The Federal Civil Service in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
during the 1800's
"Town and Crown"
May 4, 2005:
Beginning in 1867, with Confederation, a large number of civil servants arrived
in Ottawa from each of the new provinces.
In the early days government was small. The largest departments reflected the
priorities of the day -- Agriculture, Post Office, Customs and Excise.
Archibald Lampman, poet, worked in the Post Office Department.
There was an early Department of Finance (1867) but it was only involved in accounting
functions. There were no economists until the 1920's. The federal Income Tax was instituted
in 1917 as only a temporary measure. They'll probably be abolishing it soon.
When I first started working in the Department of Finance (for 30+ years), we
were located in the Confederation Building. Prior to that time, the building housed
the Department of Agriculture.
The Post Office Building was located at Confederation Square, across from the East
Photo Source: James Ballantyne collection, Library and Archives Canada
View across Rideau Canal locks to Sappers Bridge and Ottawa Post Office, 1903
Reference Number: PA-133655 (copy negative number)
The railway tracks shown in the photo are located between the locks and the Chateau
Laurier Hotel. I believe that it was built by J.R. Booth. It crossed the Ottawa River
and ran as far north as Maniwaki, Quebec.
May 8, 2005:
Geological Survey of Canada
Charles Smith would like to contact Francis McDermott who is a descendant of
Michael McDermott who was an early surveyor in the Bytown area.
The reason for my interest is that I have transcribed the 1845 Ottawa River Journal of Sir
William E. Logan, founder of the Geological Survey of Canada. Logan spent several days in
Bytown, and he refers to Michael McDermott, the provincial land surveyor in Bytown.
Perhaps Francis McDermott has an interest in these (limited!) comments.
No, Logan did not come to Ottawa at the time of Confederation. He lived in Montreal. In
1845, the Geological Survey (GSC) was based there. The capital of Canada was then in
Kingston. The Geological Survey moved to Ottawa in 1881, and it was located at the
corner of Sussex Drive and George Street. A Historic Sites and Monument plaque now
marks the site. The GSC moved to the Victoria Museum building in 1910. The GSC moved
to Booth Street in 1959, where it is now located. To jog your memory, Mount Logan in
the Yukon was later named after him.
Perhaps you remember the recent fuss about changing the name of Mount Logan to Mount Pierre
Thank you again.
July 20, 2005:
E-mail email@example.com (new e-mail address ... Al)
April 23, 2006:
Alexander Jeffrey Cambie and his wife Elizabeth Poston came from Quebec City. He
worked in the Department of Agriculture and was a member of the Civil Service Masonic Lodge (see link below, dated July 1, 2009).
January 29, 2008:
Denise Dufour is researching her grandfather, Georges Blanchard, who worked at
L’Imprimerie d’Ottawa, c. 1930. Printing services for the federal government have
been a combination of contracting out and in-house printing since Confederation.
I remember hearing a lot about "PP and S" around the kitchen table in the 1950's.
"PP and S" stood for "Public Printing and Stationery" as the printing agency was then
July 1, 2009:
I am the secretary of Civil Service Masonic Lodge in Ottawa and I have been researching our
The first meeting of Civil Service Lodge in Ottawa was held on November 14, 1865. Originally,
all members of our lodge were required to be civil servants, thus the origin of our name.
A history of our Lodge can be found at http://www.civilservicelodge.ca under Lodge History/Renowned Members.
Here is an excerpt of names of Worshipful Masters of the Civil Service Lodge, between 1861 and 1900,
as posted on our web site:
Civil Service Lodge No. 148 AF&AM
Names for search engine: Rowan, Hayden, Spink, Munro, Remon, Cambie, McLean, Walsh, Blyth, Coutlee,
Rogers, Cassels, Maingy, Campbell, Boardman, Blair, Roper, Macdonnell, Saunders, Harris,
Learoyd, Scott, Garrett.
January 15, 2010:
The Federal Government property known as the Experimental Farm, forms a major part of the Greenbelt which
surrounds the City of Ottawa.
Photo Source: Our Times, A Pictorial Memoir of Ottawa, page 105
August 10, 2010:
Photo Source: National Capital Region Heritage, page 138
The Langevin Block, Wellington Street and Elgin Street
designed by Thomas Fuller
For many decades, this building housed the Department of External Affairs
October 12, 2012:
If you are researching ancestors who were in the Ottawa area in the early part of the twentieth century, you
may find their names, date of birth, salary, Department and Branch in the Civil Service List of Canada.
These hard-cover volumes are available at the Library of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society:
Here are the entries from their catalogue today:
View 971 CSL 1917 Civil Service List 1917
View 971 CSL 1918 Civil Service List 1918 Liste Du Service Civil
View 971 CSL 1912 The Civil Service List of Canada, 1912
View 971 CSL 1913 The Civil Service List of Canada, 1913
View 971 CSL 1915 The Civil Service List of Canada, 1915
Search their catalogue for much more local history material.
September 19, 2013: (added a new resource)
"A Social History of the Federal Civil Service in 1871", an article in Construire une capitale - OTTAWA - Making a Capital, edited by
Jeff Keshen and Nicole St-Onge, University of Ottawa Press, 2001, (article written by Michael J. Piva), pages 107-124.
December 7, 2013:
Added three new books. If I remember correctly, two of them are old chestnuts from the old Public Administration Department of the 1960's.
Still in my library after all these years and still interesting, hardcover books.
Public Administration in Canada: Selected Readings, edited by A.M. Willms and W.D. Kernaghan, Methuen Publications,
Toronto, 1968, 473 pages
The Government of Canada, R. MacGregor Dawson, University of Toronto Press, 1947 reprinted in 1968, no ISBN, 612 pages
The Ottawa Men: The Civil Service Mandarins, 1935-1957, Jack L. Granatstein, Oxford University Press, Totonto, 1982, 333 pages
E-mail Al Lewis
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa area