Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada

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Nova Scotia House of Assembly ~ Petitions and Correspondence, 1758-1850

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Archival Description

Nova Scotia House of Assembly fonds


128.5 m of textual records

In 1758 Governor Charles Lawrence was ordered by London to organize the election for a House of Assembly. The first in Canada, the Nova Scotia House of Assembly convened on 2 October 1758 in the law courts at Halifax. From 1758 to 1928 the assembly was the lower house of a bicameral legislature, whose position was entrenched in the Constitution Act, 1867. Since the achievement of "responsible" (party) government in 1848, the party holding the largest number of seats in the assembly forms the government of the province. It is customary that members of the Executive Council (Cabinet) be drawn from the governing party in the House of Assembly. The work of the assembly is to enact the statute law of the province, both public and private.

Fonds consists of: Correspondence and other material; Revised statutes; Documents selected by the Records Commissioner; Select Committee on Trade Negotiations records; Bills; Committee lists; Committee on Public Accounts proceedings; Clerk of the House records; Journals; Minutes; Motions, orders-of-the-day and House orders; Assembly petitions; Written questions; Documents tabled; Election records; Unpassed bills; and Statutes.

Title based on contents of fonds.

Series descriptions available.

Retrieval Code:
RG 5


Correspondence and other material


2.4 m of textual records

Series forms part of Nova Scotia House of Assembly fonds and consists of correspondence between the House of Assembly and the governor or lieutenant governor. Series also includes petitions, memorials, decisions of the House regarding petitions, resolutions of the House, reports to the House from committees and minor government officials, registers of attendance of MLAs, drafts of acts, addresses and speeches, rough copies of proceedings, and estimates of expenses. Volume 22 contains various undated reports, petitions, drafts of acts, and civil lists. Series arranged chronologically by the Public Archives of Nova Scotia about 1936 using the remnants of House of Assembly records not previously arranged by the records commissioner. This arrangement was preparatory to the archives publication, Calendar of Official Correspondence and Legislative Papers, Nova Scotia, 1802-1815, which augmented the Public Archives of Canada's calendars of Nova Scotia State Papers (equivalent to Colonial Office Class 217, Public Record Office).

Series formerly known as Assembly papers.

Title based on contents of series.

Volumes 1 to 7 are available.

Some records are published in the Journals and Proceedings of the House of Assembly.

Retrieval Code:
RG 5 , Series A, Vols. 1-22. Use microfilm: reels 15579-15598

Commissioner of Public Records collection

1702-1917, predominant 1857-1886

34.5 m of textual records

The office of Commissioner of Public Records, responsible for "examining, preserving and arranging ancient records and documents illustrative of the history and progress of society in this Province" was created by Lieutenant-Governor Sir Gaspard Le Marchant on 29 May 1857. The office lapsed on the death of its first and only incumbent, Thomas Beamish Akins, in 1891. In May 1899 Premier G.H. Murray, in his capacity as Provincial Secretary, responsible for preserving "the archives, registers and records of the Government and Province...," appointed the curator of the Provincial Museum, Harry Piers, deputy keeper of the public records, in indirect succession to Akins. The post of deputy keeper endured until February 1931, when it was superseded by that of archivist of Nova Scotia (Provincial Archivist).

The Commissioner of Public Records collection was in the custody of the curator of the provincial museum (as deputy keeper of the public records) until the appointment of D.C. Harvey as provincial archivist in 1931, after which it was transferred to the Public Archives.

Collection consists of Nova Scotia colonial government records, together with British and French imperial records relating to Nova Scotia, and comprises one continuous sequence of numbered volumes. Collection consists of: Transcripts of documents made at the Public Record Office in London relating to Nova Scotia or Acadia from the year 1624 to 1668...; French documents; Documents relating to Acadians; Government at Halifax; Minutes of His Majesty's Council; Journals of His Majesty's Council in their legislative capacity in general assembly convened; Miscellaneous documents; Selections from the files of the Legislative Council; Selections from the files of the House of Assembly; Papers of the Island of Cape Breton; Special subjects; Public accounts; Quit rents; River Saint John; City of Halifax; Refugee Negroes; Sable Island; Indians; Church of England school and glebe lands; King's College, Windsor; Schools and school lands; Militia; Census and poll tax; Railway and telegraph papers; Mines and minerals; Catalogues; Alphabetical, chronological index to crown grants of land, Nova Scotia, 1725-1768...; Judicial court records; Firewards and fire protection company records; Indexes to journals of the House of Assembly and other material.

Formerly known as: PANS Mss. Volumes.

Title based on contents of collection.

Includes originals, copies and finding aids.

Volumes organized by collector according to provenance, document type or subject.

Records primarily in English, but also in French, German and Mi'kmaq.

Available on microfilm.

Series descriptions available. For Volumes 1 through 25 see Documents relatifs ... l'histoire acadienne: Volume I, Inventaire analytique des 25 premiers volumes de RG1 aux Archives publiques de la Nouvelle-Ecosse (Fredericton, N.B., 1988), 468 p.

Records relating to the Commissioner of Public Records collection may be found in the Commissioner of Public Records fonds, Harry Piers fonds and Public Archives of Nova Scotia fonds.

One series, Maps and plans (Volumes 472-473) recorded missing in 1886; one of the two volumes recorded missing in 1877. Series consisted of two large volumes of maps and plans, chiefly of alterations in the main roads throughout Nova Scotia, 1835-1865. — Collection selectively published as T.B. Akins, ed., Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia (Halifax: Charles Annand, 1869), 755 p. — Further information may be found in the published Reports (including catalogues) of the Commissioner of Public Records, 1858-1886; James Hannay's unpublished reports on Nova Scotia provincial archives (MG 9 B7, National Archives of Canada); and Joseph Plimsoll Edwards, The Public Records of Nova Scotia: Their History and Present Condition (Halifax NS, 1920); see also B.C. Cuthbertson: "Thomas Beamish Akins: British North America's Pioneer Archivist," Acadiensis 7(1), Autumn 1977, pp. 86-102; and C. Bruce Fergusson, "T.B. Akins: A Centennial Commemoration," Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society 31 (1957), pp. 97-118.

Retrieval Code:
RG 1 - a complete volume listing is available.


Selections from the files of the House of Assembly


1.4 m of textual records (14 volumes)

Series forms part of Commissioner of Public Records collection and consists of documents selected from the records of the lower house of Nova Scotia's now unicameral legislature. Includes petitions, memorials, governor's speeches and addresses in reply, messages, resolutions, protests, reports, returns, estimates etc. relating to highways, and documents sent down from the Legislative Council.

Title supplied by collector.

Calendared in Volumes 299 and 300. Volumes 301 and 302 are available.

Related records may be found in the House of Assembly fonds (RG 5 series A).

See Margaret Ells, comp., A Calendar of Official Correspondence and Legislative Papers: Nova Scotia, 1802-1815 [Public Archives of Nova Scotia Publication No. 3] (Halifax, 1936).

Retrieval Code:
RG 1 vol. 301-314