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Description found in Archives

Land minute books of the Executive Council [textual record]. 

Series consists of

Date(s)

1787-1841

Place of creation

Ontario

1.991 m of textual records.

Scope and content

Series consists of minute books which record the deliberations and decisions of the Executive Council, sitting as a land committee, concerning land business during the period 1787-1841. These records are commonly known as the "Land Books". The sequence of entries within the volumes is chronological, such that a report appears according to the date of its presentation, rather than by its date of preparation. In the later volumes, the practice of inscribing the meeting date at the head of each page makes this more obvious. A table of contents and a nominal index of petitioners is generally found within each individual minute book, although these indexes have been superseded by finding aid MSS1802 (described elsewhere within this entry). With the creation of the Province of Upper Canada in 1791, there was an immediate need for a record of the administration of those lands in the new colony which were formerly situated within the boundaries of the now-defunct Province of Quebec. Relevant minutes for the years 1787-1791 were copied from the Quebec Land Books for reference purposes and deposited with the Clerk of the Executive Council of Upper Canada. These extract minutes now constitute the volume titled "Quebec Land Book" in the present series (vol. 18). During the years 1792-1796, the land and state minutes of the Executive Council of Upper Canada were entered in a single minute book (which has been shelved in the present series as vol.19). Thereafter, two sets of minute books were maintained to record separately the deliberations and decisions of the Executive Council concerning its land and its state business. The evidence shows that the Executive Council did not necessarily hold separate meetings for its land and state work. Rather, on those days on which the Council met to address both state and land matters, two separate agendas were presented and the proceedings and decisions were then recorded in the different minute books. However, given the volume of petitions and other land business to be transacted (particularly after the demise of the District Land Boards in 1794), there were many instances in which the Executive Council met solely in its capacity as a land committee in order to discuss and decide matters of land disposition. The decision on a specific petition was frequently inscribed as an endorsement on it. When the decision was extracted from the minutes to serve as authorization for subsequent action, it took the form of an order-in-council. On those occasions when the Lieutenant Governor (or Administrator as the case may be) attended such meetings, decisions took the form of orders. In the absence of the Lieutenant Governor, decisions were rendered as "recommendations" only, subject to subsequent confirmation by the Lieutenant Governor. By 1815 this latter scenario was the much more common with the Lieutenant Governor rarely in attendance for the detailed discussions of individual land grants. As the system evolved, specific days of the week came to be reserved for land business, although meetings were also held as required in response to references from the Lieutenant Governor on land matters. The line of distinction between "land" and "state" issues was not always clearly maintained in the two sets of minutes. Matters relating to particular land grants, leases and associated topics were documented in the land minute books. Land-related issues of a broad or policy nature, on the other hand, were generally considered to be "state" matters and are found documented in the state minute books. As a result, one finds records of land-granting policy, of the acquisition and distribution of Indian lands, of military reserves (Ordnance lands transferred to civil control), and similar topics documented in the state minute books.

Textual records
Microfilm reel C-104
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Volume
from 18 to 39
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Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

In order to protect the fragile originals, the 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.

Textual records The CAB RG 1 Shelf List (see RG 1, L1 section) is a typed volume-level description which provides volume titles and inclusive dates and corresponding microfilm reel numbers. The Shelf List also correlates the current volume number (assigned by the National Archives) to the letter designation (A, B, C, ... U) assigned to each volume by the records creators. CAB RG 1 Shelf List 90 (Paper)

Textual records Finding Aid MSS1802, an alphabetically-arranged card index by name of petitioner, commonly called the Upper Canada Land Index, provides nominal access to both the Land Books in this series and the land petitions in the Land Submissions to the Executive Council series (found elsewhere within this fonds). Petitions on behalf of groups were indexed, but not necessarily under modern headings. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records The index cards which make up Finding Aid MSS1802 have been microfilmed on reels C-10810 to C-10836 and H-1976 to H-1978. CAB RG 1 Shelf List (see RG 1, L3 section) includes a microfilm shelf list for these reels. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records This shelf list indicates the range of petitioner names appearing on each reel (e.g., reel C-10810: from Aaron (Mohawk Chief) to Baker, G. W.). When using the microfilm of the index, researchers should search under possible variant spellings of a surname, and watch for inconsistencies in the filing order of the cards. As the card index identifies the page reference for a Land Book or the alpha-numeric reference for a petition, copies of the CAB RG 1 Shelf Lists (L1 and L3 sections) were included as a preface to each reel when the index was microfilmed so that users may identify the corresponding microfilm reel numbers for the petitions. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Textual records In that Finding Aid MSS1802 serves two series in this fonds, additional comments on its use will be found in the descriptive entry for the Land Submissions to the Executive Council series. Included there are comments about the correlation of Land Book and petition references, which are useful in those situations where the index provides only a Land Book entry or a petition reference, but not both. Finally, users should note that this finding aid also serves both the Land Books and land petitions for the Province of Canada, 1841-1867, records not found in this fonds but, rather, in the Records of the Executive Council Office of the Province of Canada fonds. MSS1802 90 (Paper)

Additional information

Related materials
The land granting process was complex and involved many officials. Records relating to land are found in other fonds in Library and Archives Canada. For example, matters of policy are the focus of land-related records found in the Office of the Governor General of Canada fonds (R-178, formerly RG7). Matters of practice relating to individual cases are the focus of land-related records found in RG 5 (Records of the Civil and Provincial Secretaries, Upper Canada and Canada West). Operational records of the Surveyor General and other officials, on the other hand, are found in the provincial archives of Ontario. Duplicates of minutes were prepared at various times by the Clerk of the Executive Council. Practice required that a full set of the minutes be regularly sent to the Colonial Office for its information. The volumes in the present series, however, were maintained as the official record. Contemporary copies of Executive Council minutes sent as enclosures to despatches from the Governor to the Colonial Office are found in the CO 42, Canada, formerly British North America, Original Correspondence series (MG11-CO42) within the Colonial Office fonds, or in the Duplicate Despatches fonds (MG40-A2). Practice varied over time, and the enclosures were not always retained with the despatches, so those series are quite incomplete. Other duplicate minute books are known to have been prepared, although for what reasons is not clear. Minute books of Executive Council meetings on land matters, 1806-1811, are found in the Executive Council of Upper Canada fonds (MG9-D1). Those records were among the duplicates which the Public Record Office transferred to National Archives custody in 1909 in the course of the PRO reorganization of 1908-1910. The submissions (petitions and other documents) to the Executive Council on land business, upon which the minutes were based, are found elsewhere within this fonds in the Land Submissions to the Executive Council series. Note also that submissions and related records prior to 1791 which document the disposition of lands in those parts of the "old" Province of Quebec which came within the boundaries of the Province of Upper Canada after 1791, are found in the Land Petitions and Related Records of the Executive Council series within the Records of the Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada fonds. The Rough and Draft Minutes and Reports of the Executive Council series, found elsewhere within this fonds, also includes records which document the land functions of the Executive Council during the period 1791-1841 and which complement the minutes found in the present series. For various land-related records maintained by the Clerk of Council, see the Office Records of the Clerk of the Executive Council series, found elsewhere within this fonds. The minutes of decisions, when written out in the form of extracts from the minute books are known as Orders-in-Council and serve as authority for actions. Copies of Orders-in-Council may be found scattered in different series within this fonds, while others may be located among the records of their recipients - such as the Surveyor General, the Attorney General or the Inspector General. It was only after 1841 that the Clerk of the Executive Council of the Province of Canada began to retain a complete set of Orders-in-Council for reference purposes; such a practice was not carried out by the Clerk in Upper Canada. Where an Order-in-Council cannot be located, the researcher should consider the corresponding minute recorded in the minute book to be an equally valid record of the authorization granted for some action.

Citation / reference note
Patricia Kennedy's Introduction to the Index to the Upper Canada Land Books - Volume 3 (January 1806 to December 1816) (Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2001) provides a succinct and extremely useful description of the land-granting process in Upper Canada. It summarizes the steps which an applicant for land was required to take, describes the roles of the various officials involved, and discusses the relationships among the records created in the land-granting process. Other useful sources of information on land-granting policy and processes include Lillian F. Gates, Land Policies in Upper Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968), and G. C. Patterson, Land Settlement in Upper Canada, 1783-1840 (Toronto: Ontario Archives, 1921). In addition, Appendix III of the publication known as Public Archives of Canada, Manuscript Division: Preliminary Inventory, Record Group 1, Executive Council, Canada, 1764-1867 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1953) reprints Surveyor General Thomas Ridout's 1818 report to Sir Peregrine Maitland in which Ridout summarizes the history of land-granting in the colony to 1818 and outlines the process by which land was disposed. The texts of Upper Canada Land Books A-D (i.e., vols. 19-22) were printed in the Ontario Archives Reports for 1928-1931. Appendices list members of the District Land Boards and dates of Council meetings. A nominal index was included in each of these volumes.

Preferred citation note
Suggestions on proper citation style for the records in this series are provided in the CAB RG 1 Shelf List (see RG 1, L1 section).

Availability of other formats note
Microfilmed copies of vols. 18-39 are available on reels C-100 to C-107. Microfilming was completed in 1951. For lists correlating volume numbers with microfilm reel numbers, see the finding aid cited elsewhere within this descriptive entry. Users of the microfilm should note that the records are not identified on the reels according to the current volume numbers (vols. 18-39) or current series title. Rather, they are identified by the letter designations assigned to each bound volume by the records creators (i.e., A, B, C, ... U) and by the dates of the material present in each volume. To avoid confusion when using the microfilm, users should pay close attention to the descriptions provided in the finding aid. Microfilming of the card index which serve the above-noted records (finding aid MSS1802) was carried out in 1981 with supplementary entries filmed in 1991.

Private