Series GR-3616 - Oakalla case files

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Oakalla case files

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  • textual record

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  • 1941-1972 (Creation)

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20 cm textual records

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Biographical history

The Attorney-General’s Department was established in 1871 by authority of the Constitution Act of 1871 (SBC 1871, c. 147). Prior to that, from 1863 to 1866, the origins of the ministry were in the offices of the Attorney-General for the Colony of Vancouver Island and for the Colony of British Columbia. In 1866, the colonies united to form one colony, with one Attorney-General, who remained in place until British Columbia became a province of the Dominion of Canada in 1871. The Attorney-General was the official legal advisor of the Lieutenant-Governor and of the Executive Council. He was responsible for the settlement and approval of all documents issued under the public seal of the province and for the supervision of magistrates, police, and the constabulary.

In 1899, the department was reconstituted by the Attorney-General’s Act (SBC 1899, c. 5), which expanded the duties and powers of the Attorney-General to include: management and direction of correctional institutions, the British Columbia Police, and the administration of public affairs; provision of legislative and legal advice to the representative of the Crown and the heads of government departments; administration of justice within the Province; and regulation of all litigation for and against the Crown and public departments within the jurisdiction of the Legislature.

At various times several different agencies have been under the direction of the Attorney-General, such as the Industrial Schools for Boys and for Girls, Factories Inspection Branch, Electrical Energy Inspection Branch, Mothers’ Pension Board, Municipal Branch, Provincial Board of Health, Prohibition Commission, Public Utilities Commission, and Superintendent of Neglected Children. In most instances these agencies have later been placed under the management of other departments, absorbed into new organizations, or abolished altogether.

In 1976, the Dept. of the Attorney-General was renamed the Ministry of the Attorney General (OIC 3199/76).

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Biographical history

Opened on Sept 2, 1912 in Burnaby, B.C., on a site overlooking Deer Lake. The name referred to the Royal Oak neighbourhood in which it was located. A separate Women's Unit opened in 1940, renamed the Lakeside Correctional Centre for Women in 1975. Between 1919 and 1959, 44 hangings took place at Oakalla. Inmates worked on the farm until the 1970s, and manufactured car licence plates from the early 1930s until 1975. The name was changed officially to the Lower Mainland Regional Correctional Centre in 1970. Oakalla was chronically overcrowded, once holding 1,269 inmates. On June 30, 1991 the facility closed; the buildings were razed and the site became a housing development.

Custodial history

Although the records were created at Oakalla Prison, they were managed by the Department of the Attorney-General before being transferred to the Archives.

Scope and content

The series consists of punishment ledgers, correspondence, memos, and guidelines created at Oakalla Prison between 1941 and 1972. The records relate to the performance of both inmates and staff and the series includes several reference or review letters for prison employees. The punishment ledgers include the date of punishment, inmate name and number, age of inmate, number of previous infractions, nature of offense, by whom offense reported, sentence, date of sentence and any other remarks made by prison staff. The ledgers are arranged by date of infraction.

The series also consists of a number of memos and correspondence, some of which were written by inmates to the prison warden. The series also includes letters from the Inspector of Gaols to the Oakalla warden. This correspondence includes reports of incidents, escapes, hospitalizations, and conditions in the compound. The series also consists of one file detailing wartime conditions and blackout restrictions.

Records in the series are covered by ORCS 46020-08, 46020-20 and 59840-20 of the Corrections Branch records schedule (schedule 891849).

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Transferred from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor-General in October 2016.


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These records are restricted. Please contact the BC Archives for information about access

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General note

Accession number(s) : 95-4694

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