Series GR-0441 - Premier's records

File 60, Oriental ownership of B.C. lands and oriental exclusion File 0-4-G Oriental Exclusion

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Premier's records

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  • 1883-1887, 1895-1933; predominantly 1883-1887, 1895-1933 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Premier

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Originals, 1883-1887, 1895-1933, 46 m

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Biographical history

The Premier is the first minister of the government. In this role, the Premier makes recommendations to the Lieutenant-Governor for the selection and dismissal of ministers of government, and for the dissolution of the legislature. The Premier also signs orders-in-council, and presides over meetings of the Executive Council. The Lieutenant-Governor usually selects the Premier from the leader of the party holding the largest number of seats, or the party most able to form a government. In British Columbia, the office was established in 1871; when the province joined Confederation. However, it was not until 1921, when the office was first named in the Constitution Act (SBC 1921, c. 12). Since 1933, the Premier has also served as the President of the Executive Council. This was formalized in the Constitution Act in 1973 (SBC 1973 c. 20).

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Scope and content

The duties and powers of the Premier of British Columbia devolve from the practices and traditions of British parliamentary government, and are nowhere clearly defined. Indeed, the Constitution Act of 1871 and its revisions make no mention of the office of Premier. The Premier is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, and then recommends to the Lieutenant Governor the appointment of other officers of the executive council, who serve at pleasure. The Premier is the chief officer of the executive council, and presides at meetings of the council. The records in this unit consist primarily of correspondence, memoranda and indexes created and accumulated during the administrations of Premiers Smithe, Turner, Semlin, Martin, Dunsmuir, Prior, McBride, Bowser, Brewster, Oliver, MacLean and Tolmie (1893-1933). They also include a series of diaries of Premier Oliver, 1917-1927, scrapbooks, 1905-1941, and official addresses, programs and special items, 1951-1971. Note that the records are not complete. There are, most notably, no records for A.E.B Davie, Theodore Davie or John Robson (1887-1895), but there are also records lacking for other administrations. The records are broken down into fifteen series on the basis of the type and/or filing system of the documents. A change in government did not always result in a break in a series of records, with the result that several series span more than one administration. The fifteen series are listed below. See each series description for more information about content. SERIES I: Indexes and registers to correspondence inward 1895-1933 SERIES II: Official correspondence 1883-1915 SERIES III: Semi-official correspondence, 1907-1910 SERIES IV: Private correspondence, 1903-1915 SERIES V: Subject files, 1902-1915 SERIES VI: Correspondence 1915-1929 SERIES VII: Official correspondence, 1930-1933 SERIES VIII: Memoranda, 1917-1925 SERIES IX: Letterbooks (official), 1883-1916 SERIES X: Letterbooks (semi-official), 1907-1911 SERIES XI: Letterbooks (private), 1885-1904 Series XII: Letterbooks (personal), 1903 SERIES XIII: Diaries, 1917 - 1927 SERIES XIV: Clippings books, 1905-1941 SERIES XV: Official addresses, programs and special items Premiers 1883-1933 William SMITHE: 29 Jan 1883 - 28 Mar 1887 Alexander Edmund Batson DAVIE: 1 Apr 1887 - 1 Aug 1889 John ROBSON: 2 Aug 1889 - 29 Jun 1892 Theodore DAVIE: 2 Jul 1892 - 2 Mar 1895 John Herbert TURNER: 4 Mar 1895 - 8 Aug 1898 Charles Augustus SEMLIN: 15 Aug 1898 - 27 Feb 1900 Joseph MARTIN: 28 Feb 1900 - 14 Jun 1900 James DUNSMUIR: 15 Jun 1900 - 21 Nov 1902 Edward Gawler PRIOR: 21 Nov 1902 - 1 Jun 1903 Richard MCBRIDE: 1 Jun 1903 - 15 Dec 1915 William John BOWSER: 15 Dec 1915 - 23 Nov 1916 Harlan Carey BREWSTER: 23 Nov 1916 - 1 Mar 1918 John OLIVER: 6 Mar 1918 - 17 Aug 1927 John Duncan MACLEAN: 20 Aug 1927 - 20 Aug 1928 For more information about the various administrations see: British Columbia Executive Council Appointments, 1871-1986 (British Columbia Legislative Library, 1989)

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The records in this unit were kept on file in the Premier's vault in the Legislative Buildings, and subsequently transferred directly to the British Columbia Archives at various dates.


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Restrictions on access

These records are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or other acts and access may be restricted. Please contact the BC Archives to determine the access status of these records.

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Finding aids

Finding aid: shelf list, appendix and contemporary indexes and registers.

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Accession number(s): GR-0441

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