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Description found in Archives

National Development Bureau [textual record, cartographic material]. 

Series consists of



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

0.05 m of textual records
11 maps 8 mss., ink on tracing linen, 2 hand col. 62 x 111 cm or smaller.
8 diagrams mss., ink on tracing linen 61 x 57 cm or smaller.

Scope and content

Series consists of staff lists and records relating to territorial acquisitions of Canada and farm equipment. These records were created and/or maintained by the National Development Bureau and its predecessors. Cartographic material consists of: (a) RG92M 90132 - maps and diagrams compiled or collected by the Chief Geographer of the National Resources Intelligence Service, J.E. Chalifour, dealing with the population growth across Canada and showing population and immigration trends in Canada and the United States. The National Resources Intelligence Service is the predecessor of the National Development Bureau.; (b) RG15M 77803-13 - map of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta showing the number of quarter sections available for homestead entry in each township, dated 1920 - compiled by the Natural Resources Intelligence Branch.

Textual records
90: Open
Cartographic material
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.
Former BAN no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown.

Cartographic material Finding aids consists of an item listing. Available in main reference room. RG92M 90132; RG15M 77803-13 (item #19) 90 (Paper)

Cartographic material RG92M 90132 90 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

The Railways and Swamp Lands Branch was created in 1904 as a result of a growing need for more efficient methods for transferring title to railway land grants and Manitoba swamp lands. Because of the administrative backlog that had been created in alienating these lands from the Crown, the Department of the Interior was finding itself under increasing public criticism to implement a more effective administrative process. In order to deal with the problem, the department created the Railway and Swamp Lands Branch on the assumption that a separate administrative unit, dedicated to researching title to the lands requested by the railways and the province of Manitoba, would be able to expedite the transfer of title much more quickly than what had occurred previously (Canada. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Department of the Interior, 1903-1904, Ottawa, 1905, pg. x). Robert Evens Young, a Dominion Land Surveyor, was named the first Superintendent of the Branch (P.C. 77/331, 23 February 1904).

Under Young's guidance, the Railway and Swamp Lands grew exponentially. In 1908, he established a separate division for the regulation of water power, and in 1910, his Branch acquired the Chief Geographer's Office (P.C. 18/751, 19 April, 1910), and the British Columbia Lands and Townsite Division (P.C. 1130, 1910). However, on Young's death in 1911, the Railways and Swamp Land Branch was reorganized and all three divisions returned to independent branch status (the Chief Geographer's Branch and Mr. Chalifour's promotion as Chief Geographer were authorized by P.C. 17/2782, 6 December, 1911; J.B. Challies' promotion to Superintendent in charge of the new Water Power Branch was established under P.C. 47/2885, 11 December 1911; The British Columbia Lands Branch with S. Maber as Superintendent was established under P.C. 1342, 22 May, 1912). Young's former assistant Francis C. C. Lynch was named his successor as the Superintendent of the Railways and Swamp Lands Branch.

A year after Lynch's appointment, the province of Manitoba returned all unsold swamp lands to the federal government. In return for this transfer, Manitoba was put on a more equal footing to the other prairie provinces. Its northern boundary was extended to the sixtieth parallel which had been the northern boundary for Alberta and Saskatchewan since 1905 and it was invited to share in other forms of land subsidies.

As a result of these changes, the Branch was not dissolved but instead was given an new lease on life. The department allowed it to expand into other, much needed areas of resource administration, in particular it began acting as a central agency for collecting and distributing information on Canada's natural resources, and for promoting industrial development, especially the developing tourist industry. By 1917 its tasks had expanded to a "...technical nature, comprising chiefly the investigation, classification and centralization of information pertaining to natural resources (administered by the Department of the Interior), the compilation, publication and distribution of economic maps and reports (i.e. homestead, cereal, bank elevator, land maps, etc.), the administration of railway lands and Town sites, certain technical services to other branches and services to the public, with reference to exploitation and the demand for general and departmental information (P.C. 1084, 1917)."

In order to reflect this new role, the Branch was renamed the Natural Resources Intelligence Branch (ibid). The Branch met its new responsibility by collecting data on Canada's geography, by maintaining a Canadian Natural Resources and Industries Inventory, and by engaging in scientific investigations. The latter were intended to provide a wider knowledge of Canada's natural resource base and its potential for industrial use. The Bureau either undertook many investigations itself, or encouraged universities and private industry in such ventures.

Although the Branch distributed its information through a variety of media -- reports, charts, and brochures -- it was particularly well known for its thematic maps. The Branch first began this type of mapping in 1924, just after the Chief Geographer's Office was, once again, placed under its mandate (P.C. 1978, 1922). By transferring responsibility for railway lands to the Ordnance and Admiralty Lands Branch in 1923 (as a result of this change the Branch was renamed the Ordnance, Admiralty and Railways Lands Branch, P.C. 47, 1923), the Natural Resource Intelligence Branch was now able to focus most of its energy on the production and distribution of promotional literature in all forms. Many of the publications that the Branch sent overseas were also to encourage immigration and were produced at the request of the Department of Immigration and Colonization. In many respects the production of such literature was merely a continuation of the role played by the Dept. of the Interior in immigration advertising when the Immigration Branch still fell under its mandate.

With the growing realization that thematic maps were ideal for summarizing information on Canada's geography, the scope of thematic mapping increased considerably within the Branch. Of particular importance were the series of homestead maps showing lands disposed in the western provinces. The Branch also published two series maps at the one-inch-to-four-miles and one-inch-to-eight-miles scales.

Among its more popular maps were those showing electoral districts, railways, trade routes of the world, the vegetation and forest cover of Canada, roads, and recreational resources. The Branch's tourist maps were particularly successful in helping to promote Canada's natural wonders and encouraging Americans to venture across the border. Their highway maps were quite innovative in that they were among the first that were designed to meet the needs of tourists, particularly American tourists. For example, they showed the main connecting highways between the two countries, hotel accommodation, camp sites, game and fish resources, and other information of general interest. Under the mandate of the Branch, the thematic mapping of Canada expanded considerably in scope and became an important medium for summarizing socio-economic data collected by the department.

Although the Branch clearly emphasized factual reporting, much of the literature it produced was obviously intended to benefit Canada's private sector. For the most part, its literature was designed to promote an interest in Canada's investment possibilities, business opportunities, and recreational attractions.

In order to reflect more accurately its role in the promotion of Canadian resources, the name of the Branch was changed again in 1923 to the National Resources Intelligence Service. Depressed economic conditions in 1930, however, forced a curtailment of the agency's services. Both its budget and man-power were cut back, forcing an adjustment in its work. It was also renamed once again as the National Development Bureau (sometimes called Board).

With the demise of the Department of the Interior as a result of the transfer of natural resource administration to the western provinces almost a certainty, the Bureau was disbanded in June 1933, and all of its duties were transferred to other agencies which were operating similar programs both within the Department and outside of the Department. For example, the Chief Geographer's Office and the Technical Plant were placed under Interior's main mapping agency, the Topographical and Air Survey Bureau. As well, the National Development Bureau's duties in regard to resource description, analysis, and promotion were transferred to the Department of Mines and to the Department of Trade and Commerce. The Bureau's activities in the promotion of tourism, on the other hand, was transferred to National Parks where it became the Tourist Division (Canada. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Department of the Interior for the Year Ended March 31, 1934, Ottawa, 1934, pg. 90).

The latter continued to act as the federal government's central office for the promotion of tourism in Canada; however, specialty mapping in support of tourism was now to be handled by the Topographical and Air Survey Bureau. Although much of the Tourist Division's work was connected in one form or another with National Parks, the Division attempted to spread its activities across much of southern Canada. The federal government was clearly aware of the importance of tourism to the Canadian economy, and the Division made every effort to encourage the industry, especially with American tourists. Although tourist promotion was retained as a distinctive entity from the National Parks' Publicity Division, the activity remained with National Parks for only a few months. In February 1935 the Tourist Division was subsumed by the Canadian Travel Bureau of the Department of Railways and Canals (Canada. Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Department of the Interior for the Year Ended March 31, 1935, Ottawa, 1935, pg. 103). RG15 General Inventory

Additional information

Custodial history
With regards to the cartographic material: Provenance and transfer date of RG92M 90132 are uncertain. RG15M 77803-13 transferred from the Public Records Division in 1977.

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

No further accruals are expected.

Statement of responsibility note
Many of the maps bear the statement: prepared by the Natural Resource Intelligence Service, Dept. of the Interior.

Dates of creation note
Cartographic material: Dates of creation taken from the dates of existence of the office of Chief Geographer.


Related control no.

1. 11-0599-00
2. 77803/13 CA
3. 90132 CA
4. 118-040192-1
5. 2011-00371-7
6. RG15
7. RG15M 77803/13
8. RG92M 90132