Series GR-3587 - Nelson water district records

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Nelson water district records

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  • textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the records.

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Dates of creation area


  • 1897-1966 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

32 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

The Water Rights Branch was established in 1909. Its name was changed to Water Management Branch in 1979.

The Water Rights Branch reported to the following departments and ministries: Dept. of Lands (1909-1945), Dept. of Lands and Forests (1945-1962), Dept. of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (1962-1975), Dept of Environment (1975-1976), Ministry of the Environment (1976-1978) and Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1978-1979).

The Dept. of Lands was established in 1908 (Department of Lands Act, SBC 1908, c. 31). Before 1908 the agencies responsible for the functions of the Dept. of Lands: (1) the Dept. of Lands and Works (Crown lands management, sales, pre-emptions and leases, lands surveying and mapping, timber inspection, forest protection and log scaling), and (2) the Dept. of Mines (water rights in regards to mining operations).

The Dept. of Lands, headed by the Chief Commissioner of Lands, was given responsibility for public lands and water rights, and all matters connected therewith. (SBC 1908, c. 31, s. 5). These responsibilities included: (1) the management of all public lands, as per the Land Act, (RSBC 1897, c. 113); (2) administration of water rights, as per the Water Clauses Consolidation Act, (RSBC 1897, c. 191) [in 1892 by means of the Water Privileges Act (SBC 1892, c. 47), the government had reserved to itself the right to manage all water resources in the province that were unreserved and un-appropriated as of April 23, 1892]; and (3) land settlement programs for returned soldiers.

In 1909, the enactment of the Water Act (SBC 1909, c. 48) resulted in the creation of the Water Rights Branch of the Dept. of Lands, under the management of the Chief Water Commissioner (re-named Comptroller of Water Rights in 1912). This legislation also resulted in the creation of Water Districts under the management of District Engineers, who would be responsible for management in the field of the Branch’s responsibilities.

In 1945, the Dept. of Lands was renamed the Dept. of Lands and Forests (Department of Lands Act Amendment Act, SBC 1945, c. 45).

Custodial history

Scope and content

The series consists of water grant registers and water licence registers. The records were created between 1897 and 1966 to record applications to use water. All records relate to the West Kootenay water region.

The series contains two subseries. The first subseries consists of water registers that were created between 1897 and 1908 following the passage of the 1897 Water Clauses Consolidation Act (SBC 1897, c. 45). This act assigned responsibility to gold commissioners to record water applications and licences and also outlined the process by which gold commissioners were to maintain a “book of record of water rights.”

This subseries contains four “record of water grants” volumes from 1897 to 1908 that were created by the gold commissioners from Nelson, Rossland and Kaslo. The commissioners used these books to create a certified copy of the licence for the applicant as well as to create an official government copy. There is also an 1897-1908 register that indexes the first two registers. Many of the register entries have written notations that list the date that a licence was cancelled.

The second subseries consists of water licence application registers created by the Nelson office of the Water Rights Branch. The 1909 Water Act (SBC 1909, c. 48) transferred the responsibility for the management of water licences to regional water commissioners. The post 1908 registers were created by the Nelson Water Commissioner and provide a list of approved water licences. The records are arranged chronologically and each application was assigned a sequential number.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Transferred to the BC Archives in 2016 by the Water Management section of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.


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Script of material

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Associated materials

The water licence registers from 1909-1966 refer to licences that have not yet been transferred to the archives. The ministry has custody of these records as part of accession 95-2074.

Related materials


No further accruals are expected.

General note

Accession number: 95-2019

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