Fonds RG11 - Department of Public Works fonds

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Title proper

Department of Public Works fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds

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  • 1825-1960 (Creation)
    Prince Edward Island. Department of Public Works

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Physical description

13.52 m of textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Prince Edward Island. Department of Public Works

Biographical history

The Department of Public Works was established in 1876. Its immediate predecessor was the Board of Public Works, set up in 1869 and composed of the Colonial Secretary, the Commissioner of Public Lands, and three other members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council. The Board supervised the erection of buildings, construction of roads, letting of public contracts, and the performance of statute labour. It was assisted by Superintendents of works in each of the three counties.

For some years prior to the establishment of the Board, corresponding with the establishment of representative government in 1851, there had been a Superintendent of Public Works. Presumably, it was the task of this official to coordinate the work being done in the numerous designated road districts, each with its own road commissioner, in the three counties. There was also, however, an official known as the Road Correspondent for several years before the Superintendent appeared and continuing through and beyond his tenure. Decisions regarding expenditures on public works for this time period were made by the Legislative Assembly in Committee.

Due to much criticism of the Board, owing to the opportunities for patronage provided by the statute which allowed members of the House to accept a position on the Board without relinguishing their seats, it was abolished and its functions placed under the charge of a Commissioner of Public Works who held a cabinet position.

The responsibilities of the department have remained virtually unchanged through the years although some areas of concern such as wharves and ferries have declined or disappeared. One of the largest areas of responsibility remains the construction of roads and bridges. Major enterprises in these areas are handled by private companies under contract to the Government. The department also continues to supervise all public buildings and properties.

Although the responsibilities of the department were fairly consistent throughout its history, the name of the department was not quite so stable. From its establishment in 1876 up until 1930, it went under Department of Public Works. Probably due to the large portion of business conducted on behalf of road construction and maintenance, the years 1931 to 1956 saw the department name change to the Department of Public Works and Highways, thus giving recognition to that fact. A more dramatic change took place in 1957 when the one department was divided into two, namely Department of Public Works and Department of Highways. The departments continued to function separately until 1972, when they returned to a combined Department of Public Works and Highways and remained that way until it separated once again from 1976 to 1980, during which years they ran under the names Department of Public Works and Department of Highways. From April of 1980 until March of 1982 the two departments were once again reunited to form the Department of Highways and Public Works. The final name change took place in April of 1982, to Department of Transportation and Public Works and remains under that name to date (March 1998).

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of a mixture of bound volumes and loose documents which record primarily the financial details of projects for which the department had responsibility. Although the major portion of the fonds is concerned with road construction and maintenance, some series also include information regarding bridges, wharves, ferries and public buildings. The records are arranged chronologically as a whole and also within each series. Some series are also subdivided geographically. The fonds is comprised of the following eighteen series: road ledgers, correspondence & letterbooks, road service daybooks, contracts & tenders, road service cash book, ledgers, journals, rent book, road inspectors returns, road tax ledger, invoices, voucher record books, highway construction accounts, appropriation ledger sheets, rental sheets, Prince County engineer ledger, miscellaneous, and Canada Highways Act.

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  • English

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  • English

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