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Description found in Archives

Geological Survey of Canada sous-fonds [textual record, graphic material, cartographic material]. 

Sous-fonds consists of



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

54.85 m of textual records
5731 photographs
1 atlas : 2 vol. 45 leaves.
21,399 maps : chiefly mss.
268 maps copperplate negatives : 66 x 92 cm or smaller.

Scope and content

Sous-fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Geological Survey of Canada and its predecessors. The records comprise the Office of the Director; Office of the Chief Geologist, Office of the Librarian, Correspondence fo P.A. Taverner; Letterbook of R.W. Ells; Central registry; Section of Mines and Manuscript maps for the Geological Information Division.

Textual records
99: Closed pending processing
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Cartographic material
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Crown Copyright. Credit: Library and Archives Canada.

Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions or consult ArchiviaNet. 96 (Other)

Additional name(s)

Biography / Administrative history

On July 5, 1841, the first session of the Parliament of the united province of Canada entertained a petition from the Natural History Society of Montreal, and the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec for a systematic geological survey of the province. The proposal was adopted on September 10th, and it was resolved that "...a sum not exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars be defray the probable expense in causing a Geological Survey of the Province to be made" (Canada [Province], Legislative Assembly, Journals, 1841, p. 559, 10 Sept., 1841). The survey started the following year under the guidance of William Logan, and was to concentrate on a search for coal deposits - a vital prerequisite in the nineteenth century for industrial development. Logan's survey is now widely considered the beginning of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). Although the survey failed to locate coal deposits in either Upper or Lower Canada, it was immediately evident that such work saved developers from squandering their own limited finances on expensives.

Under Logan's tutelage, the Survey lived up to its mandate admirably, and in its second decade, it began promoting Canada's mining industry through museum like displays at the international exhibitions and at its headquarters in Montreal. In its third decade, the Survey also began a comprehensive publishing program with the launching of Logan's 983 page Geology of Canada, and the first large-scale geological maps.

With Confederation, the Survey was placed under the newly created Secretary of State for Canada (Order in Council, PC 1, 1 July, 1867). One of twelve ministries, the Secretary of State was given the management and control of Indian affairs and Indian lands (sec. 31), along with ordnance and admiralty lands transferred to the Province of Canada and lying in the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario (sec. 34), and all Crown Lands being the property of the Dominion, that were not specifically under the control of the Public Works Department (sec. 36).

The value of the GSC to Canada's industrial growth increased substantially with the transfer of Rupert's Land to the new Dominion of Canada in 1871. This single transaction increased Canada's land base by more than ten times. The GSC was given the vital role of identifying the natural resources that would help finance the region's economic integration into Confederation, and just two years later, it was made a branch of the new Department of the Interior (36 Vic., c. 4, 1873). The latter was the special agency created by the federal government to incorporate the unsettled areas of the prairies into Sir John A. Macdonald's dream of a nation from sea to sea.

With the rapid expansion of the Department of the Interior as a result of increased administrative duties incurred from the flood of immigration to western Canada, the GSC was made a separate department in 1890, but was still to be presided over by the Minister of the Interior (53 Vic., c. 11). In an effort to increase the professionalism of the Survey, the new act also raised the qualifications of the staff by making it necessary for new recruits to be graduates of a recognized university, college, or mining school. In this same vein, the act also prohibited staff from becoming involved in private mining ventures that were in any way related to their duties. Officers were "forbidden henceforth to buy Crown lands, report their findings to anyone except their immediate superior, make investigations or prepare reports for private individuals, or have any pecuniary interest in any mineral activities in the Dominion"

In response to intense lobbying from the mining industry, the Geological Survey was amalgamated, in 1907, with the Mineral Statistics Branch of the Department of the Interior to form a new Department of Mines (6-7 Edw. VII, c. 29). It was thought that this new department would give the mining industry a higher profile in government, the equivalent to fisheries and agriculture which also had their own ministries. The new Department was to "administer all laws enacted by the Parliament of Canada relating to mines and mining" (sec. 4), and was to consist of two Branches: a Mines Branch and a Geological Survey. With minor exception, each of the two Branches retained their earlier responsibilities. The Mines Branch was to collect and publish statistics on mining operations and ore deposits, and was to collect specimens for experimentation and exhibition. The Geological Survey was to continue examining the geological structure and mineralogy of the country. For the first time, the new act empowered the Survey to collect ethnological materials (although it had been already doing this for a number of years). It also confirmed that the new Victoria Memorial Museum would be placed under the curatorship of the new Department (sec. 8).

When control of public lands and their resources was finally handed over to the three western provinces in 1930, the few responsibilities for natural resource development that remained with the federal government _ and which were housed in five departments: Mines, Interior, Indian Affairs, and Immigration, as well as the Hydrographic Service Division of the Department of Marine _ were merged along with the Geological Survey into the new Department of Mines and Resources (1 Edw. VIII, c. 33, 1936). This re-organization brought together again, under a new name, some of the former functions of the Department of the Interior that had split off into separate departments. The amalgamation was suppose to result in some savings for the federal government by enabling it to centralize, various administrative services formerly carried out by five Departments.

This new arrangement remained in effect until 1947 when the Department re-organized itself and amalgamated all its research activities into the Mines, Forests and Scientific Services Branch (all non-scientific activities relating to natural resources administration were brought together under the Land and Development Services Branch). The Geological Survey was placed in the new Mines, Forests and Scientific Services Branch along with the Bureau of Mines, the Dominion Forest Service, the Surveys and Mapping Bureau, the Dominion Water and Power Bureau, the Geographic Bureau, the National Museum of Canada, and the Dominion Observatories.

Just three years later, a major re-alignment of the functions of two federal departments was initiated by the St-Laurent government. The former Department of Mines and Resources, and the Department of Reconstruction and Supply were abolished (13 Geo. VI, c. 18) and in their place were created three new departments: Citizenship and Immigration (13 Geo. VI, c. 16), Mines and Technical Surveys (13 Geo. VI, c. 17), and Resources and Development (13 Geo. VI, c. 18). The shuffle was justified on the grounds "...that the importance of the mineral industry and of the Government's relations with the industry was such that there might well be a Minister of the Crown who would devote his full attention to the fields of mines and mining". The Geological Survey of Canada constituted one of five branches in the new department.

This arrangment remained largely unchange until 1966 when the government passed the Government Organization Act. As a result of this legislation, the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys was renamed the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (14-15 Eliz. II, c. 25). The new department became the federal government's principal agency for the discovery, investigation, development and conservation of Canada's mineral, water and energy resources. To meet this new responsibility, the Department acquired from the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources responsibility for water resources inventory and planning; mineral resources exploration for certain areas under federal jurisdiction, including Hudson Bay and the continental shelves; and federal energy policy. The department's operative agencies were organized into four groups: Mines and Geoscience, Water, Mineral Development, and Energy Development. The Mines and Geosciences Group retained most of the original agencies of the former Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, including: the Surveys and Mapping Branch, the Geological Survey of Canada, the Mines Branch, the Observatories Branch, the Polar Continental Shelf Project, and the Geographical Branch. Directors of the Geological Survey of Canada:

William E. Logan, 1842-69; Alfred R. C. Selwyn, 1869-95; George M. Dawson, 1895-1901; Robert Bell (acting), 1901-06; Albert P. Low, 1906-07; Reginald W. Brock, 1907-14; William McInnes, 1914-20; William H. Collins, 1920-36; Walter A. Bell, 1950-53; George Hanson, 1953-56; James M. Harrison, 1956-64; Yves O. Fortier, 1964-73.

Additional information

Source of title
Annual Reports

Availability of other formats note
The copy negative numbers for the items digitized are PA-050799 PA-050813 (DAPDCAP)


Other system control no.