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Description found in Archives

Office of the Governor of Quebec and Lower Canada [textual record]. 

Series consists of

Date(s)

1787-1841

Place of creation

Canada

1.62 m of textual records

Scope and content

Series consists of records created and/or maintained by the Office of the Governor in Quebec and Lower Canada. The records in this series are the records of the office of the Governor in Quebec, regardless of whether he held the position of Governor-in-Chief, Lieutenant Governor, or Administrator. The series includes Governor's internal letter books, 1787-1839; Civil Secretary's letter books, 1790-1829; and letter books of letters sent to Crown law officers by the Civil Secretary to the Governor at Quebec, 1833-1841.

Textual records
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

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In order to protect the fragile originals, records in this series have been microfilmed and the originals withdrawn from circulation.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 and sub-sub-series descriptions.

Finding aids that relate to the contents of specific sub-series and sub-sub-series are described in the entries for those lower levels. See also the finding aids cited in the fonds-level description. Although they were prepared many years ago according to an arrangement schema which has been superseded, those finding aids continue to have descriptive value for records in this series. (Paper)

Biography / Administrative history

From 1786 until Confederation, the Governor-in-Chief of Quebec or Lower Canada held Commissions authorizing him to administer the other provinces of British North America, but in fact the Lieutenant Governors appointed to administer those provinces exercised the office of governor and fulfilled the Royal Instructions for their respective jurisdictions. While Lord Durham and his successors held Commissions as Governor General of the provinces of British North America, they operated under their Commissions as Governor-in-Chief of Lower Canada or Canada.

The Governor or Lieutenant Governor of each colony in British North America 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 British North America, each Governor or Lieutenant 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, lieutenant-governors and administrators of Quebec between 1764 and 1791 include: James Murray, Governor, 13 August 1764; left the province 28 June 1766. Paulus Aemilius Irving, Administrator, 30 June-24 September 1766. Sir Guy Carleton, Lieutenant-Governor, 24 September 1766; Governor, 26 October 1768; sailed for England on leave 1 August 1770. Hector T. Cramahé, Administrator, 9 August 1770-18 September 1774; became Lieutenant-Governor, 26 September 1771. Sir Guy Carleton, returned to Quebec, 18 September 1774; end of term 27 June 1778. Frederick Haldimand, Governor, 27 June 1778; sailed for England on leave, 16 November 1784, and did not return. Henry Hamilton, Lieutenant-Governor, Administrator, 16 November 1784-2 November 1735; Henry Hope, Lieutenant-Governor, Administrator, 2 November 1785 -23 October 1786; Lord Dorchester (formerly Sir Guy Carleton), Governor, 23 October 1786; sailed for England on leave 18 August 1791. Sir Alured Clarke, Lieutenant-Governor, Administrator, 25 August-24 December 1791.

Governors, lieutenant-governors and administrators of Lower Canada between 1791 and 1841 include: Sir Alured Clarke, Lieutenant-Governor, Administrator, 25 December 1791-1 October 1793; Lord Dorchester, Governor, resumed office, 2 October 1793; sailed for England, 9 July 1796. Robert Prescott, Lieutenant-Governor, Administrator, 12 July 1796-26 April 1797; Governor, 27 April 1797; left for England, 29 July 1799. Sir Robert Shore Milnes, Lieutenant-Governor, Administrator, 30 July 1799-5 August 1805; Thomas Dunn, Administrator, 12 August 1805-24 October 1807; Sir James Henry Craig, Governor, 24 October 1807; sailed for England, 19 June 1811. Thomas Dunn, Administrator, 19 June-14 September 1811; Sir George Prevost, Administrator, 14 September 1811; Governor, 15 July 1812; left Quebec for England, 3 April 1815. Because of the war Prevost had been obliged from time to time to take command of the troops in Upper Canada. The Administrators during these temporary absences were Baron Francis de Rottenburg, 20 February-16 March 1813; 12 May-14 June 1813; George Glasgow, 14 June-25 September 1813; Baron Francis de Rottenburg, 11 October-30 November 1814. Sir George Drummond, Administrator, 4 April 1815; sailed for England, 21 May 1816. John Wilson, Administrator, 21 May-12 July 1816; Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, Governor, 12 July 1816-30 July 1818; Duke of Richmond, Governor, 30 July 1818; died 28 August 1819; James Monk, Administrator, 20 September 1819-17 March 1820; Sir Peregrine Maitland, Administrator, 17 March-19 June 1820; Lord Dalhousie, Governor, 19 June 1820; sailed for England on leave 6 June 1824. Sir Francis Burton, Lieutenant-Governor, Administrator, 7 June 1824-16 September 1825; Lord Dalhousie resumed office, 17 September 1825; sailed for England, 8 September 1928. Sir James Kempt, Administrator, 8 September 1828 - 20 October 1830; Lord Aylmer, Administrator, 20 October 1830; Governor, 4 February 1831; recalled 24 August 1835. Lord Gosford, Governor and Commissioner, 24 August 1835; relieved 27 February 1838. Sir John Colborne, Administrator, 27 February - 29 May 1838. Lord Durham, Governor, 29 May 1838; resigned and left Quebec, 1 November 1838. Sir John Colborne, Administrator, 1 November 1838; Governor, 17 January - 19 October 1839. Charles Poulett Thompson (became Lord Sydenham in 1840), Governor, 19 October 1839 - 10 February 1841. During this period he paid a short visit to Upper Canada, 18 November 1839 - 19 February 1840, and a visit to New Brunswick, 8 July - 31 July 1840. The Administrator in each case was Sir Richard Downes Jackson. RG7 General Inventory

Additional information

Custodial and reference questions related to these records should be directed to the Canadian Archives Branch (CAB).

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.

Accruals
No further accruals are expected.

Availability of other formats note
Records in this series are available on microfilm. Microfilming was completed in 1952. Further details are provided in the relevant sub-series and sub-sub-series descriptions.

Government