M930.50.1.788 | Seal of Marine and Fisheries

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Seal of Marine and Fisheries
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
2.6 x 4 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  emblem - medal - seal (491) , Print (10661) , Sign and symbol (2669)
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Keys to History

Government Services
The lighthouses in Upper Canada were administered by commissioners with direct ties to the governor's office and to the inspector of lighthouses, who himself reported to the City of Toronto administration. After the Act of Union in 1840, the lighthouses of Upper Canada were placed under the authority of the Board of Works of the Province of Canada.

Together, the Trinity Houses and Board of Works officials ensured that the St. Lawrence was a safe and well marked waterway, as shown by the number of lighthouses in service by 1867:

- From the Strait of Belle Isle to Quebec City: 24 lighthouses
- From Quebec City to Montreal: 27 lighthouses
- Upriver from Montreal: 80 lighthouses

The various groups amalgamated after Confederation to create the Department of Marine and Fisheries, which, in the 1870s, took on the management of navigation aids in Canada.

  • What

    The Department of Marine and Fisheries was responsible for a wide range of activities related to shipping and navigation in Canada as well as to the coastal and inland fisheries.

  • Where

    Because it was a federal agency, Marine and Fisheries was managed from an office in Ottawa. The office was located in the West Block, one of two office buildings connected to Parliament.

  • When

    The Department of Marine and Fisheries was created at Confederation in 1867 and was put in charge of the lighthouses on the St. Lawrence River in 1870. Amalgamated with other federal departments, namely, the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of National Defence, it was renamed the Department of Transport on November 2, 1936.

  • Who

    At the end of the 19th century, the rules for hiring staff in this and all other government departments were quite different from what they are today. In 1876, except for ship inspectors, who had to pass tests to qualify, marine agents, lighthouse keepers, harbour police, ship's captains, and harbour officials were often awarded their jobs because of their political ties.