1903) and William Elliot (February 4, 1903 to August 31, 1905).

On December 18, 1897, John Alexander Reid, Clerk of the Executive Council, was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture. The government felt that work relating to the department could be handled by Reid in connection with his office as Clerk. In June, six months later, the workload necessitated the temporary appointment of Charles Walter Peterson as a dedicated Deputy Commissioner and this position was confirmed on October 13, 1898. Peterson held the position until June 30, 1903. John Rothes Charles Honeyman took over as Deputy Commissioner on July 1, 1903 and held this post until August 31, 1905 (provincial status for Saskatchewan and Alberta).

The first annual report of the department was delivered in 1899. It described little of the accomplishments of the fledgling department but focused primarily on what could be accomplished by the fledgling agricultural industry if given support by government. It promoted the value of experimental farms including test irrigation, the importance of meteorological observations and the need for noxious weed ordinances.

Broad categories of departmental activities included reports on various livestock, registration of livestock brands, support for agricultural societies, fire suppression, wildlife and game and territorial hospitals.

The report for 1899-1900 included an expansion of activities relating to public health.

By 1900-1901, as individual clerks were given specific responsibilities, the roots of distinct branches could be seen:
Statistical - agricultural, meteorological, medical and vital statistics Brands - registration of cattle brands
Accountants - accounts, remittances and deposits
Agricultural Organizations - support for various farming and livestock groups
Records Branch - incoming and outgoing correspondence.

The Department continued until the creation of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905 at which time responsibility devolved to the respective provincial jurisdictions.

North-West Territories. Dept. of Education

  • GA 56
  • Primary Agency
  • 1901-1905

The government of the North-West Territories created the Department of Education on September 1, 1901 following the passage of The School Ordinance (North-West Territories Ordinances, 1901, c.29, s.1), assented to June 12, 1901. It replaced the Council of Public Instruction which had previously administered the territorial school system. At the beginning of 1886 there were 59 schools in the North-West Territories. By 1901, there were 564 in operation.

During the Territorial period, the department was headed by a Commissioner and a Deputy Commissioner. Frederick W. G. Haultain was the first and only Commissioner of Education, serving from August 31, 1901 to August 31, 1905. Haultain had also served as commissioner for the Department of Public Instruction, the predecessor agency, between 1897 and 1901. The position of deputy Commissioner was filled by James Alexander Calder between August 31, 1901 and July 31, 1905. Edmonton (Strathcona) based Duncan Stewart MacKenzie filled the position for only one month, August 1 to August 31, 1905, choosing to take the position of Deputy Minister of Education for the newly formed province of Alberta.

The department had the ability to create regulations:

  • to inspect schools and audit the finances of school districts.
  • to construct, furnish and care for school buildings. This included the creation of standardized plans for one and two room schools that could be provided to districts.
  • for the examination, grading and licensing of teachers.
  • for the examination, grading and issuance of certificates signifying completion of courses of study.
  • to authorize text and reference books and other reference materials, equipment and apparatus required for proper instruction in schools.
  • to approve books suitable for school libraries and the power to make regulations for the management of school libraries.
  • to provide for the training of teachers.
  • to provide for education of the deaf (provided by the Manitoba Deaf and Dumb Institute under agreement with Manitoba) and the blind (students were sent to the Ontario Institution for the Blind at Brantford).
  • to inquire into complaints or appeals relating to school matters.
  • to appoint a person to call a school meeting.
  • to appoint trustees to conduct the affairs of any district.
  • to inquire into regions where no district as yet existed.
  • to revoke any certificates or licenses issued by the department.

The schools were operated on a district basis by an elected board of trustees. Districts could be one of three types - rural, village or town. Creation and continuation of school districts were approved by the department based primarily on the number of students, the supporting tax base and the travel distances for students. Day-to-day issues were handled by the trustees with reports to, and audits and inspections by the department. Trustees were authorized to borrow funds for construction through loans or debentures and to choose the site for the school within guidelines provided by the department.

An Educational Council for the territory was made up of appointed representatives who discussed and reported on all regulations and were authorized to consider any question concerning the education system.

The department was not responsible for higher education. Several abortive attempts were made to establish an institute of higher learning including Emmanuel College in Prince Albert being granted a federal charter in 1883 and the passage, in 1903, of legislation to establish a university. A post-secondary institution was not created until the establishment of the University of Saskatchewan in 1909.

The department remained relatively unaffected organizationally by the creation of the province of Saskatchewan in 1905. However, it was no longer responsible for geographic regions that were then outside of the borders of the new province. As was the case with several other departments, some of the staff transferred to the new province of Alberta, taking with them files relating to areas now part of that jurisdiction.

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