British Columbia (Colony). Lands and Works Dept.

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

British Columbia (Colony). Lands and Works Dept.

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Other form(s) of name

  • Lands and Works Department

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Description area

Dates of existence



The Lands and Works Dept. of the Colony of British Columbia was established in 1859 when Colonel Richard Clement Moody, commanding officer of the Royal Engineers, was sworn in as Chief Commissioner and Surveyor-General for the Colony of British Columbia. Prior to 1858, the territories of the new colony, known then as New Caledonia, were under grant to the Hudson’s Bay Company. Moody and the Royal Engineers were sent to the lower Fraser Valley by the Colonial Office in England to provide a military presence in the new colony, and also to survey land for settlement and to provide engineering expertise and manpower for the building of roads and bridges. In 1863, the Colonial Office implemented constitutional changes to the Colony of British Columbia to encourage more settlement and a representative government. The contingent of Royal Engineers was disbanded and Chartres Brew, Chief Inspector of Police for the colony, was designated as Acting Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works until Joseph Trutch was appointed to the position of Surveyor-General in 1864. From 1864 to 1871, the Surveyor-General was an elected official who also held the title of Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and was a member of the Executive Council. Trutch continued the job Moody had started, with a personal emphasis on Crown lands and aboriginal claims. Trutch was the Surveyor-General when British Columbia joined confederation in 1871, at which time he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new province. Most of the colonial officials remained in their positions, under his authority, until an election was held in November and a new government was sworn in. During this transitional period, first Peter O’Reilly and then Benjamin Pearse, served as Acting Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and Surveyor-General. After the election, 1871, Henry Holbrook was appointed the Acting Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and Surveyor-General in the first ministry. A few months later, George A. B. Walkem took over as the first Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and Surveyor-General in the new Dept. of Lands and Works.


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British Columbia. Dept. of Lands and Works (1871-1908)

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Michael Carter 2008-07-28




Central Name Authority File

Maintenance notes

Created by: Michael Carter
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