Title and statement of responsibility area
Royal Engineers fonds
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Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1759-1913, predominant 1761-1884 (Creation)
- Great Britain. Army. Royal Engineers
Physical description area
2.9 m of textual records and other material
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Established in 1716 by royal warrant of King George I, the Corps of Engineers was the engineering branch of the British Army. In 1787 the corps was granted the title Royal Engineers. The first officers of the corps arrived in Nova Scotia in the 1740s and were stationed at the army's office headquarters in Halifax under the direction of the commanding Royal Engineer. Engineering offices were also established at the detachments in Cape Breton, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Bermuda. The primary responsibility of the Royal Engineers was the construction and maintenance of military buildings including fortifications, barracks, storehouses, hospitals, and prisons. Other engineering duties included surveying, demolition work, and occasionally civil works, such as the construction of roads, canals, and bridges. Engineer officers later became supervisors of the actual construction work which was contracted out to local builders beginning in the early decades of the 1800s. Until reorganization of the army in the 1850s, the Royal Engineers were under the supervision of the inspector general of fortifications in Britain who, in turn, reported to the Board of Ordnance. In 1855, the Board of Ordnance was amalgamated with the War Office. The functions of the Royal Engineers were eventually transferred to the Canadian Militia who formed a formed a permanent corps of engineers under the name Canadian Engineer Corps on 1 July 1903. In 1904 it was renamed the Royal Canadian Engineers.
Records were originally stored at the commanding Royal Engineer's office, Lumber Yard, where they were earmarked for destruction. In 1898 they were examined by the deputy keeper of public records, Harry Piers, and arranged by him ca. 1900. The records were transferred to the custody of the deputy keeper (provincial archivist) in December 1900. The museum acquired the photographs from the Canadian Royal Engineers on 22 November 1930. The photographs were later transferred to the archives, probably in the 1940s. Volume of deeds and warrants (MG 12, no. 58) was deposited by A.L. Phillips, of Halifax, N.S., in 1946.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records created by the Royal Engineers stationed at Halifax, documenting military construction operations. Includes maps and architectural plans including a few from the 1760s-1790s, as well as copied items dating from 1740s-50s, primarily illustrating military property and fortifications at Halifax and New Brunswick, and also permanent and temporary structures such as storehouses, bridges, martello towers, and the Melville Island prison. Also includes letterbooks, 1761-1858, which contain incoming and outgoing letters to and from engineer officers in Halifax and outposts as well as the inspector general of fortifications in Britain, some of which also include general orders, lists of building materials, specifications, and estimates; four letter books with accompanying reports, estimates, and sketches pertaining to the Halifax Citadel, 1825-1847; reports of defences, 1759, 1810-1817, 1834; and deeds and warrants relating to military lands, 1778-1858. Fonds also contains glass plate negatives taken by engineer officers, 1870-1884, depicting various military and naval buildings and property in and around Halifax, at sites including the dockyard, Citadel, Point Pleasant, Fort Massey cemetery, Fort Ogilvie, Fort Charlotte at Georges Island, Fort Clarence, Fort Sackville, York Redoubt, and Ives Point at McNabs Island. Also includes a few photographs of officers with horse-drawn sleighs and demolition of the ruins of the Halifax Poor Asylum fire.
Immediate source of acquisition
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Textual records: MG 12 no. 1-59 and Graphic material: 1992-318 and Architectural and cartographic material: locs. R.E.O. A.1-A49 - V-Y
Availability of other formats
Digital copies of many maps and plans are available onsite via the internal Beamish Digital Delivery Service.
Copy prints and copy negs available for a portion of the images.
Restrictions on access
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Item descriptions and file list available. Item level inventory of photographs containing photocopies of images also available. Website exhibit available.
See also V6 Historical Maps of Halifax 1640s-1970s and V7 Historical Maps of Nova Scotia 1670s-1990s on internal Beamish Digital Delivery Service.
Includes ca. 400 photographs and ca. 300 architectural and cartographic items.
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