Fonds RG5 - P.E.I. Executive Council fonds

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Title proper

P.E.I. Executive Council fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Sound recording

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

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  • 1770-2002 (Creation)
    Prince Edward Island. Executive Council

Physical description area

Physical description

19.2 m of textual record
53 reels of 35 mm microfilm
9 audio tapes

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Name of creator

Prince Edward Island. Executive Council

Biographical history

The government of Prince Edward Island was established on 28 June 1769 by an Order-in-Council indicating that the colony would be governed by a Governor, Council, and Supreme Court. An Assembly would be established later when warranted by circumstances. Initially the Council was an unpaid advisory group whose purpose was to assist the Governor in his administration. Members were appointed by the Governor and were chosen from among the principal inhabitants and landowners. Among their duties were advising and consenting on matters such as: summoning of assemblies, passage of bills, establishing of courts, building of fortifications and harbours, expenditure of public money and disposal of public land. As this group essentially constituted the government of the colony they addressed all the issues that came before the Governor, who was often petitioned by the citizenry, from the dispensing of land grants to the building of roads and other colonial infrastructure. When the first Assembly was summoned in 1773 the Council became the upper house of the legislature and from then was known as the Executive Council when acting in an advisory capacity and as the Legislative Council when it acted as a branch of the legislature. In 1784 its membership was reduced from twelve to nine of which a quorum was five. The early years of the government were marred by incompetence, nepotism and mismanagement. By the 1830s practically all the members of the councils were related - essentially constituting a family compact; a situation which precipitated the calls for reform. In 1839 the Legislative and Executive Councils became two distinct bodies to close the gap between the Assembly and the Executive. The Governor was to permit the members "freedom of debate and vote in all affairs of public concern". However, members were still appointed on a permanent basis and were not necessarily approved of by the elected members of the Assembly who could not count on them to represent the prevailing views of the House. With the onset of responsible government in 1853 the Council was composed of elected officials.

Currently the Executive Council consists of the Premier, who may be President of the Council, and not less than seven or more than ten other persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor on the advice of the Premier. The Council is responsible for the executive government of the province and the several departments. The Lt. Governor also appoints a Clerk of the Council to provide administrative services (a Clerk Assist may also be appointed). There is also a committee of the Council called Treasury Board to advise the Council on financial and organizational matters.

For more information on the history of the Council see The Government of Prince Edward Island by Frank MacKinnon (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951).

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the following series of textual and audio material:

Series 1 - Minutes and Orders-in-council
Series 2 - Oaths of Office and Allegiance
Series 3 - Agenda Books
Series 4 - Petitions
Series 5 - Warrants of Survey and Reports
Series 6 - Licenses of Occupation
Series 7 - Letter Books
Series 8 - Memoranda
Series 9 - Miscellaneous
Series 10 - Council of Maritime Premiers
Series 11 - Development Plan audiotapes

Notes area


Much of the pre-existing arrangement of the material has been maintained

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Originals of the post-1921 minute books and orders-in-council are retained in the Executive Council Office

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Associated materials

Acc2849, Palmer Family fonds; RG2, Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island fonds

RG15, Commissioner of Public Lands; RG16, Land Registry (the primary sources for land transaction information)

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  • English

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