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Description found in Archives
Series consists of
Place of creation
Scope and content
Series consists of records created and/or maintained in the Office of the Governor of Vancouver Island between 1849 and 1867 and in the Office of the Governor of British Columbia between 1858 and 1872. The series includes: despatches received, Vancouver Island, 1849-1867; despatches sent, Vancouver Island, 1858-1864; despatches received, British Columbia, 1858-1872; despatches sent, British Columbia, 1859-1872; and a calendar and historical essat, 1858-1940. Despatches received from the Colonial Office and copies of despatches sent were filed and preserved in each Governor's office, although customs in recording and filing varied from province to province, and over time. The surviving records exhibit many similarities: chronological sequences, the use of entry books and the preparation of schedules or registers to provide ready access. While many of the surviving series of records from the Governors' offices are incomplete, the practice of recording the text of outgoing despatches in entry books, and of providing reference copies for interested parties, has created certain overlaps between the records preserved by the governors and by the Colonial Office. Taken together, the various series provide a comprehensive record.
Copyright belongs to the Crown.
In order to protect the fragile originals, records in this series have been microfilmed and the originals withdrawn from circulation.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 sub-series descriptions.
The CAB RG 7 Shelf List (see RG 7, G8C section) is a typed volume level description which provides volume titles and inclusive dates and corresponding microfilm reel numbers. CAB RG 7 Shelf List (Paper)
David W. Parker's description of the "G" Series, volumes 335-358, in his Guide to the Documents in the Manuscript Room at the Public Archives of Canada, vol. 1, pages 57-62, provides a volume by volume description of volumes 1-25 of this series. (Paper)
Finding aid MSS690 provides a conversion list for all of Parker's now obsolete "G" Series references. MSS690 (Paper)
Finding aid 7-4 is a volume list relating to volumes 1-27. 7-4 90 (Electronic)
Biography / Administrative history
The first Governor of Vancouver Island was appointed in 1849 and took up his duties in 1850. The colony of British Columbia was jurisdictionally separate but shared Sir James Douglas as Governor from its inception in 1858 until 1864. The island and mainland colonies were united on 19 November 1866 and, as British Columbia, joined Confederation in 1871.
The Governors of each North American colony may be seen to have maintained three levels of communication, which are reflected in the structure of the record-keeping systems in their offices. At the first level were despatches exchanged with the Colonial Office (for which see the description of despatches in the Correspondence with the Colonial Office series, elsewhere within this fonds). At the second level were despatches exchanged with fellow governors and senior officials who might be categorized as colleagues. The entry books demonstrate substantial variations in place and time as to who was considered a colleague. At both levels, the despatches were prepared for the governor's signature (though rarely in his own hand). At the third level were letters addressed to and received from subordinates (for which see the description of the Secretaries' correspondence, in the Civil Secretary's correspondence received sub-series in the Office of the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada series, elsewhere within this fonds). Responsibility for preparing and signing correspondence at this level was delegated to the Private, Civil or Military Secretaries. Great consistency is evident in the segregation of despatches prepared in the Governor's name (first and second levels) from letters prepared at his orders but signed by his Secretaries (third level).
As a representative of the Crown in and for the colonies of North America, each Governor undertook certain responsibilities for external relations and was obliged to maintain a close degree of co-operation with the British Minister at Washington. Filing practices demonstrate that the despatches were considered as communications with colleagues. The same may be said of correspondence with the Commander of the Forces.
Governors and administrators of Vancouver Island between 1850 and 1866 include: Richard Blanshard, Governor, 10 March 1850-1 September 1851; James Douglas, Governor (commission received), 30 October 1851-14 March 1864; Arthur Edward Kennedy, Governor, 26 March 1864-23 October 1866; William A.G. Young, Administrator, 24 October-19 November 1866. Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland were united as a single colony on 19 November 1866.
Governors and administrators of British Columbia between 1858 and 1871 include: James Douglas, Governor, 19 November 1858-20 April 1864; Frederick Seymour, Governor, 21 April 1864; on leave 9 September 1865-10 November 1866, leaving Colonial Secretary Arthur H. Birch as Administrator. Seymour died on board H.M.S. Sparrowhawk at Bella Coola, 10 June 1869. News of his death reached Victoria, on 14 June 1869. Philip J. Hankin, Administrator, 14 June-23 August 1869; Anthony Musgrave, Governor, 23 August 1869; sailed for England, 25 July 1871. RG7 General Inventory
The term letter book has been used generally to describe volumes in which the text of documents was recorded. Entry book is the more correct generic term for such volumes, when all manner of documents are recorded therein; letter book should be reserved for volumes in which only correspondence was recorded.
The index to an entry book can facilitate access to records outside the series in which it is located and to which it immediately relates. Incoming correspondence can be traced and identified through the dates and other clues provided in the replies.
Entry books customarily were prefaced with a table of contents or schedule listing the despatch number and date, the addressee, the subject, and details respecting enclosures. At various times, a separate register or index of despatches received or sent was compiled, but practices varied substantially over time and from province to province.
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