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Historic court documents transferred to BC Archives

July 25, 2013 - 2:17 PM

VICTORIA - The Ministry of Justice has transferred historic court documents to the British Columbia Archives, completing its existing collection with records dating as far back as 1897.

Newly appointed B.C. Court of Appeal records officer Christine Gergich was exploring the Vancouver Law Courts basement when she came upon the historic records. Recognizing their significance, Gergich took the initiative to have them restored and archived.

The records include original Court of Appeal cause books and other documents from the court's inception in 1910 and earlier volumes from 1897 relating to its predecessor, the Supreme Court of B.C., which was known as the "Full Court".

The cause books and other early-bound volumes have been cleaned and housed in archival containers as part of a project undertaken collaboratively by the B.C. Court of Appeal, the Ministry of Justice and BC Archives. As part of the preliminary conservation treatment, bindings were repaired and leather was stabilized.

This transfer includes 60 boxes of bound volumes and case record cards that include:
* 24 cause books, 1897-1982
* 14 boxes of case record cards, 1981-1987
* 14 minute books (most indexed), 1897-1957
* Eight order books (most indexed), 1899-1918

Cause books contain the recordings of all court proceedings, including the names of the defendants and plaintiffs, when they appeared in court, what the issues were and what decisions were made. Minute books contain a summary of the court proceedings.

The records stored in the Vancouver Law Courts basement document many of B.C.'s first legal cases and include some well-known figures and early B.C. companies, including:
* The lawsuit between former Premier and Lieutenant-Governor James Dunsmuir and his mother, which was tabloid fodder and created a North American-stir at the turn of the last century.
* The Regina vs White and Bob case was the first case in which the Douglas Treaties were recognized as "treaties" in Canadian Law. The decision found that the early agreements with B.C.'s first governor and Hudson Bay Chief Factor James Douglas were in fact "treaties" and therefore protected Aboriginal hunting rights.

Thousands of similar historical court documents were transferred to BC Archives between 1996 and 2004, following the closure of the Court Records Centre. BC Archives has accepted the transfer of these records to complete that collection, and the records are available for research purposes only.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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