ARST 530 (3) The History of the Canadian Administrative System

Previously ARST 530 (3) The History of Administration in the Canadian Juridical Context


MLIS students: Completion of the MLIS Core courses, plus permission of the instructor

MAS and Dual students: Completion of the “Term 1” MAS Core courses

GOAL: The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how over time Canadian public and private bodies have been established and how their organization and functioning have evolved in response to conditions in their juridical context.


Upon completion of the course students will:

  • Understand the main features of the Canadian legal system as they affect the establishment, organization and functioning of public and private bodies and influence records creation, maintenance, and preservation
  • Understand the broad lines of the historical evolution of federal, provincial, and local government in Canada
  • Understand how private bodies are established and function in the Canadian juridical system
  • Become proficient in locating and assessing published and archival sources for the study of the history of administration of public and private bodies
  • Understand the concepts employed in analyzing the historical evolution of public agencies and private corporate bodies for archival purposes
  • Have gained critical appreciation of researching and writing the history of administration from an archival perspective


  • Understanding the basics of Canadian juridical system: the British legal tradition, the constitutional basis of legislative and judicial authority; federalism and the division of legislative powers; statutory delegation of government powers; primary and subordinate legislation; legislation enabling the establishment of public agencies; the functions of agencies in the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government; the juridical situation of local government in Canada; the rule of law and general principles of administrative law; accountability in government
  • Colonial governance and administration in Canada
  • The broad trends of development of federal, provincial, and local government in Canada
  • Concepts of the analysis of administration: mission,   mandate (authority), structure, and functions of public agencies; competence of officers and offices; kinds of administrative change and their effects on record keeping; different kinds of public agencies and their roles and relationships in Canadian government
  • Sources of the history of Canadian public administration: statutes, annual reports of public bodies, other government publications, relevant literature in other scholarly disciplines, archival sources
  • Private corporate bodies: how they are established, how generally they are subject to laws in the juridical system; important kinds of administrative change that affect the creation, maintenance, and preservation of private bodies’ archives; sources for the study of the history of administration of private bodies
  • Illustrative examples of the history of administration of public agencies and private corporate bodies (through students’ presentations of their research)
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