The series contains records pertaining to the care of indigents and destitute persons created by the Dept. of the Provincial Secretary between 1911 and 1925. Files consist of applications for relief, supporting documents from police constables and government agents, case files, administrative reports, and general correspondence. Reports on unemployment in specific communities in British Columbia, ca. 1911-1918 are also included.
Records created prior to 1923 were filed numerically and constituted a separate records series within the Provincial Secretary's office. Records created after 1923 were kept alphabetically, by name of applicant. Regrettably, contemporary registers and indices for these records have not survived.
Although it was "the duty of every city and district municipality to make suitable provision for its poor" [Municipal Act, RSBC 1911, c.170 s.526], the Department of the Provincial Secretary was largely responsible for the care of indigents and other destitute people in British Columbia. In fact, prior to the creation of the Department of Health and Welfare in 1946, the Provincial Secretary's office was often the only source of support for deserted wives and children, indigent widows and elderly persons, disabled workers and others in need of public welfare. The Provincial Secretary administered funds to such groups through charitable accounts, the Workmen's Compensation Board, the Provincial Board of Health, and other agencies. At the local level, relief payments were often distributed by Provincial Police constables or Government Agents.
British Columbia. Dept. of the Provincial Secretary