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Description found in Archives

Submissions to the Executive Council relating to the audit of provincial public accounts [textual record]. 


[ca. 1791-1819]

Place of creation


15.097 m of textual records.

Scope and content

Series consists of records created and/or accumulated by the Executive Council, in performing its function as a board of audit, in auditing the provincial public accounts. In Upper Canada this activity was initially performed by the full Executive Council or by a committee of the whole sitting as a board of audit. In performing its audit function, the Executive Council would form itself into a committee of the whole as the need arose (or as it was summoned to do by the Lieutenant Governor), rather than assign the audit to a permanent committee made up of only some members, as was done in some other colonies. The surviving records of the audit process consist of documents created by the board of audit, its secretary (the Clerk of the Executive Council) and the Inspector General during their examination of the accounts, as well as the statements of account and supporting documents submitted to the board. These include "schedules" of accounts examined; "statements" of revenues collected and of expenditures, with vouchers, correspondence and other documents submitted to justify or explain the statements; the "remarks" of the Inspector General on the validity of statements and supporting documents; a set of entry books used for the period 1800-1810 to record texts of submissions; and several sequences of "warrant books" recording the full text or an abstract of warrants issued to authorize payments by the Receiver General pursuant to the auditing of accounts. The lists of accounts examined ("schedules") prefaced each bundle of statements of account submitted by the head of each government office, department or agency. Vouchers justifying the expenditures were numbered and attached to the statements. In that the statements and vouchers were examined by the Inspector General of Public Accounts prior to board meetings, his remarks on their validity may be found as separate reports or attached to those documents. The findings of the board on the validity of accounts were recorded in minutes, known as "reports" when entered in the state minute books. The text of specific minutes is found endorsed on some submissions, and in the entry books for 1800-1810. The Clerk of the Council, as secretary to the board of audit, used the "schedule" as an agenda for the presentation of accounts to the board of audit in each half-year period and numbered the accounts to correlate with the minutes. The Inspector General keyed his "remarks" to those account numbers. In turn, vouchers and supporting documents were numbered to correlate with each statement of account. Other numeric and alpha-numeric sequences were used to correlate the warrants authorizing payments to the statements. These various systems provided the Inspector General, the Receiver General and other officials with efficient means of tracing relationships between minutes and statements, statements and vouchers, or statements and warrants. Vouchers and statements have been arranged in numeric sequence according to the schedules under which they were presented for audit. Thus a reference found in the minutes entered in the state minute books may be traced to the corresponding statements and vouchers with the aid of the Shelf List.

Textual records
90: Open
from 1 to 150
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Consultation of the records in this series is unrestricted. However, where a document's size, fragility, binding or method of attachment may pose a risk of damage in handling, no photoduplication will be permitted.

Textual records The finding aid also includes an Introduction which provides: extensive explanatory notes on the nature of the records and the government structures that produced them; comments on the inter-relationships among the records within the present series and those in other series and other fonds; a glossary of terminology; and suggestions for developing research strategies to get the most use possible from the records. MSS1944 90 (Electronic)

Textual records The finding aid provides a description of the records at the file-title level. Each account is treated as a file. Part I of the finding aid provides a chronologically-ordered listing of accounts (statements, vouchers and other supporting documents) presented to the board of audit (covering vols. 1-121), plus an analytical listing of the entry books and warrant books (vols. 122-150). It also describes related volumes in other series of the present fonds, and in other fonds, the physical transfer of which to the present series was not practicable. Part II presents the same information about the accounts (vols. 1-121) arranged by the offices forming the Civil Establishment. MSS1944 90 (Electronic)

Textual records The CAB RG 1 Shelf List (see RG 1, E 15 B section) is a typed volume-level description which provides period of audit (year) and volume number for vols. 1-121. For vols. 122-150 (the registers of warrants) it indicates type of record, inclusive dates, and current volume numbers; for ease of locating antiquated references, former volume numbers are also provided. CAB RG 1 Shelf List 90 (Paper)

Biography / Administrative history

From the appointment in 1801 of John McGill as Inspector General and Comptroller of the Public Provincial Accounts, it was that officer who carried out the examination in detail of the public accounts, sent to him half-yearly by the Clerk of Council. The Inspector General facilitated the board's task by previewing the statements and vouchers, querying irregularities, requesting justification of exceptional charges, and providing the board with his "Remarks" on the validity of documents submitted for audit. Thereafter, the function performed in the Executive Council was one of review of the Inspector General's work, confirming or disallowing the recommendations of the Inspector General. Nevertheless, the nature of roles and responsibilities was such that, despite the fact that the detailed work was performed by the Inspector General, his task was still described in contemporary records as the "examination" of the accounts. The members of the Executive Council still sat as a "board of audit" to rule upon his findings, and their function was still referred to as the "audit". Moreover, this is not to suggest that the role of the Executive Council as a board of audit became merely perfunctory following the appointment of the Inspector General. Indeed, measured by the number of Council meetings taken up with the audit of the accounts, the Council continued to devote a considerable proportion of its time to this function. The role of the Executive Council, sitting as a board of audit, during the period of the Province of Upper Canada, should not be confused with that of the Board of Audit created in the Province of Canada as a result of the 1855 Audit Act. While it is true that the records of the Executive Council of Upper Canada (e.g., the minutes) do frequently refer to the accounts reviewing body of the Council as a "board of audit", contemporary documents also make the point that the audit functions of the Council in the Upper Canada period were not the same as those carried out from 1855 after the creation of a separate Board of Audit. Indeed, the 1839 Commission which investigated the government departments in Upper Canada made the point that the Executive Council did not function as a true "board of audit" as that term was understood by the commissioners of the day. One of the recommendations of the 1839 Commission was that a true Board of Audit be created.

Additional information

Custodial history
The majority of the records of the audit process were acquired in 1907 by transfer from the Privy council Office or from the Secretary of State's Office in 1906. Re-assessment in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in the inclusion of some records previously linked to RG 5 (Records of the Civil and Provincial Secretaries, Upper Canada and Canada West), records which were transferred to the custody of Library and Archives Canada in 1906 from the Office of the Secretary of State of Canada. In 1989 a small quantity of material was received from the Archives of Ontario, documents which were found astray with records inherited by the Government of Ontario.

Related materials
Records of the Receiver General and of the Inspector General, related to the auditing of Provincial public accounts, are found among the records of the Department of Finance fonds (R200, formerly RG 19) and also among the records of the Auditor General of Canada fonds (R711, formerly RG 58). Records related to the audit process are also found in RG 5 (Records of the Civil and Provincial Secretaries, Upper Canada and Canada West), series B34, and in the Miscellaneous Correspondence and Subject Files series of the Office of the Governor General of Canada fonds (R178, formerly RG7), although the relationship of the latter records with those found in the present series has yet to be determined. The texts of minutes or reports and certain other records compiled by the board of audit were entered into the state minute books among the minutes of other aspects of state business (see the State Minute Books of the Executive Council series found elsewhere within this fonds). Some documents relating to the public accounts were found to have been incorporated into the alpha-numeric filing system for submissions to the Executive Council (see the State Submissions to the Executive Council series, elsewhere within this fonds). Note that statements for expenditures prior to 1791, relating to that part of the Province of Quebec which became Upper Canada, may be found with records of Quebec and Lower Canada in the Submissions to the Executive Council relating to the Audit of Provincial Public Accounts series, in the Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada fonds. Copies of the board's minutes and of the submissions to it were forwarded to London for further review. The surviving records of the Imperial Audit Office and its processes are described in the Audit Office fonds (MG14-AO), in particular in the two series AO 1, Declared Accounts, and AO 3, Accounts, Various. Only a few of the Audit Office records which relate to British North America have been copied by Library and Archives Canada. The relationships between records of the Executive Council board of audit and those of the Treasury in London are worthy of further investigation (see the records of the Treasury fonds - MG15-T). Again, only a limited quantity of the Treasury records which relate to British North America have been copied by the Archives. A variety of reports on the public accounts and related schedules of expenditures as well as extracts from the public accounts were printed in the Journals of the Legislative Assembly and the Journals of the Legislative Council. Investigation has shown that the reports on public accounts published in the Journals of the Legislature represent a summary of the information available in the present series. The details found in the vouchers are not reflected in the printed texts.

Arrangement note
The arrangement of the series was thoroughly reviewed in 1984-87 and the original order of the statements, vouchers and related documents was reconstructed insofar as circumstances permitted. Duplicates were retained within the series (and are identified by red file labels), but segregated from the primary series of submissions. Certain records identified as astray in RG 5 (Records of the Civil and Provincial Secretaries, Upper Canada and Canada West), series B34, were reintegrated into the primary series of submissions. In some cases, reintegration was considered impracticable; the location of such records and the nature of their relationships are explained in Finding Aid MSS1944. Correspondence the Inspector General regarding his preliminary examination of accounts remains in (or was reintegrated into) RG 5, series B34. Records of the Receiver General's primary functions, prior to or subsequent to audit, remain in the Department of Finance fonds (R200, formerly RG 19).

Citation / reference note
For a description of the audit process and of the roles of the Inspector General and of the Executive Council at the end of the Upper Canada period, see the Fifth Report of the Commissioners inquiring into the public departments of the Province of Upper Canada, Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Upper Canada, 1839-1840. It states, in part, that: "In the Inspector's Department, all the Accounts at present undergo careful examination, and the Inspector General is supposed to be responsible both for the sufficiency of the authority, and the correctness of the calculations, &c. He, in short, audits the Accounts previous to their being submitted to the Council. The Council merely decide upon questionable items, and confirm or over-rule the allowance of the Inspector General. The attention of that Board is only drawn to doubtful or unapproved items. For the correctness of the Account in general, reliance is placed upon the Inspector as the responsible Officer".

Preferred citation note
Suggestions on proper citation style for the records in this series are provided in Finding Aid MSS1944. In that most of the records do not bear page numbers, users should take special care in citing material when ordering copies, in order to avoid confusion. Recommended citation for copying order purposes is also provided in the finding aid.

Availability of other formats note
Although the records in the present series have not been microfilmed, the texts of minutes or reports and certain other records compiled by the board of audit were entered in the state minute books of the Executive Council, records which are available on microfilm. The Journals of the Legislative Assembly and of the Legislative Council, which contain copies of reports on public accounts and related documents, are also available in microform. A variety of such reports were also printed as unique publications which may be available on microfiche through the Canadian Institute for Historical Micro-Reproductions.


Related control no.