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P. C. 6175*





WHEREAS the Secretary of State reports that, at the request of the Prime Minister he has convened an informal Advisory Committee on Public Records to give consideration to methods for providing adequate conservation of the public records, with particular reference to those records relating to the wartime activities of the government; and

That, following investigation of the state of the public records, a report has been prepared and considered by the Committee and certain recommendations resulting therefrom approved;

NOW, THEREFORE, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Secretary of State, is pleased to order and doth hereby order as follows:

  1. There shall be a Committee on Public Records under the Chairmanship of the Secretary of State and consisting of the following officials:--
    A representative to be named by the Secretary of State (Public Archives).
    Two representatives to be named by the Minister of National Defence (Army and Naval Services).
    A representative to be named by the Minister of National Defence--Air.
    A representative to be named by the Minister of Public Works.
    A representative to be named by the Minister of Finance.
    A representative to be named by the Minister of Munitions and Supply and the Minister of Reconstruction.
    A representative to be named by the Minister of Labour.
    A representative to be named by the Secretary of State for External Affairs.
    A Secretary shall be provided from the Privy Council Office.
  2. The Canadian Historical Association shall be asked to recommend two professional historians to act in an advisory capacity to the Committee to serve at no salary but with expenses to be provided by the Government.
  3. The duties of the Committee shall be to keep under constant review the state of the public records and to consider, advise and concert with departments and agencies of government on the organization, care, housing and destruction of public records.
  4. The Committee shall, as part of their duties, examine and report on the following:

    (a) The preparation by departments and agencies of Government of suitable accounts of their wartime activities and,


    (b) The implementing of the approved recommendations of the Royal Commission on Public Records of 1914 regarding establishment of a public records office, with particular reference to the integration of the Public Archives therein, and the type of organization which would facilitate the best use of the public records.

  1. When questions specifically affecting the records of a department are being dealt with, a representative from that department shall be present at the meeting.
  2. The primary responsibility for the care and maintenance of records and for seeing that the policies of government in respect to disposition of public records be carried out so as to ensure that material of permanent value be not unwittingly destroyed will rest with departments and agencies of government concerned.
  3. Each department shall assign responsibility for superintendence of its records to one or more senior officers, preferably the departmental secretary if such a position exists, or an official of similar rank. The duties of these officers will be to review periodically the state of the departmental records and to reclassify them with a view to disposal or transfer of those of permanent value but not currently required to the Public Archives (or Public Records Office, if established) or to other dominion or provincial departments, or by some form of destruction under existing regulations. These officers will also maintain liaison with agencies responsible to the Minister. Recommendations respecting contemplated disposal along the above lines shall be submitted, in all cases, for formal approval of the Committee on Public Records.

A. D. P. Heeney,
Clerk of the Privy Council.



Memorandum to all Departments and Agencies


This circular supersedes the Public Records Committee Circular of March 9th, 1946 on Disposal of Public Records.

The following revised procedures have been approved by the Public Records Committee and by Treasury Board:

  1. Recommendations for all disposal of public records will be submitted to the Public Records Committee as from the deputy head of the department or head of the agency concerned and will be examined from an overall records standpoint. Where disposal by destruction is contemplated, a copy of the submission will be made to Treasury Board at the same time for clearance with the Auditor General and Comptroller of the Treasury.
    If the destruction in whole or in part is approved, the Committee will recommend accordingly to Treasury Board, who, if satisfied from the financial aspect, will issue an appropriate Treasury Board minute authorizing destruction; in other cases, departments and agencies will be advised of the decision


    of the Committee and implementation will not require a Treasury Board minute.
  1. Recommendations to the Committee should be accompanied by a list of the files or records in question, together with covering dates, and such other relevant information as may be appropriate.
  2. Where authority for destruction of certain classes of records is covered by existing Treasury Board minutes, (T.160481B, of June 2, 1936 and subsequent amendments), or, for records held outside Ottawa, by King's Regulations and Orders for the three Services, procedures in accordance with the Treasury Board minutes or K. R. & O., will continue for the time being without necessity of reference to the Committee.
  3. In respect to the destruction of duplicates within a department or agency, this will be done normally, without reference to the Committee, on the authority of the deputy head of the department or head of the agency concerned, provided that such officials are satisfied that the original is being retained in the public records.
    There are, however, certain cases, especially in branch offices, where the duplicate is an official document, and other cases where a duplicate is, in fact, treated departmentally as a duplicate original. Automatic destruction of duplicates will, therefore, be conditioned by the following reservations:
    (a) That in any cases in which it is necessary for audit purposes to compare the original of a document or record with the duplicate, the later item will not be destroyed prior to having served its purpose as an audit medium; and,
    (b) that all financial duplicates which are treated as official documents in branch offices or departmentally as duplicate originals will be retained for at least one year after the close of the transaction to which the duplicate relates.

It is important, in making recommendations involving destruction of records, that full information be given as to the steps that have been taken to ensure adequate examination of the records in question and appropriate consultation there within the department or agency.

W. E. D. Halliday,
Public Records Committee

Privy Council Office,
February 11, 1947.

* From: Canada. Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences. Report. Ottawa : King's Printer, 1951. By permission of the Privy Council Office.

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