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Description found in Archives

Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism fonds [textual record (some electronic), sound recording, moving images] 



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

45.1 m of textual records
28 data files
293 audio reels (ca. 150 h, 29 min)
2 film reels (ca. 34 min)

Added language of material: French

Scope and content

Fonds consists of submissions, transcripts of hearings and supporting documentation, research files and working papers, administrative files, newspaper clippings, minutes of meetings of the commissioners, draft reports of the commission, and related material. The fonds also includes data files (anonymized and originals) containing survey information produced for the royal commission through contracts with social science researchers. These records cover a wide variety of subjects including: bilingual positions, recruitment and translation services in federal government departments and agencies; the use of the French and English languages in the federal public service and in the public service of New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba; social and economic adjustment of Italians in Montreal and in Edmonton; and attitudes of French-speaking and English-speaking managers in large and small industries. Sound recordings and moving images can be found in the series entitled Audio-Visual material related to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism & Biculturalism.

Textual records: electronic
90: Open
Moving images (film)
90: Open
Sound recordings
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel C-4888
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel C-4884
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel C-4886
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel C-4885
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel C-4887
90: Open
Textual records
90: Open
from 1 to 222
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown. In order to protect the fragile originals, the microfilm copies of these records must be consulted rather than the originals.

Finding aid 33-71 is a typed file list. 33-71 (Paper)

Biography / Administrative history

The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism was established under Order in Council P.C. 1106, 19 July 1963, under Part I of the Inquiries Act (R.S.C., 1952, c.154) and on the recommendation of the prime minister. The Commission was mandated to inquire into into and report upon the existing state of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada and to recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian confederation on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding races, taking into account the contribution made by the other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada and the measures that should be taken to safeguard that contribution; and in particular: (1) to report upon the situation and practice of bilingualism within all branches and agencies of the federal administration - including Crown corporations - and in their communications with the public and to make recommendations designed to ensure the bilingual and basically bicultural character of the federal administration; (2) to report on the role of public and private organizations, including the mass communications media, in promoting bilingualism, better cultural relations and a more widespread appreciation of the basically bicultural character of our country and of the subsequent contribution made by the other cultures; and to recommend what should be done to improve that role; and (3) to discuss with the provincial governments the opportunities available to Canadians to learn the English and French languages and to recommend what could be done to enable Canadians to become bilingual. The commissioners were André Laurendeau and Arnold Davidson Dunton, Co-Chairman; Rev. Clément Cormier, Royce Frith, Jean-Louis Gagnon, Gertrude M. Laing, Jean Marchand, Jaroslav Bohdan Rudnyckyj, Frank Reginald Scott and Paul Wyczynski. On 22 November 1965, Paul Lacoste was appointed commissioner to replace Jean Marchand who had resigned on 21 September. On 8 October 1968, Jean-Louis Gagnon was appointed co-chairman and André Raynauld, commissioner, following the death of André Laurendeau on 1 June (Orders in Council P.C. 2074, 22 November 1965 and P.C. 1926, 8 October 1968). The secretaries Paul Lacoste and Neil M. Morrison.

In an editorial in Le Devoir of 20 January 1962, André Laurendeau called for a royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism. Laurendeau, who later became co-chairman of the royal commission, devoted his column to the question of "the participation of French Canadians in Confederation" and, in particular, in the federal civil service and related government agencies. The editorial, which suggested that an in-depth approach be taken to the problem, was very effective in arousing public interest. As Gérard Pelletier, a former journalist and Liberal Cabinet Minister, put it: Laurendeau "stated the problem clearly, persuasively, and calmly but without concealing the urgency of the action he recommended." The grievances cited by Laurendeau, along with those expressed by other French Canadians, who wanted among other things the cultural duality of Canada to be officially recognized, caused Lester B. Pearson to act. According to Patricia Smart, Pearson's motives were political:

"Then in opposition, the Liberals seized on the idea, partly as a means of recapturing the Quebec vote lost to Diefenbaker in 1957, but also because Liberal leader Lester B. Pearson and his advisors were convinced of the necessity of developing a new relationship with Quebec."

In the fall of 1962, Maurice Lamontagne, the Member of Parliament for Outremont - St. Jean, drafted a speech which Pearson delivered in the House of Commons on 17 December 1962. At that time, Pearson suggested that a comprehensive inquiry be undertaken, in consultation with the provinces, on the subject of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada. Pearson said in part:

"It is now clear to all of us, I think, that French-speaking Canadians are determined to become directors of their economic and cultural destiny in their own changed and changing society... they also ask for equal and full opportunity to participate in all federal government services, in which their own language will be fully recognized. This right flows from the equal partnership of confederation... This means, I believe, that we have now reached a stage when we should seriously and collectively in this country review the bicultural and bilingual situation in our country, our experiences in the teaching of English and French, and in the relations existing generally between our two founding racial groups. In this review there should also be, in my view, every opportunity and every encouragement for Canadians, individually or in their associations and organizations to express their ideas on this situation. If they find it unsatisfactory they should suggest concrete measures to meet it and to reach a better, more balanced participation of our two founding groups in our national affairs."

The reaction to Pearson's speech was generally favorable. Consequently, in April 1963, when the Liberals came to power, the appointment of a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism became a priority of the new administration. On 15 May, Prime Minister Pearson wrote to all the provincial premiers about the proposed terms of reference for the royal commission which were much wider than those suggested by Laurendeau. This was necessary because the inquiry would involve a study of education, which falls under provincial jurisdiction. Before these replies were made public, Lamontagne informed the House of Commons, on 12 June 1963, that a Cabinet committee had already been established to encourage bilingualism in the civil service. Then, on 10 July, the Prime Minister tabled in Parliament the letters he had exchanged with the provincial premiers about the proposed royal commission. Most premiers endorsed the terms of reference but the Premier of Alberta, E.C. Manning, had serious misgivings about them. Nonetheless, on 22 July, Pearson announced the appointment of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism with Davidson Dunton and André Laurendeau as co-chairmen.

According to one historian, John T. Saywell, the mandate for the commission of inquiry was very imprecise:

"The terms of reference were deceptive; indeed many observers felt them to be too narrow, pointing out that the dimensions of the problem transcended what seemed to be the narrow confines of a survey of Bilingualism and Biculturalism....The Commissioners felt they had been called upon to refashion the state, and not just its framework but its foundations. They made it clear in their first working paper that they were really less concerned with the narrow aspects of the Bilingualism and Biculturalism question than with the idea of equal partnership, which they described as the mainspring (l'idée-force) of the Commission and noted with some relish that (unlike even the Rowell-Sirois Commissioners) they were not even limited by the terms of the constitution" (See Gérard Pelletier, "The Kick-Off", Language and Society, Special Report on the 25th anniversary of the B and B Commission and the 20th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, Commission of Official Languages, Ottawa, Supply and Services Canada, 1989, Summer, 1989, p. R-9; John A. Munro and Alex I. Inglis, eds., Mike: The Memoirs of the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, Vol. 3 1957-1968, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975, pp. 67-69; John T. Saywell, "The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism", International Journal, Canadian Institute of International Affairs, Vol. XX, No. 3, Summer, 1965, pp. 378-382; and The Diary of André Laurendeau, written during the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, 1964-1967. Selected with an introduction by Patricia Smart. Translated by Patricia Smart and Dorothy Howard, Toronto, James Lorimer and Company, Publishers, 1991, pp. 1-11 and 18-29.

A preliminary hearing was held in Ottawa on 7-8 November 1963. Meetings were also held with the ten Provincial Premiers and the Ministers of Education from January to March 1964. In addition, regional meetings were held in twenty-three centres across Canada from 18 March to 16 June 1964. Finally, hearings of the commission were held in Moncton, Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver from 1 March 1965 to 16 December 1965. The commission received over 400 submissions. RG33-80 General Inventory

Additional information

The commission's Preliminary Report, dated 1 February 1965, was tabled in the House of Commons on 25 February 1965 as Sessional Paper no. 354, 1964-1965. The report was printed as: Preliminary Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Ottawa, Queen's Printer, 1965, 217 p.

Volume 1, dated 8 October 1967, was tabled in the House of Commons on 5 December 1967 as Sessional Paper no. 254, 1967-1968. The report was printed as: Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, General Introduction, Book I, The Official Languages, Ottawa, Queen's Printer, 1967, lii, 212 p.

Volume 2, dated 23 May 1968, was tabled in the House of Commons on 9 December 1968, Sessional Paper No. 257, 1968-1969. Printed as Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Book II: Education, Ottawa, Queen's Printer, 1968, xxii, 350 p.

Volumes 3A and 3B, dated 19 December 1969, were tabled in the House of Commons on 17 December 1969 as Sessional Paper No. 282-1/102, 1969-1970. They were printed as Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Book III: The Work World, Ottawa, Queen's Printer, 1969, 576 p.

Volume 4, dated 23 October 1969, was tabled in the House of Commons on 15 April 1970 as Sessional Paper No. 282-4/102A, 1969-1970. It was printed as Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Book IV: The Cultural Contribution of the Other Ethnic Groups, Ottawa, Queen's Printer, 1970, xxvi, 352 p.

Volume 5, dated 14 February 1970, was tabled in the House of Commons on 25 June 1970 as Sessional Paper No. 282-4/101B, 1969-1970. It was printed as: Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Book V: The Federal Capital; Book VI; Voluntary Associations, Ottawa, Queen's Printer, 1970, xv, 234 p.

According to Neil Morrison, who served as co-secretary of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, the commissioners planned to publish a volume on constitutional issues. Apparently, due to the death of André Laurendeau, it was not written.

Researchers may view a microfiche copy of this report by consulting finding aid 33-1, Henderson #380.

For more information about royal commissions, researchers should consult: Records of Federal Royal Commissions (RG 33) / James Murray Whalen. -- (General inventory series / Government Archives Division). -- Ottawa : National Archives of Canada, 1990).

(RG 30/80, Acc. nos. G0000001-G0000003; G0000005-G0000018; G0000025-G0000032; G0000301-G0000303; G0000305-G0000307; G0000309-G0000318; G000325-G000328; G000330-G000331; G0000343-G0000345).

Source of title
Order in Council PC 1106, 19 July 1963, under Part I of the Inquiries Act (R.S.C., 1952, c. 154) and on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

No further accruals are expected.

Related materials
See also: National Archives of Canada, Cartographic and Audio-Visual Archives Division, Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Cartographic and Architectural Sector. Hogg, J.M., Montreal Population, 1961: a study in four volumes undertaken by the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, under contract with the Department of Geography, McGill University, 1 September 1965. Atlas (4 v.) G1144. M6E1M3, 1965, fol. v.1-4. For a variant of map 152 in Volume II see J.M. Hogg. Italian proportional population 1961. H3/340, Montreal, 1961 (1965).

National Archives of Canada, Documentary Art and Photography Division. Accession 1971-107: Canada. Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Ninety-one photographs of individual members of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, 1970.

Foundation Lionel-Groulx, Centre de recherche Lionel-Groulx, Outremont, Quebec, André Laurendeau Papers, 1963-1967, 10.6 m, reports, proceedings, resolutions and other material relating to the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission.

Also, over 180 published and unpublished research studies, including a number of essays, prepared for the royal commission are available in the National Archives Library. For a list of them, which includes catalogue numbers, see finding aid 33/71, part 9. Moreover, about 125 of these research studies were microfilmed by the Canadian Library Association. Several institutions have obtained sets of this film, including the National Library of Canada which holds these, and other research studies of the commission both in printed and typescript form.

See also: Bilingualism and Biculturalism: An Abridged Version of the Royal Commission Report, Hugh R. Innis, ed., Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1973. (Published in cooperation with the Secretary of State and Information Canada).

Availability of other formats note
See reels C-4884 to C-4888 for microfilmed copies of records in this series. Researchers may view microfilm in the Reading Room.


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1970-0012 MISA
2. 1971-0011 MISA
3. 1971-0037 MISA
4. 1971-107 NPC
5. 1972-068 NPC
6. 1973-0139 MISA
7. 1974-75/039 GAD
8. 1982-83/125 GAD
9. 1984-85/089 GAD
10. 1996-97/001 GAD
11. 1996-01000-X
12. 2003-02501-4
13. 2005-00899-0
14. RG33
15. RG33-80