Ontario. Bureau of Archives Alexander Fraser.

Report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario, Volume 1 online

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Province of Ontario




Printed by Order of
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario


Printed and Published by L. K. CAMERON

Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty


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Letter of Transmission 5

Prefatory , .... 7

Scope of the Bureau 8

Plan of Work 9

Locating Material 10

Departmental Archives 12

Reports 80

Selections from Correspondence 31

On the Development of Historical Research 41

History of a Township 48

Index 60



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The Honourable George W. Ross, LL.D., &c..

Premier of Ontario.

Sib, — I have the honour to submit to you the following Preliminary Report in connection
with the recently established Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Alexander Fraser,

Provincial Archivist.
Toronto, 31st December, 1903.

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Ex rebus antiquis eruditio onatur.




The documents appertaining to the history of a country are now classed among its most
valuable possessions. But history has assumed a new meaning with the advance of civiliza-
tion, and, to-day, the Records of Government, once the student's richest mine, share thei r
1 mportance with the ephemeral memorabilia which concern the life of the people. The histor-
ian's point of view has undergone a radical change. A knowledge of the social conditions of a
nation is a first requisite to the study or writing of history ; hence the high value now placed
upon family papers, diaries, account books, etc., which contain the humble records of social and
family life. This change has arisen naturally from the gradual widening of the political suffrage,
and its reaction upon legislation. The laws reflect the public needs, and in order to legislate
wisely and intelligently, the social "atmosphere" and environment, the sequences in social
development, must be known. Hence also the importance of documentary history in which a
traveller's journal may rank with a political despatch ; and the reason why papers from private
sources, municipal, educational, and ecclesiastical reports and documents on the one band, and
State papers on the other, are given a place among public archives. The one is the raw
material for the general historian, the other for the history of public affairs. Legislation is the
expression in legal form of the hopes, ambitions, and necessities of a people. The publi
archives should furnish material to show how political and social exigencies influence the
laws, and how, in turn, the laws affect the common weal.

Kingsford : Looking forward to a time when Canadian Archives would receive further
recognition at the hands of the Government, Kingsford wrote (Arch. pp. 10. 11.):
** It is mere commonplace to point out that every country acts but with ordinary
prudence, and fulfils a simple # duty, when it preserves its archives and the written
materials for its history. So much depends on the fact that history be honestly and
truthfully written. Much of our petsonal liberty of the preeent time comes from
the consideration of the past. We are never so wise as when we profit by the teaching
of experience. Everything to be permanent must be slowly and gradually produced.
Constitutions may be granted, but they can alone obtain strength from time and usage.
They grow to maturity. Hence we require the means of studying their advancement,,
and we best watch the future by knowing perfectly the trials and difficulties of former
days. .... When the sources of original information are accessible
to all, .... inquiry is stimulated by it, . . . and

the historical student who has industry to seek out facts, pushes investigation into the
remotest sources."


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• '' '* -BrY2£nkrV - As' far back as 1882 Douglas Brymner, the late Dominion Archivist, fore-
shadowed the establishment of Provincial Bureaus. In his Report for that year he says:
" The policy of having one general collection of historical documents at the seat of the
Federal Government, and one special to each Province in each Provincial Capital, is
of importance from various points of view. In respect to investigations of a general
nature, all the documents should be together, classified and accessible, so that, at the
least possible expense, those who desire to study the papers relating to the history of
British North America should be able to do so without being compelled to make long
and tedious journeys in search of the information wanted. On the other hand, the
records of each Province, being in the possession of the Provincial Government, are
available for the use of those who only seek to make a special investigation. But
there is another and even more important end to be Berved. The possession of docu-
ments in duplicate is a guarantee, to a large extent, of their preservation from de-
struction by fire. Experience, and not the least that of Canada, shows the risk from
this cause, by which documents have been lost that can never be replaced, and it
seems almost impossible to collect again the printed records of the past history which
have thus been destroyed. By the burning of the House of Assembly at Montreal,
in 1849, the whole collection of printed and manuscript records contained in the
library and departments in the building were swept away. It was only by the greatest
exertions and by appeals to the liberality of those who possessed collections of the
papers that single copies of many of them could be secured for the Parliamentary
Library. The destruction of the public buildings at Fred eric ton, New Brunswick,
of the Custom House and of the Court House at Quebec, are other instances of the
danger to which attention is called. In respect to printed documents the loss is very
jserious, but it need scarcely be pointed out that it is much more so when original
manuscripts are destroyed of which no copy exists."

Scope of the Bureau.

In assuming the duties of my appointment, involving the establishment of a Bureau of
Archives for Ontario, the adage festiiw lente seemed fitting, and the few months which have
elapsed have proved its wisdom. I have been impressed by the wide field, and with the
variety and importance of the interests concerned, and it has been obvious that the foundations
must be broadly laid m order that our civil, political, religious, social, and material history
showing the full progress of our life may be built upon them. Nor must genealogical data be
overlooked, for the history of an individual may have an important bearing upon the events of
a community. Useful suggestions have been found in the systems prevailing in Great Britain
and in most of the States of the Union, as well as in the course pursued by the Governments
of Nova Scotia and Quebec ; but most of all have I been aided by the opinions received from
students of Canadian history whose accomplishments entitle them to be heard with respect.
Selections from their correspondence will be given in this Report at the proper place. The
scheme arrived at is as follows : —

(1) The Bureau is equally related and attached to all ths Government Departments, and

shall receive papers and documents of historical interest, not in cut rent use, from all
branches of the Public Service. When possible these documents shall be classified
and calendared.

The Bureau shall devote attention to :

(2) The copying and printing of important Ontario records lying in the Canadian

Archives at Ottawa, in the State Departments there and elsewhere.

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(3) The collection of documents having, in the widest Fense, a bearing upon the political

or social history of Ontario, and upon its agricultural, industrial, commercial, and
financial development.

(4) The collection of municipal, school, and church records.

(5) The collection and preservation of pamphlets, maps, charts, manuscripts, papers,

regimental muster rolls, etc , bearing on the past or present history of Ontario.

(6) The collection and preservation of facts illustrative of the early settlements of Ontario

- pioneer experience — customs — mode of living — prices — wages — boundaries— areas
cultivated — homes, etc.

(7) The collection and preservation of correspondence — letters from and to settlers, docu-

ments in private hands pertaining to public and social affairs, etc., reports of local
events and historic incidents in the family or public life.

(8) The rescuing from oblivion of the memory of the pioneer settlers, to obtain and pre-

serve narratives of their early exploits, and of the part they took in opening up the
country for occupation.

(9) Co operation with the Historical Societies of Ontario and societies kindred to them,

to help to consolidate and classify their work, and as far as practicable direct local
effort on given lines.

The Plan of Work.

It is proposed to adopt the following plan of work as one on which the various Archives
can be easily classified and catalogued, viz. : To divide the history of Ontario until Confeder-
ation, 1867, into its political periods, arranging the material secured in chronological order, and
giving each period a series of Reports. Thus, the work can be carried on in all the divisions
simultaneously, and when sufficient material shall have accumulated in any one of them, it can
be utilized either by the publication of documents or calendars in the annual reports without
undue delay. From Confederation onward, the larger quantity of material to be dealt with,
and the probable absence of sweeping constitutional changes to mark eras, suggest a
chronological rather than a political basis of division. The periods are : —

(1) 1763 To the close of the French Regime, or the period of French Discovery.
To the Organization of the Province of Upper Canada.
To the Legislative Union of Upper and Lower Canada.
To Confederation.

To the end of the Nineteenth Century.
In each of these Divisions there is much work to be done. Each has its own distinctive
feature, and there is abundance of minor incident*

(1) For the material belonging to the French Regime I beg to direct attention to an

extract from a letter from Lieut. -Col. Ernest Cruikshank on page 36, and to Mr.
Coyne's letter page 33 of this Report. They have dealt with the subject so fully
that I need not refer to it further here, except to add, as an important work, a por-
tion of the ''M&noire pour Messire Francois Bigot," which contains what seems to be
an excellent summary of the commerce and condition of all the Western trading postB
at the time of the Conquest.

(2) In the period between 1763 to 179 L the feature is the Loyalist immigration, with its

accompanying settlement, and the conditions and circumstances influencing the form
of government adopted for Upper Canada.

(3) From the organization of the Province to 1841 . Here we have the real commencement

of our Provincial history, the introduction of constitutional government ; the work of
the Legislature, some of whose early records are lost ; the outbreak of the War of









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1812 ; the progress of settlement, and the development of municipal, educational, and
commercial institutions ; the resliveness leading to the Rising of 1837, and the con-
cessions made to Responsible Government.

(4) The period of Legislative Union. Immigration, settlement, and migration are prominent

events, while the introduction of railways, the improvement of waterways, the settle-
ment of many great political, educational, and ecclesiastical questions, lend to ibis
period unusual importance.

(5) From Confederation onwards the periods suggested are fruitful of documentary his-

tory, but at such short range it is unnecessary to indicate the special events of unusual

The extent and character of the documents thus collected would determine the arrangement
of material for annual publication. Probably a topical grouping would serve best, but there
should be no premature decision arrived at in this important matter.

Locating Material.

In pursuance of this plan, I have made a beginning by familiarizing myself with the
character of the papers, etc., deposited in the several Departments ; with the contents of a few
of the more interesting ; and with the office routine affecting correspondence, accounts, etc.
The result will be found in brief paragraphs relating to the branches of the public service which
I have overtaken, and whose publication here may be useful as indicating to the investigator
where certain documents are to be found.

In order to organize the Province on a comprehensive scale a letter has been addressed to
every Member of the Legislature, containing a request that he nominate one or two
correspondents to co-operate with me in his constituency. The response has been very prompt
a nd encouraging, the nominees almost without exception consenting to act These are now
being asked to name a correspondent for each township, and at the time of writing 117 have
agreed to correspond with the Bureau, transmitting information as to local events, locating
collections of papers, books, etc., of historical value, and keeping the Bureau in direct touch
with their communities. A list of these correspondents when more complete will be published.

Mayors. Reeves, Clerks of Municipalities, Clerks of the Peace, Registrars of Deeds, and
other public officers are being communicated with for statements of records under their care
and for copies of interesting documents where such can be given.

Secretaries of Synods, Dioceses, and Conferences, Clerks of Presbyteries, stated officials of
religious denominations generally, and Public School Inspectors are also being written to for
^formation, returns, and reports of which they are custodians.

National and social societies and public clubs possess information in their papers and
minute books regarding the settlement of their countrymen in early times, and concerning the
objects they Are united in promoting. An effort is being made to utilize this source for the
benefit of the public.

Interest in local history has been manifested by some of the" " Old Boys'" Associations
which have multiplied in recent years. It is important that their efforts should follow a definite
plan ; and the papers and surveys obtained from the Durham Association through the
kindness of Professor Squair, and published in this report, furnish a Model which may profit-
ably be adopted for similar work by kindred associations.

The importance of the early collecting of data concerning the business development of the
Province has been urged by several correspondents, and in consequence of the representations
made to me I have begun a collection of papers, maps, pamphlets, reports, surveys, etc, in
connection with the promotion and construction of railways and canals in Ontario, and the
hearty co-operation promised by those with whom I am in communication shows a keen interest

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n this line of rosearch. In the same way a beginning has been made of a collection of material
r especting electric railways and the development of electric power in Ontario. fJteps have also
been taken for the gathering together of facts regarding the Industrial— including the interests
of capital and labour — the Commercial and the Financial institutions of the Province and
rendering them accessible to the student of economics.

It is known that the minute books, reports, and papers of the Quarter Sessions of the Peace
are rich in local history and besides contain much that illustrates the operation of the general
law. But it is known that many of these interesting books and papers have been lost or are in
private hands, so that few districts have complete collections of them, At the suggestion of the
Honourable Mr. Justice Garrow, Osgoode Hall, I have begun an enquiry in order to obtain
fuller information on this subject than we now possess ; and if possible to trace and collect
whatever may be available.

The foregoing has entailed a heavy correspondence, but it is satisfactory to be able to
report that not in a single case has a letter been denied full consideration, while almost every
person addressed has responded most cordially and has indicated considerable interest in these

Arrangements have been made whereby a large number of newspapers will be received
regularly, and local biography and history clipped from them and systematically filed.

At Confederation the policy pursued, in assigning the public documents to the Dominion
and to the Provinces, was to entrust as few as possible to the Provinces and to retain as many
as possible for the Dominion. Consequently there are large collections of Provincial docu"
ments lying in the Secretary of State's Department and other offices at Ottawa, copies
of which we should at least possess, failing possession of the originals. I am in corre- •
spondence concerning these with the view of obtaining more information than we now possess
as to their extent and character.

I have also given some attention to the completion of a list of the documents touching
Ontario to be found in the annual calendars of the Canadian Archives, by Dr. Bry inner,
respecting the period of the French Regime, copies of which it is intended to procure for an
early report.

A collection of the reports of the Departments and Public Institutions is being completed ;
the nucleus of what I hope will be a valuable collection of old and new maps of Ontario has
been formed ; and friends have kindly contributed copies of pamphlets, interesting photo-
graphs of persons and places, and original papers of value ; but the formal listing and acknow-
ledgment of these must remain until next year's report, when the number will no doubt
justify the publication of a calendar.

Steps have been taken to provide for the safe custody of all material deposited in the
Bureau of Archives, and the public are assured that papers, books, or other historical material
which are valued for personal or family reasons, will, at least, be preserved from destruction by
fire, and will be rendered useful historically if transferred to the trusteeship of this Bureau.

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Offices in Which Archives Originate.

The Clerk ok the House :

The Clerk of the House has charge, —

(1) Of the Scroll of Parliament, the documents known by that title being the notes and

memoranda made by the Clerk of the routine proceedings of the House during its

(2) The original signatures of the members of the Legkktive Assembly subscribed to the

Oath of Allegiance when " sworn in" as members of the Assembly. The signatures
are written on parchment.

(3) Copies of the Statutes in the form in which they have tyeen assented to and signed by

His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor. These copies are printed on good paper, and
after having been assented to become the originals of the Statutes in force.

(4) The original copy pertaining to the Consolidated Statutes.
The Clerk of Records :

The Clerk of Records receives and fyles away, —

(1) The manuscript of all Sessional Papers not printed. (\ Sessional Paper is a return

called for by order of the House, whether printed or not ; and the Reports of Depait-
ments And all branches of the public service presented to the House.)

(2) The originals of all Petitions presented to the House (these are not printed).

(3) The originals of Bills in the form in which they are presented to the House ; and

copies of Bills as amended during their passage through the House.
The original copy of Sessional Papers which are printed is returned with the proof sheets
to the Department or officer issuing the same.


In the Legislative Library there are records, printed or typewritten, of the
proceedings of the Legislatures of Upper Cffntda, Lower Canada, Province of Canada,
Dominion of Canada, and the Proviaces thereof, fr »m the institution of each of those
bodies to its dissolution, or to the present time — except for the years between 1793
and 1798, and for the years 1813 and 1815— which, so far as is known, are not in

There is also a set of the Official Gazettes except for the years between 1809
and 1822, and for the year 1825.

Also Proclamations of Lower Canada, 1792 to 1836 ; documents relating to the
Seignorial Tenure ; jugements et deliberations du Conseil Souverain de la Nouvelle
France. 6 Vols. ; fidits et Ordonnances du Conseil d'fitat du Roy concernant le

There are no manuscripts in the Library.


Provision for an Executive Council for Ontario is made by B. N. A. Act, Section
(J3 (See as to Ontario Revised Statutes Ontario 1897, Cap. 14.)

The Prime Minister is the head or Chairman of the Executive Council, and, as
such, presides at the meetings thereof. The Premier and two members form a
quorum of Council. During the absence of the Premier or Acting Premier, four

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Online LibraryOntario. Bureau of Archives Alexander FraserReport of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario, Volume 1 → online text (page 1 of 10)