|HISTORY/BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: ||Dates of Founding and/or Dissolution: |
The Department of Lands and Mines was created October1, 1930 when Alberta's natural resources were transferred from the Dominion of Canada to the Province of Alberta. The Department was officially established through legislation March 23, 1931 when An Act to Create a Department of Lands and Mines, 1931 (S.A. 1931, chapter 42) received assent. An Act to Repeal The Department of Lands and Mines Act was assented to March 31, 1948, and came into force April 1, 1949.
The Department of Lands and Mines was responsible for the supervision and management of Alberta's natural resources beginning October 1, 1930, when administration and control of the natural resources was formally transferred from the Federal Government to the Provincial Government. The Department was to administer acts relating to lands, mines, minerals, and other natural resources as assigned. Provincial legislation was soon enacted for the administration of lands, minerals, forests, and fisheries, and to control the drilling of oil and gas wells.
The main resources administered by the Department of Lands and Mines included provincial lands, forests, minerals (solid, liquid and gaseous), and at times game and fisheries. The divisions within the Department were divided along these lines. Key Divisions of the Department during its first years included the Provincial Lands Administration, the Technical Division, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Division, the Forestry Division and the Fisheries Division. The Forestry Division was responsible for forestry activities, and included the Alberta Forest Service, a transfer of the Dominion Forest Service, which was responsible for the protection of forests. An Accounting Division was soon added to the Department. In July 1936, the Game Branch was transferred to the Department of Lands and Mines from the Department of Agriculture. However, in May of the following year, the Game and Fisheries Divisions were transferred to the Department of Agriculture. In 1937, the department was reorganized, and two new divisions were created: the School Lands Division was responsible for the administration of all lands of the School Endowment, and the Mining Lands Division was responsible for the disposition of mineral rights in provincial and school lands. On May 1, 1938 the Divisions of School Lands and Provincial Lands were amalgamated. In 1941, administration of the Fisheries and Game Branches was transferred back to the Department of Lands and Mines from Agriculture. A new Registration Division created as a separate division in May 1943.
The Department of Lands and Mines continued to grow, and in 1948, the decision was made to split the department. Acts were passed creating two new departments from the Department of Lands and Mines: the Department of Lands and Forests and the Department of Mines and Minerals. These two departments became effective April 1, 1949.
To undertake conservation of oil and gas in the Turner Valley, the Alberta Government established the Turner Valley Gas Conservation Board though Turner Valley Gas Conservation Act (S.A. 1932, chapter 6) in 1932. The Board's main objective was to stop the waste of natural gas. Active for approximately one year, the testing of wells begun by the Board was continued by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Division. Recommendations made by the Board were included in the Department of Lands and Mines 1933 annual report. Conservation work was attempted again through the Oil and Gas Resources Conservation Act (S.A. 1938, second session, chapter 1) and the establishment of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Conservation Board in 1938. This Board worked at arms length from the government, becoming the Oil and Gas Conservation Board in 1957, then the Energy Resources Conservation Board in 1971, and most recently the Energy and Utilities Board in 1995.
The Special Areas Board was established through Special Areas Act, 1938, to administer lands designated as Special Areas. As agent for the Minister, the Board was to provide assistance to settlers in areas affected by insufficient rainfall, inferior soil, and other causes, leaving the lands in these areas with a productivity level unable to provide a sufficient livelihood for settlers. The Board's tasks included directing public lands for the benefit of residents in the areas, leasing public lands at fair and reasonable rents, and setting aside lands for community purposes. On May 12, 1948 the Special Areas Board was transferred to the Department of Municipal Affairs (OC 550/48).
The Eastern Rockies Forest Conservation Board was established June 19, 1947 through an agreement between Alberta and the Dominion Government, to administer the Crowsnest, Bow River and Clearwater Forests, an area known as the Eastern Slopes. This Board was transferred to the Department of Lands and Forests, with the agreement terminating in 1973.
Predecessor and Successor Bodies:
Prior to the transfer of the control and administration of natural resources to Alberta, administration work regarding the natural resources had been undertaken by the Federal Department of the Interior. The Mines Branch, previously under control of the Executive Council, was transferred to the Department of Lands and Mines when it was created. This branch was originally established as Coal Mines Branch and was renamed the Mines Branch in 1914. The branch reported to the Department of Public Works until April 1920, when an Order-in-Council transferred control to the Provincial Secretary; in 1924 the President of the Executive Council assumed responsibility. Following the Department of Lands and Mines, administration of the natural resources was split between the Department of Lands and Forests and the Department of Mines and Minerals.
The Minister of Lands and Mines was a member of the Executive Council. Annual Reports were submitted to the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Alberta.
The Department was divided into divisions, and these divisions into branches. The organization remained relatively stable through the existence of the department.
Names of Chief Officers:
Minister of Lands and Mines:
Richard G. Reid 1930-1934
Hugh W. Allen 1934-1935
Charles C. Ross 1935-1937
Nathan E. Tanner 1937-1949