Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

Douglas Brymner

BRYMNER, DOUGLAS, politician, journalist, and civil servant; b. 3 July 1823 in Greenock, Scotland, son of Alexander Brymner and Elizabeth Fairlie; m. there 1853 Jean Thomson, and they had nine children; d. 19 June 1902 in New Westminster, B.C., and was buried in Ottawa.

The fourth son of a banker and one-time editor of the Greenock Intelligencer, Douglas Brymner received his early education at the Greenock Grammar School. In the late 1840s he worked as a shipping agent and in 1850 he joined his brother Graham in the operation of a coal and lime business in Greenock, but ill health and overwork forced him to withdraw in 1856. The following year he immigrated to Canada with his wife and son. They settled at Melbourne, Lower Canada, where Brymner made an unsuccessful attempt at farming. Active in church and community affairs, he served two terms as mayor there. He turned to journalism and in 1864 moved his family to Montreal, where he assumed the editorship of the Presbyterian; at the same time he joined the editorial staff of the Montreal Herald and for a time represented it in the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa. Brymner retained both editorial positions until the spring of 1872, when he left for Ottawa. He had accepted an appointment to the Department of Agriculture as clerk in charge of archives.

The impetus to collect and preserve records and documents pertaining to Canada’s past originated with the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, which, led by Henry Hopper Miles, had petitioned parliament in March 1871 for the establishment of an archive. The next year $4,000 was placed in the estimates of the Department of Agriculture for an investigation of archives in Canada. On 1 June Brymner took up his appointment, which was formally established by order in council on 20 June.

Thus, at age 48, Brymner made a fresh start in a new career, in an enterprise that was little understood and vaguely defined. The reasons for his selection are not clear. He had no connection with the Literary and Historical Society, though he appears to have had a general interest in historical matters. Whatever his qualifications, he tackled his new responsibilities with intelligence and enthusiasm. In three empty rooms in the basement of the west block on Parliament Hill, with no staff and not a single document in his custody, Brymner began what he described as “a task of more than ordinary difficulty.”

In his first year Brymner visited provincial capitals and other cities in search of old records that rightly belonged in Ottawa. In Montreal he discovered a cache of union-period financial records and in Halifax he investigated a collection of British military material, some 400,000 documents, that was destined for shipment to England. Brymner negotiated with British authorities and the records were transferred to Ottawa. Nothing would match the size or significance of this acquisition for many years to come.

Brymner went to London in 1873 and knocked on doors throughout the city, visiting the War Office, the Colonial Office, the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Public Record Office, the British Museum, and even the Tower of London in search of material relating to Canada. He recommended to agriculture minister John Henry Pope that such documents in Britain be copied and bound for deposit in the archives. This recommendation was confirmed by Abbé Hospice-Anthelme-Jean-Baptiste Verreau, who had also been sent by the government in 1873 to search out material in Europe, strangely without knowledge at first of Brymner’s mission. But little was done to promote archival work during the lean middle years of the 1870s. Since Brymner had no staff to assist him and his meagre budget was reduced, he remained in Ottawa, where he painstakingly indexed most of the British military collection.

By 1880, this task completed, a rejuvenated Brymner once again turned his attention to acquisition. Following visits to Britain in 1881 and 1883, and to France in the latter year, he initiated a program of copying at the Public Record Office in London and directed his first assistant, Joseph-Étienne-Eugène Marmette, to begin investigative work in Paris on records relating to the French regime. The copying of Sir Frederick Haldimand’s papers at the British Museum, begun modestly in 1878, was pursued in earnest four years later. Transcription was tedious and beset with problems. Brymner was a perfectionist and he personally inspected all copies as they arrived in Ottawa. Constantly annoyed by errors, sloppy handwriting, poor binding, and delays in transmittal, he experimented with photography as a means of duplicating documents.

Brymner’s systematic approach to acquisition expanded at home too. In the early 1880s he approached the families of those who had been involved in early events in Canadian history for donations of papers and records. He also started to build a library of books, newspapers, journals, association reports, government publications, and pamphlets, his objective being the creation of a great storehouse of Canadiana. To make his collections known, he decided to summarize or calendar them and publish the information in the archives’ annual reports. He started in 1881 with the Haldimand papers, a task that would take him 14 years to complete, and continued with the state papers for Upper and Lower Canada. Researchers took note. Genealogists, antiquarians, historians such as William Kingsford, and government officials turned to Brymner for historical advice.

In the 1890s the copying work in Britain continued to occupy Brymner’s attention and was responsible for half of the archives’ annual expenditure during most of the decade. Similar work commenced in Paris. Approaching his 70th year, Brymner flirted with retirement, but he found it difficult to break away from the archives. In the fall of 1892 he moved to London to continue the search for documents; he would remain in Britain until the summer of 1894. While there, he investigated record-keeping practices in the British government and in other European countries, including Belgium, France, and Germany. Since 1875 in Ottawa Henry James Morgan had been serving as keeper of the records in the Department of the Secretary of State, where he too collected older government records. Brymner’s study of foreign archives may have been motivated by a desire to end the rivalry and consolidate archival operations. His recommendation that a single record office be established fell on deaf ears until the spring of 1897. In February of that year the west block had been ravaged by fire and though no archival records were destroyed, Brymner’s holdings suffered some water damage. The loss by a number of departments of operational records prompted the government to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate the state of public records. Following Brymner’s advice, it recommended the consolidation of all archival records. Yet Brymner’s dream of a properly constituted records office would not be realized until 1903, a year after his death.

Brymner’s personal life revolved around family and church. In Melbourne and Montreal he had been a prominent Presbyterian, serving as an elder at annual synod in 1858, 1861, 1864, 1867, and 1868. However, because of his opposition to the union of Presbyterian churches in Canada in the 1870s, he joined the Church of England. He was a founding member and later a warden of St Barnabas’ Church in Ottawa. After his wife’s death in 1884, he remained close to his family. He died in 1902 while he was visiting his son George Douglas, a banker in New Westminster. Of the four sons and one daughter who survived him, the best known is William, a renowned artist. When William had moved to Paris in 1878 to study painting, he was liberally supported by his father, who later acted as his agent in Ottawa.

As head of the Canadian archives for 30 years, Brymner amassed an impressive library of books and pamphlets, and over 3,100 volumes of hand-copied and bound manuscripts. Because he was restricted by appropriations that remained unchanged, and inadequate, until the mid 1890s and often worked alone (Marmette and his successor, Édouard Richard, spent much of their time in France), Brymner’s accomplishment is all the more impressive. Acutely aware of the value of history, he realized that there could be no study without raw materials and so he dedicated himself to building collections that would allow historical research, and the historical profession in Canada, to expand and flourish. In recognition of his efforts, Queen’s College in Kingston awarded him an lld in 1892 and three years later he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Brymner’s legacy can be found in the annual reports of the archives, especially those published after 1882. The calendars and analyses of documents prepared by Brymner alone amount to more than 10,000 printed pages in the volumes that appeared between 1883 and 1902. Although the institution remained small throughout his tenure, Douglas Brymner alone was responsible for creating a solid foundation for Canada’s national archives.

Glenn Wright

The early development of the Canadian archives may be traced in a series of reports appended to the minister of agriculture’s annual reports for 1872 to 1903, available in Can., Parl., Sessional papers, 1873–1904. Douglas Brymner’s preliminary findings of 1872 and 1873 appear in the Sessional papers for 1873 and 1874 respectively, and H.-A.-[J.-] B. Verreau’s “Report of proceedings connected with Canadian archives in Europe” in those for 1875. After 1882 the appendices were also issued separately as Report on Canadian archives (Ottawa). Brymner prepared the reports for 1883–1901. A description of the early reports and their contents is provided in Index to reports of Canadian archives from 1872 to 1908 (Ottawa, 1909), published by the Canadian Archives (now the NA).

Douglas Brymner’s other publications cover a wide variety of topics. He is the author of two poems, “Charms of country life: an imitation,” in Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly and National Rev. (Toronto), 2 (January–June 1879): 429–30, and The twa mongrels: a modern eclogue (Toronto, 1876), issued under the pseudonym Tummas Treddles. An article, “The battle of Stoney Creek,” appears in the Hamilton Assoc., Journal and Proc. ([Hamilton, Ont.]), no.11 (1894–95): 36–44, and two others were published in the RSC Trans.: “The Jamaica maroons – how they came to Nova Scotia – how they left it,” 2nd ser., 1 (1895), sect.ii: 81–90, and “The death of Sir Humphrey Gilbert,” 2 (1896), sect. ii: 33–39.

His output also comprises a number of pamphlets, including Property and civil rights ((Ottawa], 1880) and two issued anonymously “by a Quebec Liberal”: Remarks on reciprocity and the Thornton–Brown memorandum (Montreal, 1874) and Commercial union: a study ([Ottawa?, 1888?]). Several concern his opposition to Presbyterian church union: Presbyterian union: a help to the intelligent discussion of the question; by an elder (Toronto, 1873), Faults and failures of the late Presbyterian union in Canada (London, Ont., 1879), Endowments of the Church of Scotland in Canada; evidence of Mr. Douglas Brymner before the Senate committee on private bills . . . (Toronto, 1883); he also issued a broadside on the same subject, Church of Scotland’s endowment ([Ottawa?, 1882?]), prepared jointly with T. A. McLean.

Finally, Brymner prepared translations from the French of Emile Petitot, Monograph of the Dènè-Dindjié Indians (n.p., [1878]) and Monograph of the Esguimaux Tchiglit of the Mackenzie and of the Anderson ([Montreal, 1878]); and J.-C. Taché, The Colorado potato beetle (Chrysomela decemlineata) and how to oppose its ravages ([Ottawa], 1880).
Among these contributions may be especially mentioned a number of translations of the "Odes of Horace" into Scotch verse.

Here are some of his reports...

Faults and Failures of the Late Presbyterian Union in Canada (pdf)
Intercepted Letters to the Duke de Mirepoix, 1756
Before his resignation from the Commission, Dr. Douglas Brymner, Archivist of the Dominion of Canada, selected from the materials under his command the following letters, and had them copied for the Commission (pdf)
The Jamaica Maroons
How they came to Nora Scotia — How they left it (pdf)
Monograph of the Déné - Dindjié Indians
By the Rev. E. Petitot, Oslay Missionary, translated by Douglas Brymner (pdf)

Canadian Archive Reports
This issue concludes the work of Douglas Brymner
Tables of the Trade and Navigation of the Dominion of Canada for the Fiscal Year ended June 1903
Introduction by the new archivist

To the Honourable
Sydney A. Fisher, M.P.,
Minister of Agiiculture.

Sir,—Soon after my appointment as Dominion Archivist and Keeper of the Records in May last, I commenced to inquire into the arrangements in operation for the collection, classification and safe keeping of the public records, with the view of preparing a preliminary report on the subject. As the various series of papers deposited in the Archives Branch of your department comprise only a small portion of the records now nominally in my custody, it is convenient, for the purpose of this report, to divide them into two classes: (A) The documents collected under the direction of the late Dr. Brymner; (B) The numerous collections of original papers at present deposited in different departments, which are to be incorporated with class “A”.

According to the report of my predecessor, published in the year 1872, “A petition was presented to the Parliament of the Dominion, setting forth that authors and literary enquirers were placed in a very disadvantageous position in this country, as compared with persons of the same class in Great Britain, France and the United States, in consequence of being practically debarred from facilities of access to the public records, documents and official papers, in manuscript, illustrative of the progress of society in Canada, and praying that steps be taken to have the Archives of Canada collected.”

To a limited extent, the prayer of the petitioners has been granted, and we have now deposited in the Archives Branch a useful collection of papers, which illustrate, in an impel feet manner, certain phases of our history. But when we take a comprehensive survey of the sources of information within our grasp, and of the requirements of the modern historian, we find that our storehouse needs replenishing; that at present we are unable to keep pace with the spirit of inquiry which during the last half century, in particular, has so vigorously asserted itself in the United States and in Europe, and has long been felt in Canada. A great change has taken place in the method of writing history. Formerly, a concrete, categorical history, even if it were possible, would not have been welcomed as it is to-day. A picturesque presentation of the outward and visible signs—the landmarks of history—in which facts were subordinate to the temper or inclination of the writer, found favour; and often a re-arrangement or reproduction of accepted facts was sufficient, since the public was not prepared for anything save the conventional. But, with the larger freedom of the individual, the scope of history has been broadened, and there is a desire and a determination on the part of competing historians to deal with everything that tends to elucidate the life of the past. In Canada it is apparent, even to the least observant, .that there is a steady growth of national feeling ; and as the strength of national life must depend upon the vitality of its component parts, it is only natural to find a desire to ascertain the accurate proportion of individual effort in those measures which have contributed to the welfare of the whole community. With the realization of citizenship, and the recognition of individual influence in the progress of human affairs, the importance of the individual has increased, and the records of men which a by-gone age would have ignored, are now invested with ever increasing interest. In the more important documents of state we may find the expression of the voice of the people; but from local records and semi-private papers, we may construct a vivid picture of the temper, habits and aspirations of the people, and may follow, stage by stage, the evolutions which have brought about movements of political and economic change. By the collection of these records in organized centres substantial additions are constantly being made to our storehouse of knowledge. The barrier so long opposed to the revelation of truth has been broken down, and we have been admitted behind the scenes. Throughout the civilized world the past is being studied from the records of the men who made its history, rather than in the lives of those whom accident or choice may have identified with the prominence of the country. This wider field of inquiry has imposed new responsibilities upon Governments as the custodians of national archives. Papers are gathered and preserved at the public expense, which at one time would have been left to private enterprise; and facilities of access are now demanded where they would once have been accorded solely as a favour.

To the modern historian this change presents many difficulties. Canada is still a young country, hardly conscious of its strength, or of the brilliant future towards which it is pressing. In the three Centuries of its activity it has passed through many vicissitudes ; has emerged from violent struggles, has suffered severe shocks. The history of these three centuries is crowded with detail; its course has run in widely divergent directions, and the issue of its warfare has had such far-reaching effects, that it forms an absorbing study. Innumerable influences have left their impress upon the features of our national life. Justice demands that the progress of each should be defined, in order that their mutual action may be faithfully appreciated. At the threshold of his subject, therefore, the historian is confronted with a mass of detail which he finds it impossible to co-ordinate in one comprehensive work, whatever may be the range of his intellect or the length of his years. Selection is open to him ; but, in order to work out his scheme intelligently he is forced to attribute to certain influences or tendencies, a prominence to which they have no claim. And when the defects of his work are discovered by the specialist or critic, the author is accused of ignorance or of partiality ; when, in reality, he has simply attempted an impossible task. Specialization, therefore, becomes imperative, and to meet this requirement of the age the enquirer turns naturally towards those institutions from which he can draw the information desired. Oft times by the light of new evidence he will be able to show how far opinions have supplied the place of facts, whilst documents which would have permitted the age to speak for itself have been buried in obscurity; or, in sympathy with a spirit which has fostered the suppression of truth, jealously guarded from the touch of profane hands. The desirability of collecting our archives, and of rendering them available to the public with all reasonable promptitude, should, I think, commend itself to the people of the Dominion, since an accurate knowledge of its past may become an important factor in its future development. All those who have studied our written history closely, and are at all familiar with the amount of unassimilated material concerning every age, will, I believe, frankly admit that it is unsatisfactory. Written from so many standpoints, and necessarily based upon insufficient evidence, no uniformity exists or is possible. And yet it is upon this imperfect, and oft times narrow view of the past, that our text books are formed and our youth are examined for academic honours. Much sterling work has been accomplished by Canadian historians which will forever remain as a monument to them. The cardinal points of our history may remain unchanged; but the full, true history of men, of their motives, and of their influence on the progress of this great country, which is now beginning to take its proper place amongst the nations of the world, can be fully appreciated only in the light of documents which at present, to the great majority, are unknown. There are many students in each Province of the Dominion who are engaged in independent research; men who have kept in touch more or less with the work done by my predecessor, and by others in a smaller way. Each must have felt the need of a national history, based upon the most ample documentary evidence. The inauguration of a work of this nature by the Universities, with the co-operation of the Government, might possibly commend itself as a fitting movement to mark the passing in 1908, of the third century of the birth of Canada. What we need at present are facilities which will permit the location and collection of documents now scattered throughout the Dominion and in foreign lands. These records would enable the student to prepare exhaustive monographs ; and when we have gathered the stones, Canada will not be wanting in master craftsmen capable of hewing them into shape and of giving them artistic form—of converting them into a history worthy of the Canadian people and of their splendid heritage.

That portions of our history have still to be written, and that much of it needs to be recast, is not extraordinary. Countries which were already old at the birth of Canada have considered it advisable to remodel their history. In England,’ with its settled institutions and its masterpieces of historical literature, a work of this kind was planned by the late Lord Acton, professor of history at Cambridge, and is now being published under the auspices of the University. In the preface to the first volume this passage occurs, which I think is applicable to our own case :—

“The printing of archives has kept pace with the admission of enquirers; and the total mass of new matter which the last half century has accumulated, amounts to thousands of volumes. In view of changes and gains such as these, it has become impossible for the historical writer of the present age to trust without reserve even to the most respected secondary authorities. The honest student finds himself continually deserted, retarded, misled by the classics of historical literature, and has to hew his own way through multitudinous transactions, periodicals and official publications, in order to reach the truth.”

I Students of Canadian history owe a debt of gratitude for the labours of the late Dr. Brymner, who, in the face of difficulties, now happily in part removed, succeeded in gathering a collection of national papers, which have opened up new fields of enquiry, have stimulated individual research, and have directed widespread attention to the value of records of the past. But Dr. Brymner was not a mere collector of manuscripts. During the thirty years of his tenure of the office of Archivist he was forever ready to direct historical research, and he placed at the service of the student his sound judgment and ripe intelligence. His published reports of the Archives are yearly increasing in value, and will remain as a monument to a competent and faithful public servant. It is true that the classification of the documents is defective, and a general index to the volumes in the office is wanting. In the lifetime of Dr. Brymner, however, the want of facilities of reference did not interfere with efficient service, as the greater part of the documents had passed through his hands and could be readily found. And I am convinced, that with the limited means at his disposal and the slender staff of assistants at his command, any greater attention to detail must have been made at the sacrifice of the work, all important at the time, of collecting new material.

The public utility of this office was not at first recognized; and at the time of its organization there was no desire on the part of the departments to divest themselves of important papers which would have been of great service to literary men. From time to time attention has been called to the unsatisfactory state of the public records; but reforms can only be effected slowly, as many conditions operate against radical changes, however, desirable they may^be. An important step was taken by the Government in the year 1897, when His Excellency the Governor General approved of a report of a Committee of the Honourable the Privy Council, recommending the appointment of the Deputy Minister of Finance, The Auditor General and the Under Secretary of State, to be a Departmental Commission to report to the Treasury Board upon the state of the public records.

The commissioners, Messrs. Courtney, McDougall and Pope, made an inspection of the numerous repositories of departmental records, and embodied the result of their investigations in an excellent report, published in the year 1898. Unfortunately, their inquiry was limited to the departments only ; but it would appear to be in the public interest that their powers should be enlarged, and that periodical inspections should be made of all repositories containing records of the Crown.

The words of the Commissioners will illustrate the condition of affairs which then existed—a condition slightly improved at the present time.

“Throughout their inspection the commissioners were impressed with the lack of any community of plan amongst the several departments for the arrangement and preservation of their records. As a rule departmental papers of two or three years back were convenient of access. Those of older date are commonly relegated to the basement (apparently rather as lumber to be got rid of than as records to be preserved) where they are stored, often under conditions eminently unfavourable for their preservation, and in some departments particular classes of papers are destroyed after periods varying from three to ten years. In the majority of instances, however, they remain indefinitely in underground rooms, growing more and more difficult of access as fresh accumulations are added to the store. This condition is due to the want of a uniform system throughout the service for the disposal of records, and is aggravated by the crowded state of the departments which are. gradually becoming choked with an ever increasing mass of documents.”

“The above remarks apply to public documents generally. As regards the older papers of historic interest which form the archives of the country, the undersigned are unable to speak more favourably. It is true that there is a collection of valuable papers bearing on the early history of Canada in the Department of Agriculture, under the control of an official known as the Dominion Archivist, but this official though being amply qualified for the post, has never been provided with facilities for its adequate administration, nor enjoyed anything beyond a casual and perfunctory recognition. The Department of the Secretary of State possesses a similar collection of papers under the immediate charge of an officer known as ‘The Keeper of Records’. These two branches of the public service though ostensibly devoted to the promotion of a common object, are not in any sense of the word auxiliary to each other. On the contrary, they are distinct, and even antagonistic. The commissioners, for instance, understand that for the purpose of bridging over breaks in the archives copies have been made in the libraries of European capitals, when the originals of these very documents were at the time in the custody of one or the other of the public departments. It is not too much to say that the rivalry existing between these offices has long been an obstacle to the attainment of the unity and responsibility of control essential to the introduction of a perfect system. Another collection of state papers relating to the century immediately preceding confederation exists in the Privy Council Office, and there are many minor deposits, to one of which reference may be made. In the Department of Indian affairs the commissioners were shown a number of bound volumes of manuscript containing the reports of the Indian Commissioners at Albany, from 1722-23, and amongst other matters of historic interest, the story in part of the Mohawk war and the conspiracy of Pontiac and the migration of the Six Nation Indians. These books are quite unprotected from fire and their destruction would be a serious loss. Thus records, which united, would form a collection of rare interest, are dispersed throughout the departments, suffering more or less from damp, their value sometimes unrecognized and their very existence, it may be, unknown. Nor is it surprising, when it is borne in mind that until the fire in February last the care of records was not considered a matter of immediate concern.

“Recent experience must have taught all persons, as it has greatly impressed the undersigned with the conviction, that the danger from fire to which the public records are exposed is a serious and ever present one. On every hand the undersigned found that, owing to lack of adequate protection, records and documents, valuable and otherwise, are not only constantly exposed to the risk of fire, but are in themselves a source of danger. The wooden cupboards and pine shelving almost universally used in the departments are a constant menace, and the frequent utilization of the corridors for storage space is a practice fraught with peril. Thus the protection sought to be afforded by fireproof rooms and buildings is impacted by reason of the fittings being of combustible material.”

To this report the commissioners added a memorandum of the papers which they considered should be removed to the central office, viz:—

‘1. Everything in the Archives Branch of the Department of Agriculture.

‘2. Everything in the Records Branch in the Department of the Secretary of State, other than departmental files and letter books of later date than June 30, 1867, lodged there for convenience.

‘3. Everything in the Privy Council Office of date anterior to July 1, 1867.

‘4. Correspondence of the Provincial Secretary of Canada in the Department of Finance, and elsewhere.

‘5. Papers in the Militia department, or elsewhere, having reference to the war of 1812 and the rebellion of 1837.

‘6. Documents bearing upon the early history of the Rideau and Welland canals, whether in the Department of Railways and Canals, or in the Department of the Interior or elsewhere.

‘7. Documents in the Department of Justice, or elsewhere, relating to the risings in the North-west, and also those touching the Fenian raids.

‘8. Bound manuscript volumes containing reports of the Indian Commissioners at Albany and elsewhere, dating from 1722, now in the Department of Indian Affairs, also the original surrenders from the various tribes.

‘9. Papers in the Department of Marine and Fisheries relating to the Behring sea seal fisheries and other international questions, as the subjects to which they relate are disposed of.’

An Order in-Council based upon the recommendations of the commissioners was passed in 1903, providing for the papers to be ‘assembled in one place and put into the custody of one person, and so arranged and classified as to be easily accessible to all persons interested therein

In the same instrument it is further set forth, ‘ That it shall be the duty of the said Dominion Archivist and Keeper of the Records, under the direction of the Minister of Agriculture, to keep and preserve the archives of Canada and such other documents records and data as may tend to promote a knowledge of the history of Canada and furnish a record of events of historical interest therein, and to that end and for the greater safety in their preservation and convenience in referring thereto, that the documents, records and papers mentioned and described in said appendix ‘A’, hereinbefore referred to and such others as may from time to time be determined by Your Excellency.

in Council, he collected from the several places in which they are now respectively deposited, and placed in the custody of the said Dominion Archivist and Keeper of the records who shall thereupon under the direction, as aforesaid, be the custodian thereof.’

This, briefly, is the principal movement that has been made in recent years to centralize the Dominion archives. A precedent for the measures which are now being taken by the government is found in the action of the Intendant Hocquart, in 1731, and in the proceedings and reports of the committee under Lord Dorchester, in 1787. As the papers are amongst those which have been transferred to this office, I have arranged them for publication herewith. They give a good idea of the extent of the archives in the first years of British rule, and they may furnish a basis for the investigations that may be made in connection with the preparation of a guide. Extracts from the proceedings were printed in 1791, but the complete reports, with additions to 1799, are here given.

In the meantime I have taken such steps as were possible within the short time that has elapsed since the date of my appointment, to ascertain what other sources were available in Canada and elsewhere. My work in this direction is necessarily incomplete. One result of this investigation to date, may be mentioned, namely, that a whole series of State papers hive been transcribed for our archives from copies in Europe, while the original documents, in excellent preservation, were at the same time in Canada. These papers were not included in the report of the commissioners. Scattered throughout the Dominion there are numerous collections of papers which it may be impracticable to obtain, or even difficult to copy within a reasonable time. I believe, however, that a useful purpose would be served if they were examined. In connection with this subject, I beg to suggest that a- competent assistant should be appointed, charged with an examination of the collection of documents to be found in the Dominion, and that he be authorized to prepare a report thereon under the direction of this office, in the form of a guide to the documentary sources of information relating to Canada, at present in this country. A work of this kind would facilitate research in every part of the Dominion, it would ofttimes prevent the copying of duplicates, and it would relieve this office of many inquiries in the future.

Return to Makers of Canada Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.