Fonds RG-11 - City of Edmonton. Office of the City Commissioners fonds

City Clerks and Administrative Records Financial Development and Planning Transportation Engineering Utilities Community Services Wartime External Organizations Orphaned Material
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

City of Edmonton. Office of the City Commissioners fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material - photograph
  • Architectural drawing
  • Cartographic material

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on name of creator.

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Physical description area

Physical description

86.92 m of textual records and other material

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Administrative history

From 1904 until 1983, the civic administration of the City of Edmonton was led by City Commissioners. Initially the Mayor served as the Head or Finance Commissioner, later assisted by one or more Commissioners, appointed for an indefinite period, who oversaw departments, signed contracts, hired and fired department heads and City employees and oversaw the spending of annual budgets as high as two hundred million dollars.

In 1904, when Edmonton was incorporated as a City, the newly formed City council adopted a commission system to oversee the running of the municipality. Prior to 1904, municipal administration was considered simple enough to be handled by the Town Councilors. However, due to the greater amount of time involved in the administration of the growing city and a desire for expertise in the management of public utilities, Mayor William Short advocated the creation of strong commissioners who, on good conduct, would be appointed for life. Thus, in 1904, Edmonton City Council invoked the Public Works Ordinance of 1900, which stipulated that the commissioner would have "all the powers, rights, authorities and immunities that might have been exercised or enjoyed by council" and that the council "shall have no authority in respect of such works."

To offset the complete control of civic affairs by appointed administrators, council decided to make the mayor, by virtue of his office, ex officio, one of the commissioners. Initially, the City of Edmonton appointed three commissioners, Mayor K. W. MacKenzie, who by virtue of his position sat as Chairman of the Commission Board, J. H. Hargreaves as the Commissioner for Public Works, and George J. Kinnaird as Commissioner of Finance. Over the years the number of commissioners would change (inclusive of the mayor) - ranging from a maximum of five in 1914 to a minimum of two from 1915-1919 and 1922-1934, but the responsibilities of the board remained the same, to oversee the administration of the rapidly growing city of Edmonton. From 1967 to 1983, the city also appointed a Chief Commissioner to oversee the actions of the board as the responsibilities of this position were deemed too time consuming for the mayor.

In 1972, largely because of the newly created Chief Commissioner, the mayor ceased sitting as the Chairman of the Commissioners Board. In 1976, Mayor Terry Cavanagh stopped attending Board meetings and the role of the mayor in the commissioners system effectively ceased to exist. In 1983, newly elected Mayor Laurence Decore, supported by council, eliminated the commissioners system and instead hired a city manager to oversee the city's civic administration.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of materials which were collected and created by the City's Commissioners through their function of overseeing all aspects of City administration. The fonds includes correspondence with City staff, provincial and federal representatives, other municipalities, corporations, community groups and the general public. It also contains reports and financial records relating to various departments, memoranda, committee minutes, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photos, maps, and architectural drawings.

An order has been imposed on the material. The arrangement includes 11 series and multiple subseries. The series are as follows:

  • Series 1: City Clerks and Administrative Records
  • Series 2: Financial
  • Series 3: Development and Planning
  • Series 4: Transportation
  • Series 5: Engineering
  • Series 6: Utilities
  • Series 7: Community Services
  • Series 8 : Wartime
  • Series 9: External Organizations
  • Series 10: Commissioners Reports
  • Series 11: Orphaned Material

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

This material was transferred to the City of Edmonton Archives between 1971 and 1985 directly from the Office of the City Commissioner and the Office of the City Manager.


The photographs have been assigned item numbers with the prefix EA-88.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright may apply.
Reproduction restrictions may apply.

Finding aids

Associated materials

Because of the City-wide scope of RG-11, all RG collections until the dissolution of the Commissioner system in 1983 are associated with RG-11.


Further accruals are expected.

General note

Accession numbers: A71-1, A73-52, A74-39, A74-73, A77-16, A81-74, A85-20, A92-100, A2018-37

Physical description

This fonds also includes 369 photos, 250 maps, and 163 architectural drawings.

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City of Edmonton Archives

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Rules for Archival Description (RAD)
Archives Society of Alberta Subject Terms



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