Archives Search

Search only: Library, Archives Advanced Search, Ancestors, Images, Search All

To submit a comment, contact

Search Help

Description found in Archives

Civil Secretary's correspondence. Quebec, Lower Canada and Canada East [textual record, philatelic record]. 



Place of creation

Québec (Province)

39.26 m of textual records.
3867 postal covers.

Scope and content

The principal series of letters, petitions, addresses and other communications received by the Civil Secretary's office is known as the "S Series" (series A 1). Interfiled with that correspondence are documents created or accumulated by the Clerk to the Executive Council, an office held in plurality by the Secretary throughout much of the period 1764-1841. Several blocks of Executive Council records have been segregated (as series RG 4 B 13 and B 43). Other material on special topics, apparently accumulated by the Secretary, has also been segregated (as series RG 4 B 44, B 46, B 48, B 49 and B 76). The rationale for segregation of this material is unclear, particularly as other material on those topics remains in the primary series of incoming correspondence. Surviving drafts or copies of replies to incoming correspondence form series RG 4 A 2, and a specialized letterbook forms series RG 4 A 4. Two types of registers recording the reception and referral of correspondence are found in series RG 4 A 3; they illustrate the volume and variety of business handled, and can be used to determine the extent to which the records have survived, in RG 4 or elsewhere. The fonds also consists of 3867 postal covers covering the period from 1759 to 1846 which were in most cases mailed from villages in Lower Canada. There are major examples of postmarks used in Lower Canada for the period 1763 to 1841.

Textual records
90: Open
Series which have been microfilmed are n
ow withdrawn from circulation as a protective conservation measure. Researchers must use the microfilm for consultation and for reproduction purposes. Only photographic copies can be made of the documents written on parchment.
Philatelic records
90: Open
Series which have been microfilmed are n
ow withdrawn from circulation as a protective conservation measure. Researchers must use the microfilm for consultation and for reproduction purposes. Only photographic copies can be made of the documents written on parchment.
Textual records
90: Open
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Textual records The shelf lists in the Guide for RG 4 identify the reel numbers for the volumes which have been microfilmed and provide descriptive detail to the volume level for all the records. 90 (Paper)

Textual records While there is no comprehensive index of incoming correspondence to serve series A 1, surviving elements of the Civil Secretary's own record-keeping systems can be used to locate and interpret the documents he created or accumulated. Foremost amongst these are the registers in series A 3 and the Civil Secretary's letterbooks (RG 4, C 2 and RG 7, G 15C). 90 (Paper)

Textual records The registers in series RG 4 A 3 have limited uses, as they were created principally as a record of incoming documents referred to other offices for an opinion or decision. For those select documents, the registers identify the dates of referral and return, and the nature of any subsequent action taken. The letterbooks (RG 4, C 2 and RG 7, G 15 C) are more comprehensive, as customarily all incoming petitions and letters would have been acknowledged, and the text of those replies recorded in the letterbooks. The index or table of contents for each letterbook identifies persons to whom replies were sent; the texts of the replies identify the date, subject and nature of the incoming document. Those clues narrow the potential range of search for documents in RG 4, A 1 and related series. 90 (Paper)

Textual records The finding aid lists the records of the Commission of inquiry into the Red River Disturbances, 1815-1821, segregated as series RG 4 B 46. It does not provide any identification of the closely related records in series A 1. Reintegration of the records into the primary series will necessitate rewriting of the finding aid. MSS0568 90 (Electronic)

Textual records The finding aid, a list of the petitions in series B 70, will be eliminated when the reintegration of those records with series C 1 is completed. MSS0918 90 (Electronic)

Textual records The finding aid provides a descriptive listing of the documents transcribed in Andrew Stuart's report on the Saguenay Country (series B 76). It will be revised when that material is reintegrated with series A 1. MSS0935 90 (Electronic)

Philatelic records The finding aid describing the postal covers is available at the series level. CPA-264 90 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

The pre-eminent responsibility of the Civil or private Secretary to the Governor was management of correspondence: ensuring that it was duly acknowledged, referred onward or filed. Closely related were the duties of receiving and acknowledging Addresses, petitions, memorials and applications for appointments to public offices; transmitting Messages and public documents to the Legislature; and referring petitions to the appropriate public offices for opinion or advice prior to submission to the Executive Council. The responsibilities of the Civil Secretary for general correspondence were transferred to the Provincial Secretary and Registrar after the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841. This shift reflected the on-going transition of power away from the Governor as responsible government evolved.

In managing communications for the Governor, the Civil Secretary maintained a distinction between the correspondence to which replies were made in the governor's name and that to which the Secretary responded on his behalf. Despatches to colleagues and letters to senior officials were signed by the Governor. Letters to individuals were written on the governor's behalf by the Secretary. The governor's despatches are found in RG 7; the Civil Secretary's correspondence is divided between RG 7 and RG 4. As a result of the transmission of files from one office to another for action or advice, documents relating to a case may be found with the Secretaries' correspondence (RG 4, A 1 or C 1), with submissions to the Executive Council (see RG 1) or with records retained in the governor's office (see RG 7, notably series G 14, G 18 and G 20).

Additional information

Many series contain records antedating the office in which they were accumulated, particularly supporting documents in case files. Some documents of later date are also found incorporated into certain series. Note that the extent of these series is subject to change, as a result of reorganization which transfers records into or out of them.

Availability of other formats note
Volumes 1-131 of series A 1 were microfilmed in 1967-1968; and are available on reels C-2994 to C-3014, C-3032 to C-3035, C-3117 to C-3118, and C-3194 to C-3200. the remainder of the series has been prepared for microfilming. Series B 43 was microfilmed in 1965 on reel C-2228.


Other system control no.