Title and statement of responsibility area
Saskatchewan Homestead Records Administrative Files series
General material designation
- Textual record
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- Canada. Dept of the Interior
- Canada. Lands Patent Branch
- Saskatchewan. Dept. of Natural Resources
- Saskatchewan. Lands Branch
Physical description area
0.900m of textual records
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Archival description area
Name of creator
In 1869, the Government of Canada finalized an agreement with the Hudsons Bay Company to acquire Ruperts Land from the Hudsons 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.
Name of creator
The Lands Patent Branch was originally established in 1881 to maintain the records produced in the land patenting process and to process land applications from institutions. It was originally administered from a central office in Ottawa, but an office was later opened in Winnipeg and local field staff assumed many of the lands patent duties. In 1883, the Lands Patent Branch took over the full functions of a land registry office in relation to federally-controlled western lands. Previously, many of these duties had been administered by the Office of the Registrar General of Canada, part of the Department of the Secretary of State of Canada. In 1928, the name of the agency was changed to Lands Patent Division. In 1930, the Lands Patent Division was dissolved when the provinces took over the responsibility for all unconveyed lands.
Name of creator
The Department of Natural Resources was established in 1930, when responsibility for natural resources was transferred from the federal Department of the Interior to the provincial government under The Natural Resources Transfer Agreement dated May 20, 1930.
The Department was originally administered by a Minister and Deputy Minister and consisted of four branches: Lands; Mines; Fisheries; and Forestry. The head office for the Department was in Regina, with a main Northern District office in Prince Albert and sub-district offices in Hudson Bay Junction and Spruce Lake.
The Lands Branch was overseen by a director. Between May 1, 1943, and April 30, 1944, four divisions were established within the branch: Sales; Cultivated Lease; Grazing; Patents and Homesteads. The Mines Branch, Fisheries Branch and Forestry Branch for the most part retained their administrative structure.
A Water Rights Branch was established between May 1931 and April 1932. In 1933 responsibility for provincial parks was transferred from the Forestry Branch, resulting in the establishment of the Water Rights and Parks Branch. Between May 1, 1936, and April 1937, the branch was split into the Water Rights Branch and Parks Branch.
A Surveys Division was established between May 1, 1932, and April 30, 1933. It became the Surveys Branch for a period between May 1, 1936, and April 1, 1937.
The Game Branch was established May 1, 1932, and operated until April 30, 1933, when the function was transferred to the department from the Bureau of Labour and Public Welfare. During 1938-1939, the Game and Fur Branch was established within the department.
Responsibility for the Provincial Museum was transferred to the department for the period from May 1, 1934, to April 30, 1935.
The poor economic performance and drought of the 1930s resulted in less forest and mineral revenue for the Department and an active role in the provision of relief measures. These included the cancellation of debt owed on School lands and the distribution of coal, timber, hay and grazing areas to farmers.
The Coal Administration Branch was established in 1935 to centralize the control, regulation and administration of coal mining. Administration of The Coal Mines Safety and Welfare Act was transferred from the Bureau of Labour and Public Welfare while the coal regulations under The Mineral Resources Act formerly administered by Mines Branch moved to the new branch.
By 1940, the initial four branches had expanded to ten: Forestry, Mines, Fisheries, Game and Fur, Water Rights, Surveys, Museum, Coal, Lands, and Parks.
During the Second World War, the Department assisted federal initiatives such as the Dominion Wartime Price and Trade Board in monitoring the price and distribution of basic commodities and resources to ensure use in both the domestic market and the war effort.
On November 10, 1944, the Department of Natural Resources was reorganized into the Department of Natural Resources and Industrial Development.
Name of creator
From 1930 to 1947 the Lands Branch, and grant and lease functions, were part of the Department of Natural Resources (later the Department of Natural Resources and Industrial Development.) The initial legislation (The Provincial Lands Act, 1931 and The Land Utilization Act, 1935) and the legacy of the Federal Department of the Interior, which previously held jurisdiction over these responsibilities, provided the framework for Crown Land lease and sale accounting and administration. While the Lands Branch was part of the Department of Natural Resources, the Provincial Lands Division and then (in 1932) the Lands Patent Division carried out the grants and transfer of land. This included handling enquiries, application forms, payments, agreements and recording the disposition of land.
In 1948, control of the Lands Branch was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, which subsequently changed the responsibility for many of the functions from the Land Utilization Division to the Inspection Services Division. During the 1960s, The Agriculture Rehabilitation and Development Act resulted in many of the grants and leases only being permitted for projects related to the development and conservation of water supplies, soil improvement, and /or agricultural efficiency.
In 1975, the Lands Disposition and Records Division of the Lands Branch became responsible for land grants and transfers - by advertising land for lease/sale, by preparing land transfers, and by maintaining the records of lands. In 1984-1985, a reorganization of the Lands Branch saw many of these functions split between the Field Operations and Support Services divisions.
The transfer of the Lands Branch back to the Department of Agriculture and Food in 1993 resulted in another reorganization, splitting the control of leases and sales amongst geographically oriented divisions (i.e. northwest, south). In 1993-1994 the Branch operated under the Financial Support and Program Management Division as part of the Lands and Regulatory Management Branch. This Branch had a broader mandate, including livestock health and operations. With the abolishment of the Crow's Nest Pass annual railways subsidy in February 1995, Lands Branch assumed responsibility for management of the provincial share of the federal payout and amended rental rates on Crown agricultural leases.
In 1996, the splitting of the Lands and Regulatory Management Branch into three branches (Livestock and Veterinary Operations, Pasture, and Lands) resulted in Lands Branch becoming part of the Program and Services Division, where it remained until April 2005. This change marked the first time that the Lands Branch did not hold responsibility for the administration of provincial pastures and the Community Pastures Program. The responsibility was returned to the Branch in 2001 with the amalgamation of Pastures and Lands Branches.
In 2000, the stated mandate of Lands Branch was "to promote the sustainable and integrated use of Crown land while providing opportunities for diversification and economic growth." Between April 2002 and May 2004 the Department operated as the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization. Currently (2011) Lands Branch resides in the Ministry of Agriculture. While the Branch has experienced changes in its structure and in policy and program development, the basic function regarding the administration, sale and lease of Crown lands has not substantially altered throughout its history.
The Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture, Lands Branch transferred these records to the Saskatoon office, Saskatchewan Archives in two accessions between 1954 and 1965. The textual records were transferred to the Regina office, Saskatchewan Archives in one accession: R2004-220 (June 3, 2004).
Scope and content
This series consists records created, accumulated and used between 1882 and 1931 by the federal Department of the Interior, Dominion Lands Administration in the administration of the disposition of lands in Saskatchewan under the provisions of the Dominion Lands Act, 1872 (S.C. 1872, c. 23). The records include: letter books of the Dominion Lands Offices in Prince Albert (1887-1888) and Moose Jaw (1916), monthly diaries of homestead inspectors (1912-1929), ledgers containing circular letters of instructions to Dominion land agents (1882-1883 and 1910-1918), and a time sales register from the Battleford Dominion Lands Office (1886-1911). The series also includes records created by the Saskatchewan Department of Natural Resources, Lands Branch relating to the Saskatchewan Relief Commission and the Settlement Relief Plan (1931-1932).
Additionally, the series consists of records created, accumulated and used by the Dominion Lands Administration (1890-1931) and the Saskatchewan Department of Natural Resources, Lands Branch (1931-1941) in the disposition of a specific parcel or parcels of land available for settlement under the provisions of the Dominion Lands Act, 1872 (S.C. 1872, c. 23) and The Provincial Lands Act (S.S. 1931, c. 14). These include lands in the townsites of Wymark and South Battleford, homestead lands converted to grazing leases, and lands held as timber berths. Files contain records pertaining to various types of land grants, including homesteads, pre-emptions, time sale purchases, and leases.
The types of records included are: applications for entry and for patent; land condition and valuation reports; correspondence; homestead inspectors' reports; sale deeds and receipts; applications for grazing lease; grazing leases; memoranda; diaries and ledgers.
No sub-series have been identified in this series.
Records are in good physical condition.
Immediate source of acquisition
The factors determining the arrangement of these records were not documented in the original description process.
The order of the records was maintained in 2011.
File numbers supplied by the SAB to differentiate these files from the pre-1930 and post-1930 homestead files have been given "AF" for Administrative Files followed by consecutive file number.
Language of material
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Location of originals
Box number(s): 1-10
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
Records are open for research use.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Use, publication and/or reproduction are subject to Crown Copyright. Please consult reference archivist for assistance.
To consult the records, visit or contact the Regina office.
SAFA 639 (old guide GS 44) consists of a government series description and file listings of textual records.
Related material: The Saskatchewan Homestead Records are available in Regina and Saskatoon offices.
No further accruals are expected.
Location for retrieval: Regina - Henderson
Metal clips and other fasteners were removed. All files have been placed in acid-free folders.
Textual Records: Old guide GS 44 (Ag 11. 2).
Standard number area
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Rules or conventions
Saskatchewan Archives. Archival Description Manual 2004.
Level of detail
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Content of the series.