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Description found in Archives
Place of creation
No place, unknown, or undetermined
161 microfilm reels
370 architectural drawings
Added language of material: French
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Department of Trade and Commerce and its predecessors. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description.
Copyright belongs to the Crown. Credit Library and Archives Canada.
Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the NA website). (Other)
Biography / Administrative history
The Department of Trade and Commerce bill was originally introduced in parliament in 1887 (although the Trade and Commerce Act, 50-51 Vict. Chap.10 was not actually proclaimed until 3 December 1892) by which the new department was mandated to `develop and maintain everything connected with our (Canada's) trade and commerce, whether it be home or foreign trade'. The department was originally charged with developing close links with Canadian domestic industry, protecting the domestic consumer from exploitation (through the administration of the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act in 1938), supervising the evolution and expansion of foreign trade through development of a foreign commercial service (the first six part-time commercial agents were appointed to the Caribbean in 1891), as well as, the creation of international trade agreements, negotiation and supervision of steamship subsidies and Chinese immigration, and eventually the administration of the Act concerned with standards among Canadian products moving in trade (notably wheat) in 1901. Throughout its' history the department had responsibility for numerous promotional tasks such as trade fairs and exhibitions (under the Canadian Exhibition Commission in 1927), advertising (under the Director of Publicity in 1928), posters and films (1917), as well as, the fostering of such internal entities as Statistics Canada (under T&C in 1912), the National Research Council (until 1924), the National Film Board (created in 1939 under 3 GEO. VI Chap.20) and the Commercial Intelligence Service, many of which eventually went their own independent course. For varying lengths of time the department was responsible for the administration of a variety of related food and commercial Acts of the government including the Adulteration Act, the Commercial Feeding Stuffs Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Proprietary or Patent Medicine Act, the Trade Mark and Design Act, the Timber Marking Act, the Patents and Copyright Acts, the Weights and Measures Act, the Electricity Inspection Act, the Gas Inspection Act, the Electricity and Fluid Exportation Act and the Canadian Trade Commission.
Throughout the Second World War numerous organizational changes took place in the department to accommodate Canada's participation in the allied war effort. On 1 Oct. 1940 the Commercial Relations Division was established to deal with commercial agreements and trade problems arising from the war. As an extension of the wartime organization the Export Permit Branch, the Shipping Priorities Committee, the Steamship Subsidies War Stabilization Fund, the Export Planning Division and the precursor of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the Canadian Export Board were also created under the authority of the Minister of Trade and Commerce between 1941 and 1944. In 1945 area desks were established within the Commercial Intelligence Service, which was subsequently renamed the Foreign Trade Service. The Canadian Travel Bureau was also transferred to departmental control to produce tourist promotional films and renamed the Canadian Government Travel Bureau in 1947.
On 30 December 1947 Canada became a signatory of the Protocol for Provisional Application of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which was designed to provide scheduled tariff concessions, and exchange of most favoured nation treatment among the participants and regulations for the conduct of international trade among the members.
On 8 December 1948 most of the on-going branches on the Department of Reconstruction and Supply including the Economic Research Board, Steel Control, Timber Control, Priorities Branch, Contract Settlement Board, Real Estate Board and the Emergency Control Branch were incorporated into Trade and Commerce. Additional changes in this period included the creation of the Commodities Branch to administer the import side of Canadian trade, the Agricultural Commodities Branch to coordinate producers, traders and commercial representatives in the agricultural areas and the International Economic and Technical Cooperation Division to administer Canada's participation in the Colombo Plan and succeeding development aid programmes. Subsequent restructuring and amalgamation within the department throughout the decade of the 1950's was intended to streamline the process of conducting Canada's international trade and to create an administrative organization better able to deal with Canada's expanding role in international affairs and commerce. Various on-going reorganization in the early 1960's saw the renaming of the Industrial Promotion Branch, the Trade Fairs and Missions Branch, the Trade Services Branch (soon changed to the Transportation and Trade Services Branch) and the Office of Trade Relations to better reflect the actual work of the internal administrative structure of the rapidly evolving department. On 1 January 1967 the Department of Trade and Commerce once again underwent a major restructuring to form two principal branches; the Trade Policy Branch and the Trade Promotion Branch with an independent Office of Tourism also established. This was to be the last major restructuring of the old Department as the government decided on 1 April 1969 to amalgamate the functions and mandates of the departments of Trade and Commerce and Industry to form the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce under 17 Eliz. II, Chap. 28).
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