Fonds RG22 - Attorney General fonds

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Attorney General fonds

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  • 1851-1974 (Creation)
    Prince Edward Island. Department of Justice and Attorney General

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7.63 m of textual records
235 photographs
5 plans

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Prince Edward Island. Department of Justice and Attorney General

Biographical history

An order-in-council dated 28 June 1769 authorized the establishment of a government on Prince Edward Island and provided for the following positions: a Governor, Chief Justice, Secretary and Registrar, Attorney-General, Clerk of the Crown and Coroner, Provost Marshal and Agent and Receiver of Quit Rents.

Generally, the office of Attorney General has been held by the Premier or a senior member of Cabinet, and, usually, by a lawyer elected to the Legislative Assembly which is stipulated in the provincial legislature. The duty of the Attorney General has been to provide legal advice to government and the Executive Council. The Attorney General has advised the Governor on matters of pardon from prisons, however the 1931 Ticket of Leave Act permitted the release of prisoners on order from the Executive Council.

An office of Solicitor General was included in the Cabinet, but was abolished in 1876 with the Public Departments Act (39 Vic., c10). The office of Attorney General has also been known as the Attorney and Advocate General and in more recent years as the Department of Justice and Attorney General and Department of Provincial Affairs and Attorney General.

For many years the Department consisted of the Attorney General, his secretary, a few jailers and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which took over provincial policing in 1932, under the direction of the Attorney General. The Attorney General himself, or the deputy or practising lawyers were hired as crown attorneys for court work.

In 1950, the Department of Justice included approximately 15 employees including prothonotaries, sheriffs and stenographers. A deputy minister was first appointed in 1950. The Deputy Attorney General and or the Assistant Deputy Attorney General has taken on more duties including responsibility for the administration of justice in the province, legal advisor to government and departments, making recommendations to Attorney General on legal matters, preparation of legislation including drafting and indexing provincial statutes and regulations, interpretation of legislation, advising Attorney General, Crown Prosecutor and police on matters of prosecutions and enforcement of the law, attendance in courts, researching legal matters, conferences and consultations with other provinces and individuals on legal matters.

The ministry of the Attorney-General was renamed the Department of Justice in 1970. In 1971, the Department was reorganized and restructured under a new Deputy Minister in 6 divisions: administration (Deputy Minister), law enforcement (Officer Commanding R.C.M.P.), judicial (Prothonotary of the Supreme Court and Chief Judicial Officer), corrections, probation and family court services, and legislation.

In 1993, the Public Departments Act renamed the Department of Justice and Attorney General, the Department of Provincial Affairs and Attorney General.

Individuals who have served as Attorney General include: Phillips Callbeck, Joseph Aplin, John Wentworth, Peter Macgowan, Charles Stewart, William Johnston, Robert Hodgson, Charles Young, James Bardin Palmer, Edward Palmer, Joseph Hensley, Frederick Brecken, Dennis O'M. Reddin, L.H. Davies, W.W. Sullivan, Donald A. MacKinnon, Frederick Peters, J.A. Mathieson, F.L. Haszard, J.H. Palmer (acting), Arthur Peters, A.C. Saunders, Aubin E. Arsenault, J.D. Stewart, Thane A. Campbell, H.Francis MacPhee, Frederic A. Large, Walter E. Darby, M.A. Farmer, J. Elmer Blanchard, R.R. Bell, Melvin McQuaid, Gordon L. Bennett (Minister of Justice and Attorney General), Alexander B. Campbell, Horace B. Carver, George R. McMahon, Wayne Cheverie, Joseph A. Ghiz, Walter MacEwen, and Alan Buchanan.
Deputy Attorneys General have included: John Allen, J. Arthur McGuigan, Wendall MacKay (Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Deputy Minister of Justice).

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of records of the Attorney General and later of the Department of Justice and Attorney General and spans the years 1851 to 1974. Included in the fonds are legal documents such as performance bonds, preliminary hearings of cases of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island and inquests. The fonds includes correspondence and subject files of the Attorneys General and the Department of Justice and Attorney General which consist of correspondence with the general public, other government departments, other provinces and institions and organizations, circulars, reports of investigations, conference papers, annual reports, statistical returns and some photographs and plans. Also included are statements and returns of arrests by the Prohibition Commission and some lists of prison inmates, preliminary hearings of court cases and notes and correspondence concerning these cases, and files of the P.E.I. Provincial Police force. The Attorney General fonds is divided into the following series: performance bonds, attorney general files, coroners' records, preliminary hearings, Prince Edward Island Provincial Police files, Prohibition Commission enforcement branch statements, Royal Canadian Mounted Police reports, correspondence and subject files, and criminal statistics.

Notes area


Language of material

  • English

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Some materials are in French

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Restrictions on access

Records in Series 7: R.C.M.P. reports are confidential and are RESTRICTED, and records in Series 8: Correspondence and subject files, deemed to contain personal information, are confidential and are RESTRICTED to the public

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Associated materials

See also: Acc2552/40 and 41, Commissions to Robert Hodgson to be Attorney General dated 19 May 1828 and 18 May 1829; Acc2514/9, communication and report of the Attorney General regarding education and teachers dated 1865; Acc2849, various items regarding the Palmer family and their connections with public offices including Attorney General; Acc2918/18, commission of Edward Palmer as Attorney General dated 1854; RG5/Series8 Memoranda of the Executive Council (1898-1922) which includes a general subject section pertaining to Justice and items specifically referring to the office of Attorney General; The government of Prince Edward Island by Frank MacKinnon (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951) references to Attorney General of PEI and the Department of the Attorney General

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General note

Located in Hon. George Coles Building basement storage, Bays # 29 and 30. Oversize maps and photographs are in map cabinets. Duplicate photographs are in photograph binders in Reading Room

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  • English

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