Fonds RG2 - Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island fonds

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Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island fonds

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  • 1789-1893 (Creation)
    Prince Edward Island. Legislative Council

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6.34 m of textual records

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Prince Edward Island. Legislative Council

Biographical history

As part of Governor Walter Patterson's instructions of 1769, a seven member Council was established to advise the Governor on matters of administration. When the first Assembly was called in 1773, the Council acted as both an Executive Council when fulfilling its advisory role, and as a Legislative Council when dealing with legislative matters. The Chief Justice acted as president of the Legislative Council. Because of the small population in Prince Edward Island, it was difficult to find enough qualified individuals to serve and meet a quorum. Early Colonial government in Prince Edward Island was overrun with nepotism, in-fighting and incompetence. The Executive and Legislative Councils were separated in 1838 at which time the Chief Justice and the Bishop of Nova Scotia were excluded from membership of either Council. Both the Legislative and Executive Councils were appointed and members were to be from all parts of the Island so as to represent interests of the whole population, not just Charlottetown residents. These changes helped to increase the effectiveness of the Executive Council and increase the importance of the Legislative Assembly. It also helped to lessen the power of influence of a few families over the government. Some overlapping of membership in the three bodies still occurred. The Assembly petitioned the Queen in 1840 to establish responsible government in Prince Edward Island. The Assembly did not have confidence in the Executive or Legislative Councils, whose members were appointed during pleasure which often translated into life appointments to individuals with vested interests and did not represent the interests of the population. Responsible or self government was granted in 1851 in Prince Edward Island although it was several years before the system was entirely integrated and the Councils adjusted to their new roles. After the passing of legislation in 1861, members of the Legislative Council were elected, no longer appointed. Members were elected in 13 electoral districts along with members of the House of Assembly, thus giving a Councillor and an Assemblyman representing each of the districts. Those eligible to sit or vote for a Councillor had to be of at least 30 years of age, a resident of P.E.I. for five years and be legally possessed of freehold or leasehold property of the value of 600 pounds.

In 1893, an act respecting the legislature was passed which abolished the Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island. The one house of government was then renamed the Legislative Assembly although two members were elected from each of the fifteen electoral districts and were known as Councillors and Assemblymen -- one from each district.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists records pertaining to the Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island. Included in the fonds are Journals of the Legislative Council which span the years 1817 through 1893, and record the meetings and some of the discussions of the Legislative Council members, Council orders, committee reports, and speeches from the throne on the opening of the Legislative Assembly. Documents pertaining to elections of members to the Legislative Council form a series of this fonds and include writs calling for elections, lists of electors eligible to vote for Councillors, and poll books which record candidates' and voters names and votes cast. These records are for various years and various polling and electoral districts. Some miscellaneous items pertaining to elections and appointments to the Legislative Council are included in the election series. The fonds includes a Legislative Council order book for the period 1839 to 1854, which is an agenda of sorts, recording petitions read and discussed in Legislative Council, as well as bills and other matters of discussion slated for debate by members. Also included in the fonds is a series of the debates and proceedings of the Legislative Council which are detailed notes of the discussions of the Council members concerning, largely, legislation of the Province. Also included in the fonds is a series of petitions dated 1879 received from individuals or parties directed to the Legislative Council regarding public buildings and services. A miscellaneous series includes such documents as some early appointments, extracts from Executive Council minutes, Legislative Council journals, an address to the Queen re the 1818 Treaty and some telegrams (1872-1873) from the Legislative Council regarding administrative matters.

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  • English

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See also: Frank MacKinnon's The government of Prince Edward Island (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951); Colonial Office records, CO229, which include Legislative Council journals; and Legislative Council heading in general Subject Index

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General note

The Legislative Council was also known as the Upper House

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  • English

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