Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Local Government of Canada, 1915 — New Brunswick

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

New Brunswick

The province of New Brunswick in all essential features of provincial administration is similar to its neighbour, Nova Scotia, but some differences may be noted. The province entered Confederation with a Legislative Council of 40 members holding their seats for life, a Legislative Assembly of 40 members and an Executive Council of nine members. Under its powers of changing the provincial constitution the Legislative Council was abolished by an act passed on April 16, 1891. For many years an agitation for its abolition had continued, and the governments of the period refrained from filling vacancies until the number of members was so reduced that the passage of an abolition act became comparatively an easy matter. The retiring members of the Council retained their title and precedence for life. The Assembly at present is composed of 47 members, and the Executive Council is composed of (1) the Premier who is also Minister of Lands and Mines, (2) the Minister of Public Works, (3) the Provincial Secretary-Treasurer, (4) the Attorney-General and (5) the Minister of Agriculture, all of whom receive salaries. Each of these ministers has a departmental staff under his direction.

New BrunswickThe ordinary revenue in 1915 amounted to $1,634,079 and the ordinary expenditure to $1,626,634.

In New Brunswick the subject of public instruction is under the management of a Board of Education consisting of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, the members of the Executive Council, the Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick and the Chief Superintendent of Education.

Municipal Institutions.—On the subject of municipal institutions, under which the people have more complete control over their local affairs, the province of New Brunswick has passed through stages of development similar to those of Nova Scotia. An interesting passage will be found in Hannay's History of New Brunswick, where, writing on this subject, he observes:

“Sir William Colebrooke and Sir Edmund Head had both regretted the failure of attempts to establish municipal institutions throughout the province, but they perhaps did not discern that this failure was due to the influence of the magistrates in sessions, who did not like to be deprived of their power of controlling the affairs of the counties. These magistrates naturally resisted every improvement, which they denounced as innovations, and they were supported generally by the Legislative Council.

The system of county government was as bad as possible, because the magistrates were not responsible to any person. The condition of the county accounts was never made public, and it was not until a comparatively late period in the history of the province that the Grand Jury obtained legislative authority to inspect the county accounts.

Municipal institutions came in the course of years, but not till long after Sir Edmund Head had taken his departure from the province. Since then the influence of the people upon the municipal government has been strengthened by the incorporation of most of the towns in the province; so that the people have an opportunity not only of knowing how their money is being spent but of directing the expenditure.”

In New Brunswick the first municipal act was passed in 1851. This act, which was subsequently amended, rendered incorporation optional. But these acts were not in many cases taken advantage of. The counties were; however, divided into parishes, districts having a certain amount of local autonomy and some limited powers of administration, which have been recognized in subsequent municipal legislation. They are provided with local courts presided over by commissioners who are ex-officio justices of the peace, and in some cases they are provided with stipendiary or police magistrates. These commissioners have civil jurisdiction in debts not exceeding eighty dollars and in cases of tort when the damages claimed do not exceed thirty-two dollars.

At the time of confederation the municipal system had been very slightly developed. But in 1877 an act providing for compulsory municipal incorporation was put in force, and, with its amendments, is substantially in force at the present time. It provides that county councils be constituted as bodies corporate, having two councillors elected yearly from each parish in the county. The councils elect from among their members a presiding officer who is styled the warden and who holds office until the next election of councillors. Councils may themselves, however, provide by by-law for their election biennially, a provision which does not apply to the municipality of the city and county of St. John. The city of St. John, which in 1785 was known as “Parr Town”, received a charter in that year through Lieutenant-Governor Carleton, a brother of the famous soldier, Sir Guy Carleton (afterwards Lord Dorchester). The qualifications of voters for the councils are very liberal. Every male or female person, being a widow or unmarried, of the age of 21 years or over, being a British subject, a ratepayer of the parish having an income or personal property or both combined to the amount of one hundred dollars, is entitled to vote. A resident of the parish having real property of any value, or, if not a resident, having real property to the value of one hundred dollars, is also entitled to vote. The dates and time of meeting of the councils are fixed by statute and differ in different municipalities. In addition to a warden each elects a secretary, a treasurer (the two offices may be combined in one person) and an auditor, who may not be a councillor nor hold any office under the council. The councils also appoint overseers of the poor, constables, commissioners of highways, collectors of rates and other, parish and county officials as may be necessary. Councillors under some circumstances also act as revisers of voters' fists. The warden is required to publish each year a full and detailed financial statement of the affairs of the municipality which shall be signed by the auditor and himself.

The financial condition of the county municipalities of the province is excellent. From the latest available returns it is found that ten counties out of fifteen (not including the city and county of St. John, the richest in the province) have an assessable valuation of real and personal property of over thirty million dollars, with insignificant liabilities. The other municipalities would probably represent as favourable a condition if returns were available. The city of St. John, the commercial capital of the province, with a population of about 58,000, was the first Canadian city to adopt government by commission. Its valuation for assessment purposes in 1915 was $36,187,000 and its liabilities were less than $5,000,000. The city of Fredericton, the capital of the province, with a population of 8,000, has a valuation of real and personal property for assessment of $5,000,000 with an outstanding indebtedness of $486,000.