Copyright 1995 Martha Foote

The Canada Gazette 1

Martha Foote 2

ABSTRACT: This article traces the development of the Canada Gazette from its origins to the present day, linking its history with that of Canada. Special attention is paid to the legislation which has governed the Canada Gazette. Content, indexing, and some notes about the future of the Canada Gazette form the rest of the article.

RÉSUMÉ: Cet article retrace le développement de la Gazette du Canada depuis ses origines jusqu'à ce jour et l'enchaînement de son histoire avec celle du Canada. Une attention spéciale est portée à la législation qui a régi la Gazette du Canada. Le reste de l'article se concentre sur le contenu, l'indexation et quelques commentaires sur l'avenir de la Gazette du Canada.

The Canada Gazette is the official newspaper of the government of Canada. It has been published regularly by the Queen's Printer since 1841, although its antecedents can be traced back more than two centuries. In it are published new statutes and regulations, proposed regulations, decisions of administrative boards and an assortment of government notices which are required by statute to be published so as to disseminate this information to the public.

History of the Gazette

The earliest gazettes originated in Italy in the fifteenth century as newsletters which enjoyed wide circulation throughout Europe. The first gazette in England was the Oxford Gazette, which published its first issue on 16 November 1665. At this time the court of Charles II had moved to Oxford in order to escape the plague. Gazettes were published concurrently in London and Oxford, but when the court returned to London early in 1666 the Oxford edition ceased and the publication became known as the London Gazette, the name it has retained ever since. In addition to its reputation for accuracy and authoritativeness, its importance lies in its emergence as the first real newspaper in England. Prior to the establishment of the Oxford Gazette, news had been published in the form of a book or booklet. The Oxford Gazette was a two column half sheet printed on both sides, establishing a format for news publication which has continued, with some modifications, to the present day. Both the Oxford Gazette and the London Gazette were used by the government to communicate information to the public as well as to exercise control over the dissemination of news. The Gazettes were non-partisan and contained no editorial commentary, publishing instead foreign news and shipping reports.3

In addition to the London Gazette, which is now published each weekday, there are a number of other Commonwealth gazettes including the Belfast Gazette, the Edinburgh Gazette, the New Zealand Gazette, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette and the Canada Gazette. Each province and territory of Canada also publishes its own gazette.

History of the Canada Gazette


Upper and Lower Canada
The history of the Canada Gazette is interwoven with that of the nation and its forerunners date back to the early years of British rule in Canada. Following the establishment of the Province of Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1791, the Upper Canada Gazette was begun at the instigation of John Graves Simcoe, the newly-appointed Lieutenant-Governor. It was published for the first time on 18 April 1793 and continued until 1848 or 1849, the exact date of its demise being uncertain.4 Its status was semi-official in that the printers were appointed by the government and it published official notices; however, it also contained general news items and sometimes anti-government editorials. In the province of Lower Canada (now Quebec), the Quebec Gazette had begun publication in 1764. It, too, had semi-official status and continued until 1823, when it was replaced by the Quebec Official Gazette.

Province of Canada
The Union Act, 1840,5 which took effect on 10 February 1841, united Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada, with Upper Canada becoming Canada West and Lower Canada becoming Canada East. On Saturday, 2 October 1841, the Canada Gazette made its debut, being published "by authority". It became the official newspaper of the new government, enjoying a status which had not been held by the Upper Canada Gazette and only lately by the Quebec Gazette, both of which it was intended to replace. During its lifetime the government sat at different locations in the united provinces and for most of these twenty-six years the Canada Gazette was printed at the same place as the seat of government. The exception was in 1850 and 1851 when the government sat in Toronto while the Gazette continued to be published in Montreal.6 The first issue was very brief, running to only three pages, and contained a proclamation, two new Acts, an order in council and two government appointments. One of these appointments was that of Stewart Derbishire and George Desbarats7 as joint Queen's Printer and Law Printer in and for the Province of Canada.8

For the first couple of years the publication of new Acts was an important part of the Canada Gazette and the size of an issue was usually determined by the number and length of the statutes published therein. The content of the Gazette soon began to expand to include other types of information such as selected treaties of the British government, notices of Royal Assent, proclamations and regulations, financial statements of chartered banks, corporate notices, notices of bankruptcy and a variety of miscellaneous notices including the appointments of notaries and justices of the peace, admissions to the Law Society of Upper Canada, and appointment of Queen's Counsel. Not everything was strictly business; a notice dated 26 June 1847 announced that the wife of the Governor-General, the Countess of Elgin and Kincardine, would receive ladies at her residence from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays. The text of new Acts appeared only sporadically after the mid-1840's, although notices of proclamations remained an important component of the Canada Gazette.

The Canada Gazette's status was strengthened and confirmed in 1849 with the passage of An Act to provide for the insertion of certain official and legal notices in the Canada Gazette.9 This statute took effect on 1 October 1849. It substituted the Canada Gazette for the Upper Canada Gazette and the Quebec Gazette, both of which were still being published in spite of their diminished status. Section 1 of the Act speaks of the circulation of the two regional gazettes as "limited and local" and that of the Canada Gazette as "great and co-extensive".

Until 1843 the French-language content was almost negligible. This was slow to change, but gradually more and more of the Canada Gazette came to be printed in French, although the English section always preceded the French. In almost every instance the French version was a translation of the English. Volume numbering did not commence until January, 1853; until then there were only consecutive issue numbers. Extra issues, or "gazettes extraordinaire" were printed as required, for example, to announce the Royal Assent of new bills, the recall of Parliament, or the departure of the Governor-General. An index was published for the years 1841-1844 and there were annual indexes thereafter.

Post Confederation

On 1 July 1867 the Dominion of Canada was created by merging the two Canadas (now called Ontario and Quebec) with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Canada Gazette took note of Confederation: the issue dated 18 June 1867 printed a proclamation uniting the provinces, a list of new senators and a notice declaring 1 July 1867 as a "day of rejoicing". An "extra", dated 3 July 1867, published a list of appointments made on 1 July by the Governor- General, including the names of the members of the Queen's Privy Council of Canada, the Lieutenant-Governors of the four provinces, cabinet and other appointments. From now on the Canada Gazette would be printed at Ottawa, the capital of the new dominion.

Publication of Two Concurrent Canada Gazettes, 1867-1869
One result of Confederation was the concurrent publication, until 1869, of two Canada Gazettes. Both series were published weekly on Saturdays by Malcolm Cameron10 who had become Queen's Printer in 1863. The continuing series retained the volume numbering begun in 1841, while the new series commenced with volume one. To date the author has not been able to determine the reasons for the overlapping Canada Gazettes.

Individual issues of the new series were brief, with a strong English focus, publishing proclamations, parliamentary and government notices, and orders in council of a general nature. Material from London, such as notices from Downing Street and information about English schools, was also included. The continuing series had much larger issues with more detail and a definite, although not exclusive, focus on Quebec. It contained proclamations, notices of bankruptcy, sale of real estate, and corporation, government and parliamentary notices, the majority of which were concerned with Quebec. The rules of court for Quebec were also published here. Very occasionally the text of a new statute was published as a supplement.

The language issue did not die with the union of the Canadas. While the English content continued to be printed first, the French began to increase as more information was printed in both languages. Most government notices and proclamations were printed in English and French, but not all corporate, bankruptcy and miscellaneous notices. The practice was to translate items pertaining to Quebec, although this did not happen in every case.

Two years after Confederation, Parliament passed legislation concerning the Canada Gazette. An Act respecting the office of Queen's Printer and the Public Printing11 came into force on 1 October 1869 and dealt with the appointment, salary and duties of the Queen's Printer, one of which was the printing and publication of the Canada Gazette, "the Official Gazette of the Dominion" (s. 2). Section 3 specified the content of the Canada Gazette: "All Proclamations issued by the Governor or under the authority of the Governor in Council, and all official notices, advertisements and documents relating to the Dominion of Canada, or matters under the control of the Parliament thereof, and requiring publication, shall be published in the Canada Gazette, unless some other mode of publication thereof be required by law." Section 9 gave the Governor in Council the power to prescribe the "form, mode and condition of publication of the Canada Gazette". The Canada Gazette was governed by this Act (cited as the Public Printing and Stationery Act from 1906) until its repeal by the Government Organization Act, 1969,12 of which more will be said later.

Both series continued to publish until 30 October 1869 when the original series ended. The numbering sequence which began with the new series remained and has continued to the present day.

One Gazette, 1869-1947
The Canada Gazette continued to publish every Saturday throughout the first half of this century with very few changes. It affords an interesting glimpse into a Canada still very much under the British flag. The death of Queen Victoria in January, 1901 was mourned with black borders on each page of the issues dated from 23 January to 16 March 1901. An "extra" published on 30 January 1901 announced that court mourning would continue until 24 January 1902 and directed the public to wear deep mourning until 6 March 1901, and half mourning until 17 April 1901. Further, there would be no receptions at Government House in Ottawa until the cessation of court mourning the following year.

Hansard, 23 January 1901

Canada Gazette, 23 January 1901, announcing death of Queen Victoria

Following the creation of Part II in 1947 to publish the text of statutory instruments and regulations, this part of the Canada Gazette became Part I, publishing material of a general nature. It is still published every Saturday with the occasional extra issue as required. The habit of separating the English and French sections did not die out until 1970 when it was replaced by English and French text in parallel columns, thus making the Canada Gazette a completely bilingual publication.

Today's Canada Gazette Part I contains a mixture of government and parliamentary information. The following list sets out the more important types of data to be found therein:

Supplements are published as required to accommodate large items such as the monthly statement of assets and liabilities from the chartered banks, both domestic and foreign; statements of royalties from the Copyright Board; lists of federally registered insurance companies and fraternal benefit societies licensed to do business in Canada under the Insurance Companies Act; statements of assets, liabilities, income and expenditures of Canadian and foreign insurance companies and cooperative credit associations; and the annual list of authorized explosives made pursuant to the Explosives Regulations. One of the most interesting supplements is the list of unclaimed bank balances over $100, arranged by name of chartered bank and showing the name of the depositor and the amount left in seemingly long-forgotten accounts. If this money is not claimed it reverts to the government of Canada.

Each issue of the Canada Gazette Part I has its own non-cumulating index, a practice begun with volume 14 in 1880. The early indexes were very brief and covered very little of the actual content, while those of today are much more detailed. There are also quarterly indexes to Part I, but these are non-cumulating and slow to be published. It is advisable for libraries to retain these indexes, and it would be desirable for the Queen's Printer to publish a cumulation.

Canada Gazette Part II, 1947-
The antecedents of the Canada Gazette Part II can be traced back to the early days of World War II and a publication entitled Proclamations and Orders in Council relating to the War. It was succeeded in October, 1942 by Canadian War Orders and Regulations, a weekly publication of the Statutory Orders and Regulations Division of the Privy Council Office, which contained war related orders and regulations. In 1945 it was renamed Statutory Orders and Regulations. The purpose of these three publications was to recognize the growing importance of subordinate legislation and to accord it special treatment by virtue of a separate publication.13

Growth in the amount of delegated legislation -- orders in council, rules, regulations and proclamations -- was significant during the war years and has not decreased since that time. Between 1932 and 1938, the federal government approved 23,139 orders in council; between 1939 and 1945 the number soared to 60,655; in the years immediately following the end of the war, 1946 to 1952, there were 40,953.14 No specific statute pertaining to the publication of delegated legislation yet existed and would not be created until the passage of the Regulations Act, 1950. Those orders which required publication could be found in the Canada Gazette.

Thus the road was paved for the creation of a permanent series which would publish delegated legislation. The Canada Gazette Part II was authorized by P.C. 1946-4876, The Statutory Orders and Regulations Order, 1947, which was made on 26 November 1946 and ordered that after 1 January 1947 the Canada Gazette be published in two parts. Part I was to be called "General" and would contain "the matter which prior to the said date was published in the Canada Gazette excepting the matter to the published in Part II as hereinafter set out." Part II was entitled "Statutory Orders and Regulations" and was to contain "proclamations, orders, rules and regulations" as set out in section 4 of the order. Section 6 stated that "Part II of the Canada Gazette, entitled 'Statutory Orders and Regulations', shall be published regularly by the King's Printer, on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month."

This order was subsequently revoked and replaced by P.C. 1946-5355 of 30 December 1946. Section 6(a) directed the Clerk of the Privy Council to prepare a consolidation of "all such orders, minutes, rules or regulations" that were in force as of 31 December 1947. This consolidation was eventually published in 1950 under the title Statutory Orders and Regulations, Consolidation, 1949 and was followed by similar editions in 1955 and 1978, with the Canada Gazette Part II functioning as the updating tool.15

Part II of the Canada Gazette was published for the first time on Wednesday, 8 January 1947. It did not commence with volume one but instead continued the numbering sequence begun in 1867, so that the initial issue was volume 81, number 1. The text of each instrument was printed in full, together with its registration number and date. Two non-cumulating tables were printed at the back of each issue. The "Table of Contents" was arranged by instrument number and provided the title, name of administering body and page reference, while the "Index to Statutory Orders and Regulations" had a topical arrangement, also with page references.

In 1950 Parliament passed the Regulations Act.16 This new statute required the Clerk of the Privy Council to keep a record of regulations transmitted to him by regulation-making authorities, the Governor in Council and the Treasury Board. It also required that all regulations be published in the Canada Gazette, in English and in French, within 30 days of being made. Publication in the Canada Gazette was to be considered proof of a regulation's existence. The Act further provided that regulations be cited as "Statutory Orders and Regulations" or "S.O.R." followed by the number. SOR/50-572, which took effect 1 January 1951 pursuant to the new Act, continued the Canada Gazette in two parts and prescribed that Part II was to contain regulations as defined in section 2(a) of the Regulations Act, thus tightening the requirements set out in The Statutory Orders and Regulations Order, 1947.

At the same time, SOR/50-572 directed the Clerk of the Privy Council to publish every three months a consolidated index and table of all regulations made since the last consolidation, together with all amendments, revocations or other modifications. This index commenced 1 January 1950 and took up where the 1949 Statutory Orders and Regulations consolidation left off. Its main feature was a "Table of Statutory Orders and Regulations" which listed new regulations and amendments to existing ones, giving the name of the enabling Act, name of the regulation, volume and page reference to the 1949 consolidation (where applicable) and amendments with page reference to Part II.

In 1972 the Regulations Act was repealed and replaced by the Statutory Instruments Act.17 Section 10 continued the Canada Gazette as the official gazette of Canada. The status of the Canada Gazette had been in doubt since its parent statute, the Public Printing and Stationery Act, was repealed in 1969 by the Government Organization Act which made no mention at all of the Canada Gazette. In his appearance on 16 February 1971 before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which was examining the statutory instruments bill, the Hon. John Turner, Minister of Justice, stated that "the Canada Gazette is recognized as the official gazette of Canada but this recognition has no statutory basis ... we are not creating the Canada Gazette by statute. We are just saying ... 'The Queen's Printer shall continue to publish the Canada Gazette as the official gazette of Canada.'"18

The question of the Gazette's status was the subject of a lively debate in the House of Commons on 8 March 1971, shortly after the Minister's appearance before the Standing Committee. The opposition raised the issue of the Gazette, claiming that, since the repeal of the Public Printing and Stationery Act, it had no statutory authority. According to the honourable member, the repeal of this statute had "abolished" the Gazette; while the Government Organization Act, 1969 continued the office of Queen's Printer, it did not authorize the printing and publishing of an official gazette. "I suggest, and the minister himself confirmed this, that in the course of the preparation of the government reorganization bill of April, 1969, something was inadvertently done which removed the statutory authority which gave the Canada Gazette its status as the official gazette of Canada."19

An examination of Hansard reveals the niceties of the issue. The Minister of Justice told the House that "This clause [section 10] does not provide that the Queen's Printer shall continue to publish the Canada Gazette as the official gazette of Canada; it simply provides it shall be continued as the official gazette of Canada. At the present time, the Canada Gazette is recognized as being the official gazette, but this recognition needs a statutory basis, one which the clause in question will give to it. There has been no interruption in the authority for the publication of the gazette."20 Later in the same debate he said: "The Canada Gazette retains its status as a journal in which documents needing publicity for validation must be published ... Authority for the Canada Gazette lies in the fact that it is the Canada Gazette, not that it is designated as the official gazette. All the statutes to which the hon. member refers speak of the Canada Gazette. The legal power is not changed by designating it the official gazette."21 This debate was not resumed as the House moved on to consider other sections of the bill.

The Statutory Instruments Act was duly passed and remains the governing statute for the Canada Gazette.22 The Gazette's official status is continued by section 10, and section 12 permits the Governor in Council to "direct that any statutory instrument or other document, or any class thereof, be published in the Canada Gazette" and further directs that the Clerk of the Privy Council, under the authorization of the Governor in Council, "may direct or authorize the publication in the Canada Gazette of any statutory instrument or other document, the publication of which, in his opinion, is in the public interest." Section 14(1) continued the quarterly consolidation of regulations and 14(2) made provision for a quarterly index to Part I.

Because the number of regulations made by the federal government continues to increase, the importance of the Canada Gazette Part II has not diminished. Its contents now encompass "all 'regulations' as defined in the Statutory Instruments Act and certain other classes of statutory instruments and documents required to be published therein"23 including the proclamations of new Acts. Since January, 1984 it has been published every second Wednesday, and instead of separate English and French editions there is one edition with English and French in parallel columns.

The quarterly cumulative index is now called the "Consolidated Index of Statutory Instruments" and is perhaps the most valuable index produced by the federal government next to the "Table of Public Statutes". It cumulates from 1 January 1955 and contains only those instruments still in force. Table II, "Table of Regulations, Statutory Instruments (Other than Regulations) and Other Documents Arranged by Statute" lists all amendments in force under the short title of regulations which are in turn arranged alphabetically by name of the enabling Act. Instruments made by other than statutory authority can be found at the end of this table. Table I is an alphabetical list of regulations, giving the name of the enabling statute so that the researcher can then refer to Table II for amendments. Table III lists those regulations which are exempt from registration and publication in the Canada Gazette. Fortunately there are very few and the table takes up no more than one or two pages. Anyone doing retrospective research should consult back copies of the "Consolidated Index" for those instruments which were made after January 1, 1955 but are no longer in force.

Special issues are published as required. The most important to date is "Special Issue 1978", which was published in two volumes on 31 December 1978 in conjunction with the release of the Consolidated Regulations of Canada 1978, the first revision and consolidation of federal regulations since 1955.

Canada Gazette Part III, 1974-
The next major change to the Canada Gazette was the creation of Part III, which was published for the first time on 13 December 1974 in order to publish public Acts as quickly as possible after receiving Royal Assent, thus eliminating the long wait between publication of the bill copies and the sessional volumes of statutes. Prior to 1984 federal statutes were not published until the session had concluded. Annual volumes have been published since 1984. The authority for Part III was SOR/74-652 which amended the Statutory Instruments Regulations. Unlike the rest of the Canada Gazette, Part III has always been published irregularly, usually when there were enough new Acts to warrant another issue. It supersedes the bill copies as the source for new statutes until the official volume of Acts for the calendar year is published. Part III does not contain the text of private statutes which must be used in bill form until the publication of the annual statute volumes.

Publication in Part III does not necessarily signify that an Act is in force, since proclamation is frequently required in addition to Royal Assent. Therefore each issue also contains a non-cumulating "Table of Proclamations" covering Acts which have been proclaimed in force during the time period covered by that specific issue.

Until very recently Canada Gazette Part III included two other very useful tables which were published under separate cover from the new Acts and the "Table of Proclamations". The "Table of Public Statutes" is an alphabetical listing of Acts in force since 1907 together with section by section amendments to those Acts and notes about coming into force. Statutes not consolidated in the Revised Statutes of Canada 1927, 1952, 1970 and 1985 are listed as well. A "Table of Acts and the Ministers responsible for their administration" was published under the same cover as the "Table of Public Statutes", allowing for easy identification of administering departments.

The Canada Gazette Part III dated August 25, 1993 carried the announcement that both these tables would cease to be published with Part III, citing the high cost of printing as the reason. This decision has not resulted in the demise of the tables, which are of great value to the researcher. Instead, they are now published independent of Part III by the Department of Justice. The "Table of Public Statutes" is also published with the annual bound volume of the statutes. There has been talk of discontinuing Part III because the statutes are now published annually and "assented to" Acts were introduced in 1990. The original reason for creating Part III no longer exists. So far this has not happened and Part III continues to be published.


[1] May be cited as/On peut citer comme suit:

Martha Foote, "The Canada Gazette," Government Information in Canada/Information gouvernementale au Canada, Vol. 1, no. 4.2.


	Martha Foote
	Borden & Elliot
	Toronto, Canada
The author wishes to thank Michel LeClerc, Regulatory Analyst, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Elizabeth Deavy, formerly Official Publications Specialist, National Library of Canada, for generously sharing their expertise on this subject.

[3] P.M. Handover, A History of the London Gazette 1665-1965 (London: H.M.S.O., 1965), pp. 2-12.

[4] For more information on the Upper Canada Gazette consult Brian Tobin, The Upper Canada Gazette and its Printers, 1793-1849 (Toronto: Ontario Legislative Library, 1993).

[5] (U.K.), 1840, c. 35.

[6] Olga B. Bishop, Publications of the Government of the Province of Canada 1841-1867 (Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1963), p. 58.

[7] Stewart Derbishire (1794?-1863), an Englishman, pursued a variety of careers including soldier, lawyer and journalist before coming to Canada in 1838 to gather intelligence for Lord Durham, the governor general of British North America, concerning the 1837 rebellion in Lower Canada. His connection with government officials led to his appointment in 1841 as Queen's Printer, a post he held until he died.

George-Paschal Desbarats (1808-1864) was a French Canadian who, unlike Derbishire, had a solid grounding in the printing trade, having entered his family's printing business when he was eighteen. His commissions included the Journals of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada. He and Stewart Derbishire were named Queen's Printer in 1841. Following Derbishire's death, Desbarats shared his responsibilities with Malcolm Cameron until his own death in 1864.

[8] Section 41 of the Union Act, 1840 specified that the legislative records of the Province of Canada were to be kept in English only. Translations were permitted but were not to be housed with the records of the Legislature nor would they have the force of an original record. Prov. C. 1841, c. 11, passed in the following year by the Parliament of the Province of Canada, permitted the Governor to appoint "one proper and competent person, versed in legal knowledge and having received a classical French education, and possessing a sufficient knowledge of the English language" to translate the statutes of the Province, and any applicable Imperial statutes, into French. This is the authority for English and French Queen's Printers. However, the language provision in the Union Act, 1840 remained in force until its repeal by 1848, c. 56 (U.K.).

[9] Prov. C. 1849, c. 26.

[10] Malcolm Cameron (1808-1876) was born in Lower Canada of Scottish parentage. A businessman and politician, he held cabinet posts in pre-Confederation governments before succeeding Stewart Derbishire as Queen's Printer in 1863. He held this post until 1869 when Georges-Edouard Desbarats (1838-1893), the son of George-Pashal Desbarats, was appointed Canada's first official printer.

[11] S.C. 1869, c. 7.

[12] S.C. 1968-69, c. 28.

[13] Michel LeClerc, "History of the Canada Gazette Part II" (Ottawa, 1991) [unpublished]. The author gratefully acknowledges M. LeClerc's assistance with this section.

[14] LeClerc, "History of the Canada Gazette," p. 2.

[15] There were two previous consolidations of orders in council, in 1874 and 1889.

[16] S.C. 1950, c. 50. The Act was proclaimed in force on 1 January 1951.

[17] S.C. 1970-71-72, c. 38. The Act received Royal Assent on 19 May 1971 and came into force on 1 January 1972. It is now cited as R.S.C. 1985, c. S-22.

[18] Canada, House of Commons, Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, no. 7 (16 February 1971), p. 7:17.

[19] Canada, House of Commons, Debates (8 March 1971), p. 4046.

[20] Canada, House of Commons, Debates (8 March 1971), pp. 4046-7.

[21] Canada, House of Commons, Debates (8 March 1971), p. 4047.

[22] In April 1985, Bill C-84 An Act to provide for the review, registration, publication and parliamentary scrutiny of regulations and other documents and to make consequential amendments to other Acts was introduced in the House of Commons by the Minister of Justice. This bill would repeal the Statutory Instruments Act and replace it with a new Regulations Act. Should this bill become law, it would be the governing legislation for the new Canada Gazette.

[23] Canada Gazette Part II, cover statement.