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Description found in Archives

Ordnance, Admiralty and Railway Lands Branch [textual record, cartographic material]. 

Series consists of



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

14.47 m of textual records
89 maps.

Scope and content

Series consists of records created and maintained by the Ordnance and Admiralty Lands Branch and its successor the Ordnance, Admiralty and Railway Lands Branch . This series includes British Ordnance Officer's records; correspondence, schedules of Ordnance lands, various accounts, ledgers, registers and certificates, seed grain records, survey field notes, a list of maps and plans, and a report on Ordnance Lands in British Columbia. Also included in this series are records relating to the following: the Bank of Upper Canada Estate, the Railway Belt and Peace River Block, the Saskatchewan and Alberta Resources Commissions, the transfer of natural resources to the Western Provinces. RG15M 77803-37 consists of maps relating to the report on ordnance lands in British Columbia. Accession consists of three series of maps: Series A (items 1-5) consists of a coal mining map for southern Saskatchewan, 1921, and a coal mining map in two sheets for Alberta, 1924; along with two world atlases. Series B (items 6-35) consists of maps published by the Dept of Lands, B.C., 1912-23. Series C (items 36-78) consists of maps extracted from a portfolio entitled "Volume 2, Reference maps, Ordnance & Admiralty Lands, Report 1939". The volume is stamped "Lands Parks & Forests Branch, Ordnance Index 1361 A6". The volume pertains to parcels of land in British Columbia numbered from 1 to [172] that are marked on 39 sheets and colour coded as follows: blue for lands alienated by B.C.; red for lands remaining under the administration of the crown, either Dominion or Provincial; brown for lands within Indian reserves; green for lands set aside for timber purposes. To access these sheets there are four index maps for different parts of British Columbia.

Textual records
90: Open
Cartographic material
Microfiche NMC172050
90: Open
Cartographic material
90NA: Open but not available
from 2000120090 to 2000120092 Item no. assigned by LAC 62 -- 78
Item no. assigned by LAC 47 -- 61
Item no. assigned by LAC 36 -- 46
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown.

Cartographic material Finding aid consists of an itemized list. Finding aid available in main reference room. RG15M 77803/37 90 (Paper)

Cartographic material Please consult lower level descriptions. RG15M 77803/37 90 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

The Ordnance and Admiralty Lands Branch administered the extensive tracts of military lands ceded to the federal government by the colonies in British North America (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario) at Confederation. These lands were originally acquired from Britain by the colonial governments in 1856 to help defray the cost of maintaining a military, an expense which had been previously paid by the British government. The colonies, in turn, passed these lands along to the newly created Dominion government in 1867. The Dominion was required to manage the lands for public benefit.

Under the authority of the Ordnance and Admiralty Lands Act (40 Vic., c. 8, 1877), Ordnance and Admiralty Lands were divided into class one (lands which were to be retained by the government of Canada for defence purposes) and class two (lands which were no longer required for the defence of the country. Under section 5.2, lands required for the use of the Department of Militia and Defence (ie. class one lands) may be occupied or leased by that Department in times of peace, and lands no longer required for national defence (ie. class two lands) "may be sold, leased or otherwise used as the Governor in Council from time to time may think meet". In all cases, land sales were to be made by public auction.

The Branch was responsible for maintaining the original Deeds of Title relating to Ordnance Lands, as well as all correspondence, appraisals, "registration of assignments and other documents affecting the transfer of land, the preparation and issue of leases and Letters Patent, and the recording and filing of all plans relative to these lands and other necessary details" (Voorhis 1927: 31).

With the decrease in administrative duties as a result of the sale of Ordnance Lands, the Branch gradually assumed other administrative tasks on behalf of the Department. In 1906 it began the rather onerous task of compiling, recording, copying, indexing, printing, and distributing, on an annual basis, all Orders-in-Council affecting the day-to-day operation of the Department. And in 1908 the Branch began keeping the records of attendance holiday, illness, and special leave on departmental personnel as required in accordance with the Civil Service Amendment Act that was passed that year.

In 1922 the Branch also began assuming responsibility for Railway Lands. This function mainly consisted of auditing the land accounts of the different railway companies that received western land subsidies from the Crown. Also included within railway land grants were areas that had been set aside as railway subsidy lands, railway station grounds, railway Town sites, bridge sites, and government Town sites. This function had been previously administered by the Natural Resources Intelligence Branch. As a result of this move, the branch was renamed the Ordnance, Admiralty and Railway Lands Branch (P.C. 1456, 15 January, 1923). R190-79-9-E).

By the early spring of 1929, the Department of the Interior completed a major re-organization of all the various branches dealing with Dominion Lands. Under the new organization, the administration of Dominion lands generally (which was formerly carried on through the Dominion Lands Branch; Lands Patent Branch; Schools Lands Branch; Ordnance, Admiralty, and Railway Lands Branch; Timber and Grazing Lands Branch; Mining Lands Branch) was now under the direct control of the Commissioner of Dominion Lands (Canada. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Department of the Interior for the Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 1929, Ottawa, 1929, pg. 36). As a result of the reorganization, all the former branches were downgraded to the status of divisions under the umbrella of the Dominion Lands Branch. As part of the re-organization of the Department's Dominion Lands administration, the work of the Ordnance, Admiralty, and Railway Lands Branch was given some new tasks from the Dominion Lands Branch and the division was renamed the Ordnance, Admiralty and Public Lands Division. "The Work of the new division.... now includes, in addition to ordnance and admiralty lands, administration of Dominion lands required by railways for various purposes; lands for fur farming; fractional and accrued areas; roadways and rights of way; sites for schools, churches and a variety of other purposes; Town sites and settlements; escheat lands and other public lands" (Canada. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Department of the Interior for the Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 1928, Ottawa, 1929, pg. 12).

With the signing of the natural resources agreements with the western provinces in 1930, most of the lands administered by the Division were placed under provincial authority, with the exception of what was left of the original ordnance and admiralty properties which had been acquired by the Crown from the British government. When the Department of the Interior was disbanded in 1936, responsibility for the administration of these lands was transferred to the newly created Department of Mines and Resources. The administration of ordnance lands was placed in the Department's Lands Registry Division, a newly created unit in the Lands, Parks and Forest Branch. RG15 General Inventory

Additional information

Custodial history
RG15M 77803/37 transferred from Government Archives Division, RG15, accession 76-7-82 in Oct. 1977.

Source of title
Title is based on the contents of the series.

No further accruals are expected.

Cartographic math data
RG15M 77803/37: Scales differ.

Subject heading


Related control no.

1. 77803/37 CA
2. RG15M 77803/37